By: Sandru Narayanan
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has a lot riding, read: flying, on Spider-Man Far from Home. For one, it’s the last film of the third phase, completing The Infinity Saga. Then there’s the colossal fact that it follows the pop cultural phenomenon that is Avengers: Endgame. In the aftermath of the demise of several superheroes, the Spider-Man franchise not only had to hold on to its bubble-gum innocence but also push the character’s boundaries. The film, a sequel to 2017’s Homecoming, also has to deal with last year’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse that successfully brought the nostalgia of comic books to the big screen with path-breaking animation and an even better manipulation of the superhero’s succession theories. Could 2019’s Marvel Spidey live up to these challenges? The resounding answer is yes.
Rather than give audiences an Avengers-style mission, Spider-Man: Far from Home perfectly utilises its teenage playground to deliver several emotional punches. There are plenty of knee-slapping zingers and lots of unexpected twists. It’s a classic Marvel enterprise, and yet director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers make Far from Home stand out in the MCU. In the aftermath of Iron Man’s death, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is back at school and pining for fellow classmate MJ (Zendaya) while struggling to cope with being a superhero. In spite of being recently gone, Stark continues to reach beyond the unknown to mentor Parker, leaving him a powerful augmented intelligence tech named E.D.I.T.H.
As a primer, the ‘blip’, where half the world vanished is touched on, to keep everyone in the loop. Parker needs a vacation, he’s just the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man, he insists. He deliberately decides not to carry his suit to a class Euro trip albeit aunt May (Marisa Tomei) has other ideas. But trouble has a way of finding him, in this case it’s Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) with all his hard charisma and caustic one-liners. Giant monsters called Elementals, from other dimensions are wreaking havoc and Spider-Man has to step up. All help is welcome when Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) a benevolent superhero from another dimension shows up to the fight.
Battle sequences, a watermark of the MCU takes a backseat in Far from Home. Instead, the film is a growing-into-his-own field for Spider-Man. Sure he messes up, which teen wouldn’t. But it’s up to Parker to let his ‘Spidey Tingle’ lead the way. When the film’s twist surfaces, it won’t entirely be unpredicted. But Far from Home has other ideas to lasso in viewers, namely Holland’s vulnerability and sincerity as Parker. Of course, kudos to Gyllenhaal who, as always in top form, makes character transitions appear seamless. But the real winner of the film – like it has been with every single Marvel outing – are the spectacular special effects that blur the lines between fantasy and reality. In this case, the audience, like Spider-Man is on tenterhooks waiting for the real to be revealed.
Far from Home could never and wasn’t really intended to outperform or trump Avengers: Endgame. But it’s a definitely earned a place in the MCU while being a fantastic sequel for Homecoming.
Verdict: 4.5/5 (Grandly entertaining)