Spider-Man: Far From Home (Marvel Studios, PG-13)

Endgame is behind us now. Thanos, The Mad Titan has been defeated, the worlds population has been restored, and everyone is trying to pick the pieces back up and put their lives back together. Enter Peter Parker. Protégé of the late Tony Stark. Friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and teenager. Returning to the the living realm 5 years after being snapped out of existence, fighting the most important battle in the history of the human race, winning, and losing his greatest role model in the process, Peter is desperate for a break. So what does he do? Goes on vacation with his class to Europe.

The impact of the events of Endgame is made immediately clear. People aged in the five years between the Snap and the Blip. Five years for people to grow up, mourn, and try to move on, when suddenly everyone that was gone popped back into existence. And now, with the emotional stress of Thanos’ return, Tony’s death, and saving the universe in the not so distant past, Peter Parker just wants to relax with his friends and just be a kid again.

But this is a Spider-Man movie. Not a Peter Parker movie. And despite the fact that he tries to leave his suit behind. It gets packed anyway (thanks Aunt May), and Nick Fury turns up to run the show once more.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is the final movie in Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Where most people felt that Endgame was the end of the most perilous phase the MCU has seen yet, Kevin Feige, MCU show runner, made it clear that this film would be the one putting a bow on everything. It is the perfect way to dismount from the rising action that has come to be known now as the Infinity Saga. It is far more small scale, intimate, and features the MCU’s darling teenage wonder.

Tom Holland is the Spider-Man we will never deserve. The young English actor fits the Peter Parker mold too well. But the charisma and charm that we love him for has changed bit in this film. With all that he has gone through, we get a look at a far more broken, distracted Peter. He wants to tell MJ he really likes her, he wants to let other heroes do the work for a while, and while that obviously isn’t how it all goes down, those themes never go away. Peter argues with Fury, even avoids him for a large part of the film, he commiserates with Quentin Beck, he makes plans with his best friend Ned. Truly, one of my favorite things about Far From Home, is how badly Peter tries to avoid being the hero. It’s a very human moment that we have only really seen from Tony Stark.

Enter the Elementals and Mysterio.

Quentin Beck, played dashingly by Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler, Prisoners), is from another universe, another Earth. The Magical hero fled his universe when the Elementals, massive creatures of Air, Fire, Earth, and Water, destroyed his world and everyone he loved. These Elementals are here now, on our Earth, and they are gearing up to attack us in the same way they attacked him. Quentin’s nom de plume Mysterio appears to be the answer to Peter’s prayers. Someone who is capable, prepared, and willing to fight, when he isn’t. And Beck is prepared to do whatever it takes, with or without Spider-Man’s help.

And then Peter learns about the danger of proximity. He is close to danger, and he is close to his friends, therefore his friends are close to danger. Almost immediately the Elemental threat is too large to be ignored, and Peter has to act if he wants to save those closest to him. It is this perfect illustration of the truth of being a hero that drives Far From Home, well, home. It is the argument put forth by Benjamin Parker in the Tobey Maguire films: “With great power comes great responsibility.” It’s a line that hasn’t been used verbatim in the Tom Holland films, but one that is plainly shown here. Peter can’t abdicate his duties, regardless of how tired he may be.

The remainder of the film, post Peter’s realization of this, is dedicated to Spider-Man learning to trust himself, even believe in himself. He hasn’t honed his Spidey Senses (named something far more funny in their early stages), he isn’t confident that he can replace Tony Stark as the Avengers new leader, and he doesn’t know how to tell MJ he really likes her. Three disparate subjects that criss-cross and intersect each other lithely and naturally. All of these things feel important in this film not just because the writing and direction are inspired, but because Tom Holland convinces his audience that he is just a kid who wants to be a kid, but will never truly be able to.

To help further deliver this message are good performances all around. Jake Gyllenhaal is a better Mysterio/Quentin Beck than I thought we would ever see on the big screen, Zendaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Euphoria) is wonderful and awkward and alluring as MJ. Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Homecoming) reprises his role as Ned, Peter’s Best friend, and charms you all the way home. Jon Favreau (Avengers: Endgame, Chef) and Marisa Tomei (The Big Short, My Cousin Vinny) share palpable on-screen chemistry and Happy Hogan and Aunt May. Really, Marvel Studios has honed their ability to cast talent to near perfection. Everyone feels important, everyone fits, and (most importantly) everyone delivers.

Spider-Man: Far From Home is a movie ostensibly about being a teenager, but truly about grief, emotion, self-confidence, and responsibility. Peter is closer now to leading the Avengers that he was before. Whether or not he is quite there yet is up to you.

Oh and stay for both post credits scenes. For the first time in several films, they actually have large implications for the future of both Spider-Man, and the universe at large. | Caleb Sawyer

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