Film

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ Is All About Living In A World Without Tony Stark

It's the first post 'snap' movie in the MCU, and it's excellent.

Spider-Man: Far From Home Review

The Avengers call Thanos’ genocidal move to wipe out half the population of the universe ‘the snap’. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, the students of the Midtown School of Science and Technology, New York, nickname the world-changing event: ‘the blip’.

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

The Disney/Sony joint custody Spider-Man films put the Marvel Cinematic Universe through a teenage lens, that’s a vital point difference to the adult superheroes. Director Jon Watts (Homecoming, Cop Car) understands the quirks of modern teenage life, with evergreen concerns like friendship, popularity and even a good old-fashioned crush.

After the emotional punch of Avengers: Endgame, the MCU gets a chance to reflect on the blip in Far From Home.

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) goes to Europe for a school trip and adjusts to life without Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr). But a superhero succession plan is triggered while Parker is sightseeing when a new hero, Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), steps in to help fight apocalyptic elemental creatures from an alternate universe.

How much Spider-Man is too much Spider-Man?

Coming off the back of the excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, it feels like cheating going into Far From Home — the tenth appearance of Spider-Man in a film since 2002.

The familiar beats of Parker’s story sticks out most in Far From Home — he’s still working on the great power and responsibility thing — and a little fatigue sets in, which explains why they decided to send him on a European vacation.

In anticipation of the trip Parker sighs and says, “I really need this”, and so do we.

Far From Home excels within its pocket of the MCU and a crowded market of Spidey stories, with the way it responds to a world dealing with the loss of Stark.

In the grand scope of the MCU, Iron Man 3 dealt with the fallout of The Avengers for Stark, and Far From Home handles the repercussions of Avengers: Endgame in a similar way for Parker.

The smaller stakes of Parker’s adventures remain intact in Far From Home even when he’s beckoned to replace Stark.

Parker gets access to Stark’s security network via a pair of high-tech sunglasses and the first thing he does is order a drone strike on a romantic (Remy Hii) rival for his classmate MJ (Zendaya). Parker’s plan to get closer to MJ during the trip matters more than when a giant fire monster shows up bent on destruction; Zendaya and Holland are coupled perfectly.

A crush has the power to make everything else seem insignificant. It’s hard for these teens to care about the actual end of the world when they die of embarrassment daily.

Enter Mysterio

The MCU has cleverly tiptoed around what happened to Uncle Ben because, like Bruce Wayne’s parents, the character’s fate is common knowledge.

Since Parker’s introduction in Captain America: Civil War, Stark’s role as a father figure has supplemented Uncle Ben’s presence, and followed a similar trajectory. The arrival of Mysterio is poignant because he represents the stand-in for Stark the world craves.

Even Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is on team Mysterio, and assigns Parker to help him stop the elemental creatures.

Gyllenhaal is stoic and suave as Mysterio, and his heroic feats sell him as the next Iron Man — but like a profile on a dating app he’s saying all the right things and hiding sinister intentions. Gyllenhaal moves from brave to bitchy with ease, and becomes one of the great villains in the MCU.

Watts delivers stunning sequences using Mysterio’s powers to trick Parker, that gives off strong Nightmare on Elm Street vibes. The action sequences find creative ways to showcase Parker’s web slinging abilities in a European setting, but there’s a craving to see him leap between the skyscrapers of New York once again.

Men Are Disappointing

What’s evident most with Mysterio is that Parker’s evolution as a superhero is tied up in being let down by male role models: they’re either disappointing or dead.

Even the men in Parker’s life are open about their incompetence.

Parker’s bumbling academic decathlon teacher (Martin Starr) admits to being ill equipped to council the students after a near-death experience. Another chaperone, a science teacher (J.B. Smoove), thinks witchcraft is responsible for the elementals. And best bud Ned (Jacob Batalon) gets distracted by a romance with Betty Brant (Angourie Rice), when Parker needs him the most.

Spider-Man now has a personal connection to each villain in the MCU, first there was Vulture (Michael Keaton), and now, Mysterio, and it sets the stage for a grudge match in future films. It’s tantalising to know a bunch of mediocre grown men are humbled by a teenager.

The Future Of The Web Head

Far from Home wraps up phase three of the MCU with a moment of reflection, and it’s clear Spider-Man is the heart of future Earth-bound stories.

Make sure to stay for two of the best post-credit scenes the MCU has ever done with huge ramifications for future films. As the MCU expands to different cosmic frontiers, Spider-Man is the street-level hero whose problems will remain grounded in adolescence.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is currently in cinemas.


Cameron Williams is a writer and film critic based in Melbourne who occasionally blabs about movies on ABC radio. He has a slight Twitter addiction: @MrCamW.