Spider-Man: Homecoming was one of the standout films of 2017, offering a genuinely fresh superhero movie to the ever-growing Marvel Universe. Homecoming re-energised the Spider-Man franchise after multiple cinematic outings, injecting youthful, hormonal and electric energy through Tom Holland’s outstanding debut. Hope was, therefore, high that its sequel would meet or surpass the energy of the first outing. However, while Spider-Man: Far from Home is without a doubt highly entertaining, it never quite rises above the raft of Marvel superhero stories now dominating our screens.
Spider-Man: Far from Home picks up directly where the finale of Avengers Endgame left us. Like Holland’s first outing, humour initially threads through the High School aesthetic, with some brilliant comedic references to the disappearance and then reappearance of millions of people. However, what starts in the same vein as Homecoming by offering us something different and fresh quickly morphs into a continuation of the Endgame story. While clever in construct, this plays to an ever-growing weakness in the MCU as each film overlaps with the next, never allowing individual characters or stories to shine. As with Captain Marvel and Ant-Man and the Wasp, it often feels like Far from Home is simply using individual characters as a filler for something bigger. However, despite this weakness, Far from Home is a visual treat from start to finish, with some of the best action set pieces seen in any Spider-Man film outing. Much of this is achieved by cleverly taking the character out of New York, offering a fresh feel to the action while giving the character a more global dimension.
Tom Holland remains one of the best actors to have donned the Spider-man suit, and alongside Jake Gyllenhaal‘s delightful and enigmatic Mysterio, Far from Home is bound to win hearts, if not minds. However, in other areas, character development is not only disappointing but lacklustre. MJ (Zendaya) built a strong feminist character in Homecoming, full of dry wit and spark. However, Far from Home betrays this character arc by portraying MJ as a swooning love interest rather than the strong and independent woman she should have been. Meanwhile, Peter’s best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) has little opportunity to further develop his character, becoming a comic sidekick rather than an important wingman to Holland’s Parker. In a similar vein, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) feels out of place as he is parachuted in to link up Marvel’s past and future plans.
The result is a movie that feels like a filler and MCU reset rather than a stand-alone Spider-Man adventure, and while the end tantalises more exciting things to come, it reflects a growing weakness in the MCU project. Spider-Man: Far from Home is entertaining, action-packed and humorous, but it also opts for a safe Marvel formula over a continuation of Homecoming’s new and fresh approach. It is, unfortunately, a visually stunning but slightly forgettable Spider-Man outing.