A fun ride that sets up phase 4.
We have now officially reached the end of Phase 3 and the Infinity Saga. Spider-Man: Far From Home completes the 11-year saga set forth by Kevin Feige. If you have not seen Avengers: Endgame, I would not recommend proceeding with reading this article. Also, of course, if you don’t want to learn of any SPOILERS for Far From Home, I would suggest turning back now.
You've been warned.
At the conclusion of Endgame, fans said goodbye to Tony Stark. Even though the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s main character is dead, that doesn’t quite mean he is gone. The ghost of Tony Stark lays the foundation for the entire Far From Home plot. From the moment the movie cruises past the soft open and dives into the main plot, the absence of Tony is pushed to the front of the narrative. Murals of him are painted on walls across the world and young Pete Parker is still dealing with the loss of his mentor.
We are quickly introduced to Mysterio, a villain who claims he is from another universe. I was excited to hear Mysterio reference Earth 616, which is the comic book universe in which the main story arcs take place. Almost every Marvel comic book movie that has been released since X-Men draws influence from the 616 universe. For a moment, Marvel and Mysterio lead you to believe that this multi-verse theory has a big impact on the story. In the film, Mysterio claims the main villains, the Elementals, destroyed the Earth in his universe, and now he has come to the 616 universe to save the day. As many fans assumed, this entire story is a lie.
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Mysterio is known for creating illusions and tricking Spider-Man and the heroes, and that is exactly what he does here. Mysterio, real name Quentin Beck, is just a disgruntled Stark employee that was enraged when the deceased genius decided to name Peter Parker as his heir to a very powerful piece of technology. Mysterio uses drones to create the illusion of the Elementals to paint himself as a hero, and to manipulate Spider-Man into giving him access to the technology. While the plot twist was welcome, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. It is unfortunate that fans lose the multi-verse to the farce, but I will applaud Marvel for still being able to pull a fast one 11 years into the movie game.
Our hero, Peter Parker, finds himself back in a similar predicament as the first film. He’s a child playing hero while learning to be an actual hero. He wishes to be a normal boy on vacation but cannot escape the responsibilities of being an Avenger. Peter’s entire character arc is pretty much a drawn-out “With great power comes great responsibility” moment. I felt a bit of superhero fatigue as typical superhero tropes unfolded. That is, until the first big battle with Mysterio. The use of CGI to create a mind-warping illusion in the first battle was magnificent. Peter is tossed around in a false world of nightmares and horrors, which even features an Iron Man zombie and an iconic shot of Spider-Man trapped inside Mysterio’s helmet. Overall, Gyllenhaal was not impressive until the real villain comes out. When he ditches the fake hero act and dives into his bad guy vibes, the movies gets much better.
Nick Fury and Maria Hill don’t have much to do here besides boss Peter around. They seem clueless and useless for most of the film, but it is revealed during the after credit scene why this is (which I will get into later). Other supporting characters such as MJ, Ned, Aunt May, Happy Hogan, and Flash Thompson serve strict comedic relief roles. There is little depth to any character besides Peter and Mysterio, which makes it hard to really care about anyone. When Ned’s life is in danger I barely care. In fact, I almost wanted Mysterio to kill a supporting character, so that I could feel something for the diverse cast.
While Far From Home is better than Homecoming, it’s mainly due to that action sequences and the initial jerk of the plot twist. This is by no means a bad movie, but it isn’t magnificent either. Tom Holland is still a perfect Spider-Man, which is the franchise's strongest point by far. He’s lovable, dorky, immature, and flawed. Strong performances from him and Jake Gyllenhaal help keep this movie from being mediocre.
There are two scenes after the film ends, a post-credit scene and a mid-credit scene. The mid-credit scene is a great nod to Mysterio’s appearance in the comics. In the source material, the clever villain frames Spider-Man for horrific crimes, and he does the same in Far From Home. Spider-Man is blamed for the Elemental attacks, with Mysterio declaring that Spidey created the entire event with drones to solidify himself as the best hero. He then drops a bombshell and reveals the true identity of Spider-Man. Peter was the only hero in the MCU with a secret identity anyway, so its good they finally tore that band-aid off. I'm also sure that Nicky Fury, Happy Hogan, Maria Hill, MJ, Ned, and the Avengers will be able to clear Peter’s name of all wrongdoing in time. But it will be interesting how they maneuver into Phase 4 with Peter being viewed as a public enemy and his identity being revealed.
Finally, during the post-credit scene, it is revealed that the Nicky Fury and Maria Hill on Earth are Skrulls in disguise. We see that the real Fury is actually in space on a station being run by the Skrulls. This is a big nod in two directions. First, it shows that Marvel is looking to move their universe to the stars, with Fury set to keep an eye on the galaxy instead of just the Earth now. Second, it sets up a potential Secret Invasion storyline. A one-liner from Fury/Skrull during the film also suggests that the Kree and Skrull war is far from over. This means we should expect Captain Marvel, The Eternals, and The Guardians of the Galaxy to steer the overall plot into the next chapter. Cheers, to phase 4!