Spider-Man: Far From Home – a web of grief
Coming into Spider-man: Far From Home fresh from the heavy weight of Endgame will feel like a punch in the face. Tonally, both movies are exceptionally different. Within the first minute, Spider-man: Far From Home establishes itself as an entirely different movie. It’s only fitting, considering this Marvel movie takes place in, essentially, a different world.
Far From Home is a movie in a state of repair. People all over are trying to cope with the changes to their lives from The Blip, the shorthand for the five-year span where half of the population was snapped out of existence with the infinity gauntlet by Thanos, the Mad Titan. One background character is the first to acknowledge the strangeness of this new world, commenting on his younger brother now being older than him.
It’s a tumultuous time. Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow are gone. The Avengers are scattered with no apparent new leader to inherit the mantle. Everything is in a complete state of disarray. Despite all of this havoc, director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers balance the brilliant humor from Homecoming with the heartbreaking conclusion to Endgame.
After the events of the previous Marvel movie, Far From Home starts out slow with a grief-stricken Peter Parker focusing his interest beyond heroism. The teen wants nothing more than to take a vacation.
Fresh from the loss of Tony Stark, the man who saw greatness in him and sought to nurture the burgeoning hero, Peter is desperate to escape his mourning with a class trip to Europe and a six-step plan to tell M.J. how he feels about her. Silly teen shenanigans are exactly what he needs to begin to deal with the war-born trauma no child should be forced to reckon with.
Unfortunately, Nick Fury doesn’t seem to agree. Almost instantly into the movie, Peter is getting called relentlessly by Fury, who has a mission for him and refuses to be “ghosted.” Fury even goes so far as to take over Peter’s class trip, rerouting them to different destinations to get Spider-Man closer to the elemental evils which are trying to destroy the world.
Peter isn’t alone in this fight. At his side is the charismatic Quentin Beck, a mysterious soldier from a destroyed alternate universe hailed by the people of Europe as Mysterio. Jake Gyllenhaal’s gentle smile and warm eyes instantly make Peter, and the audience, feel at ease. Beck steps into the enormous shadow Tony Stark left in the wake of his death, comforting not only the world but Peter himself as he grapples with his responsibility as a hero, his personal life and his most recent loss.
Breaking back into the universe after the epic climax of Endgame must have felt daunting, and you can feel that hesitation throughout Far From Home. The Marvel cinematic universe doesn’t seem to know what to do without Robert Downey Jr., just as the characters don’t know what to do without Iron Man.
Peter Parker is continually shackled to Iron Man’s image. Even his own villains can’t be his; both the enemy from Homecoming and Far From Home’s comic origins are altered to be driven to evil by Stark. Peter’s entire arc is reduced to a boy playing dress-up in his dad’s work clothes. Every character looks at Peter, a child, and demands he step up when he admits he’s not ready. It’s hard for the MCU to continually lift him up as a hero of his own volition while writing him as an extension of Iron Man.
There are multiple lines where Peter looks at an authority figure and begs just to be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. It’s such a contrast from previous films where Peter was always rushing into danger and demanding more responsibility. He wanted to be an Avenger more than anything, but now that he’s experienced firsthand the true price of that heroism, the loss, the selflessness and the ache of those who are left behind, he finds he doesn’t want it.
By far, the best part of the movie involves Peter constructing his own Spider-Man suit, forgoing the Iron Spider outfit Tony left him. Peter uses his well of experience and scientific knowledge to build a suit for himself, with no Karen AI or kill-mode at the ready. This felt like a reclamation. It was Peter thanking Tony for all that he’s given him, but choosing to move forward as his own kind of hero.
Holland expertly carries a movie that almost asks too much of him. He guides the viewer on the journey of a boy who is forced to become a man, as painful as that may be.
It is the honor to Tony’s memory he deserves and helps the audience to recover from their own grief. With this final goodbye, the MCU can look to the future.
Peter’s growth throughout Far From Home is the perfect conclusion to Phase Three of the MCU. The mid-credit and end-credit trailers tease a dark glimpse into Phase Four with the web-slinger in a sticky situation.
Marvel has been tight-lipped about Phase Four, but if Far From Home is any indication, it is something all fans should look forward to.