I can now officially say I’ve seen every Marvel Studios film ever made. As I’m writing this, I just finished watching Spider-Man: Far From Home.
First off, between the memorial in the film’s beginning and the first end credits, two of my favorite pop hits were featured: I Will Always Love You performed by the late Whitney Houston (video) (and I was surprised it was written by Dolly Parton) and Vacation performed by the Go Gos.
I confess, I’ve known about the story including the mid and end credits scenes for sometime, but knowing is not the same as experiencing. It’s after the “blip,” the return of all of the people, half of Earth’s population, Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped out of existence in the movie Avengers: Infinity War (2018). All of the “blipped” high school kids who reappeared five years later had to take a whole year of high school all over again. This includes Peter Parker (Tom Holland), his best friend Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon), and MJ (Zendaya). Even Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) was “blipped” reappearing in her apartment now rented to other people.
But we’re eight months past that and May is heading up some fundraiser, presumably to help the “blipped” regain their former lives.
We see early on that May and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) are in some sort of relationship, but they’re not the only ones.
Peter’s class is going on a summer science vacation to several locations in Europe, and he thinks that buying MJ a gift in Venice and then presenting it to her at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris would help him express his feelings for her. That’s his plan.
Ned’s plan is for he and Peter to be two single guys hitting on women in Europe. Instead, he makes an unlikely hookup with classmate Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) on the flight to Venice.
Actually, nothing goes right for Peter, which is in true Spider-Man style.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), also both blipped back, kidnap Peter in Venice after an attack by a water elemental, fought off by Mysterio/Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), and press him into service to fight one last elemental, a giant fire creature, in Prague.
Through a series of misadventures, Peter and Beck, who seems like a really nice guy from another version of Earth, join forces.
In the meantime, Fury gives Peter one final gift from Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), a pair of AI glasses called EDITH that control Stark Industry’s world wide defense network. This includes thousands upon thousands of weaponized drones deployed from an orbiting satellite.
The film seemed uneven because the bad guys were dispatched about halfway through the film. But it was all misdirection. The monsters were faked with holograms hiding hundreds of devices creating destruction so Beck could pretend to be a hero. Beck tricks Peter into giving him the EDITH glasses. Peter sees himself as a super-powered major league screw up who shouldn’t have control of that such mighty technology. He sees Beck as the next Stark, smart, heroic, and capable of saving the world.
Beck was actually one of Stark’s former employees, and along with other Stark Industries staff, planned to heist EDITH to use to create a super menace in London that Beck, as Mysterio, would stop. They wanted to undo all of Tony’s achievements and take the money and glory for themselves. Mysterio would be the new “Avenger,” the new “Iron Man.”
I’d been worried that turning Mysterio (one of Spider-Man’s comic book foes) into a hero would dampen the character, but true to form, Mysterio remains the master of illusion.
Once Peter figures it out, thanks to MJ finding a holographic projector broken off one of the drones, he realizes just how alone he is. That’s the same time MJ confronts him with being Spider-Man. With Ned too occupied with Betty, Peter confesses to being the web spinner, and MJ becomes another confederate.
But he needs more help, which is where Happy comes in. After being beaten and nearly killed by Mysterio in Berlin, thanks to Pete’s faulty spider-sense, and ends up in the Netherlands, he has to call Tony’s best friend. Apparently, he’s still head of security for Stark Industries and to prove it, he shows up in a private jet equipped with a mobile lab. In a homage to Tony, Peter uses the lab to holographically design a new Spider-Man suit complete with bleeding edge technology.
He finally wins a hard fought battle with Mysterio in London, recovering the spider-sense (or “Peter-tingle” as May calls it), which prevents any of Beck’s illusions from fooling him. Beck dies, but that’s not the end of his story.
Back in New York, Peter and MJ become an item (both Ned and Betty and Happy and May break up), so much so, that Spider-Man gives her a web swinging trip through Manhattan. That’s where the movie ends but not the credits scenes.
Mid-credit, Spider-Man and MJ end up in Times Square. A giant screen newscast comes on, and “DailyBugle.com” publisher J. Jonah Jameson (J.K Simmons who played the same character in the Toby Maguire “Spider-Man” movies) plays a tape, carefully edited, of Mysterio saying that Spider-Man turned on him and took control of the drones that were destroying London. The final kicker is that in his last illusion, Beck names his killer Spider-Man as Peter Parker.
That sets things up for a total disaster for Peter, May, and just about everyone Peter knows and loves.
The end credits scene is even more fantastic. Fury and Hill are really Skrulls. This might explain why they had control of a full spy organization in several European nations, when they don’t work for SHIELD anymore. But where’s the real Nick Fury? He’s vacationing on some massive spaceship. Once the Skrull who had been playing him tells Fury what had happened to Spider-Man, the ex-director of SHIELD claps his hands to get the attention of all of the Skrulls on the spacecraft and says, “Time to get back to work.”
I more or less had a tough time swallowing the first half of the movie. Too much teen angst and not enough spider-action. But once Mysterio’s true nature and plan were revealed, things got much better.
Even knowing Fury and Hill were Skrulls and that Beck and his cohorts were disenfranchised Stark employees looking to take over Tony’s tech using EDITH, their plan still sounded lamebrained. Good thing the action (most of the time) made up for it.
Holland is still the best Spider-Man actor in my opinion. He’s 16 years old, fighting major adolescent doubt, while the rest of the world wants him to step up and be the next Tony Stark. Happy told Peter he’d never live up to Tony, but then said Tony never lived up to Tony either. Peter never saw all of Stark’s doubts, which, among other things, led up to the creation of the menace Ultron (see the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron).
Tony never really grew up until he married Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and became the Dad to Morgan (Lexi Rabe). Then he saved the world with the oft quoted line “I am Iron Man.”
Peter was so worried about meeting everyone else’s expectations, including Tony’s, he forgot that instead of being Iron Man, he was destined to be Spider-Man.
I still object to Peter needing so much help. The comic book version, even as a teen, operated more or less alone for a long time. But I suppose that’s too unrealistic, especially with a teenager facing “Avengers level threats.”
Now, as always, he’s got even bigger problems.
Fortunately, after a bit of a scare, I found out that Spider-Man is returning to the Marvel Universe, supposedly in July of 2021. I guess we’ll find out what happens to everyone’s “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” after all.
Too bad they blew his secret identity. He was about the only movie hero left who had one.