Spider-Man Homecoming was one of the standout successes of 2017, offering a truly fresh superhero film to the Marvel canon. Homecoming re-energised the Spider-Man character after a plethora of outings, injecting a youthful, electric energy through Tom Holland’s outstanding debut. Hope was therefore high that its follow up would meet or surpass the energy of the first outing, and while Far from Home is highly entertaining, it never quite ignites or offers any difference to the raft of Marvel superhero films that have come before it.
Spider-Man: Far from Home picks up directly from the finale of Avengers Endgame, with a high school video that provides some wonderful tongue in cheek moments alongside a Whitney Houston classic. This humour continues throughout the first 30 minutes, with some brilliant comedic references to the disappearance, then reappearance of millions of people, something that the more serious Avengers Endgame brushed over in one of its many plot holes. Humour is well timed, playing to the strengths of its predecessor Homecoming perfectly. However, what starts in the same vein as Homecoming quickly turns into a continuation of the Endgame story, that while clever in construct, never allows Tom Holland’s awkward teenage Spider-Man to shine in the same way he did in his first film.
Once again as with Captain Marvel and Ant Man and the Wasp you can’t help but feel that an amazing individual character is being used purely as filler to something bigger, rather than being celebrated as an individual. This has been a real problem in recent non Avengers Marvel outings, as the Marvel universe has increasingly sacrificed character development over cinematic universe stories. Creating films that hold an expectation of audiences having seen every other film in the series. Never truly offering a step on point for someone new to the franchise.
However, despite these core weaknesses, Far from Home is also full of love for the Spider-Man character. Offering 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 that ensues, while giving the character a more global dimension.
Tom Holland once again proves why is one of the best actors to have donned the suit, even though his character feels slightly more restricted in organic development after the brilliant introduction made in Homecoming. Another key strength of Far from Home, comes from Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as the enigmatic Mysterio. A beautifully nuanced character, playing with audience empathy, while complimenting Holland perfectly.
But for all the positives, there are also substantial problems in the films narrative. First amongst these is the character development of MJ (Zendaya), her strong feminist character, full of intelligence and dry wit, replaced by a shallow and stereotypical love interest. Ejecting the very constructs that made the character unique and different. While best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) has no opportunity to further develop his character, becoming a comic sidekick rather than supportive figure and wing man to Holland’s Peter Parker. In a similar vein Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) also feels out of place, a character who is purely there to achieve links to Marvel’s cinematic past and future plans. Once again placing the cinematic universe above the individual characters and stand alone story.
The result is film that feels like a filler and reset, rather than a sold stand-alone adventure. And while the end tantalises more interesting things to come, it feels very much like a return to the Toby Maguire trilogy ethos by the end, rather than a continuation of the Homecoming journey.
Spider-Man: Far from Home is entertaining, action packed and humorous, but offers little in character development. Opting for a safe Marvel formula over a continuation of the new and fresh ideology of Homecoming. Ultimately providing an enjoyable but highly forgettable Spider-Man outing, despite a strong cast and excellent production effects.