“I can’t do this all on my own – I’m no Superman” – well, he’s Spider-Man, not the son of Krypton but the lyrics to Laszlo Bane’s Scrubs title song is quite apt in describing where we find out friendly neighbourhood “you know what” after the year(s) since he became Queens’ own superhero. He’s seen things many 16 year-olds wouldn’t believe: attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Titan, green-beams glitter in the dark near New York City and a genocidal maniac after some glowing stones. And you thought he was far from home before. Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
He’s certainly miles away in more ways than one, as Peter Parker (Tom Holland), he finds himself at something of a crossroads in Spider-Man: Far From Home: now firmly active as an Avenger but emotionally and physically scarred from the effects of the Snap in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, he wants/needs a break. A break from superhero shenanigans, public appearances, the suit and a chance to tell his girl he loves her with typically awkward, Marty McFly eloquence. Alas, no rest for the wicked and soon he’s back to saving the world – the literal world this time, as his summer vacation is hijacked by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), the latter seeking answers and retribution after his Earth was decimated by elemental beings called, erm, The Elementals due to a post-Snap multiverse event. Still friendly, neighbourhood ever expanding.
After the John Hughes melodies of Homecoming were such a success, writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers and director Jon Watts have continued the motif but aimed a little more angsty with echoes of Some Kind of Wonderful and Sixteen Candles fluttering in the background whilst still maintaining the Ferris Bueller frivolity with some superb gags. Smartly this, like Sam Raimi’s own sequel Spider-Man 2, shifts its focus to Peter rather than Spidey a little more here: we feel his pain, his loss – both of innocence and the literal – and the weight of the world in more ways that one on his shoulders.
That said, we would be remiss not to say that it’s not perfect, in fact, it does feel a little slapdash and messy in places. This, potentially, could be due to some post-Endgame changes as it doesn’t quite flow as smoothly during the second act than it perhaps should, feeling just a tad unbalanced in its shifts from big to small, but nonetheless, when it works, it soars.
And, of course, his fledgling first love that is bubbling under the surface. All told this is a much more personal, deep-digging tale but feels both a continuation of Infinity War and Endgame and its own touching tale, with Holland and Zendaya excelling throughout, bring the Peter/MJ love story to life with a real sense of tenderness and warmth.
Don’t think for one minute that means the IMAX-fuelled extravagance is forgotten as Far From Home showcases some of the most astonishing visuals of the MCU thus far, mixing the fantastical with the grounded, the scientific with the horrific. We won’t go into further detail here, suffice it to say it delivers, and delivers big, aided by a superb performance from Gyllenhaal as Beck/Mysterio who is quite rightly having an absolute ball. Or should that be bowl?
While this might not hit the heights of Marvel at its absolute best – and they are lofty heights indeed – and at times can feel a little too chaotic for its own good, Spider-Man: Far From Home still stands as one of the studio’s best sequels, mixing everything you loved about its predecessor with a new bag of tricks that is truly unexpected.