The events in Avengers: Endgame left a void in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which made it unclear which character would become the de facto leader. Tony Stark/Iron Man filled that role for 11 years, and his death is seismic both in how it impacts the storylines going forward and how the films themselves are perceived.
First out of the box in this new world is Spider-Man: Far from Home, which finds Peter Parker (Tom Holland), possible love interest M.J. (Zendaya), best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon), and others traveling to Europe for a class trip. After being blipped out of existence for five years, Peter would very much like to get away from being Spider-Man for a while, but Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) will have none of it.
That’s because creatures that can control the elements are popping up all over the globe, and Fury needs Spider-Man to help a new hero, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), fight the creatures. Peter must find a way to keep his friends safe while trying to save the world from destruction, all while still trying to find a way to remain as normal a teenager as possible.
The appeal of Homecoming, the first Spider-Man film to officially be in the MCU, was how fun it was. For too long, the character had been mired in dark storylines that failed to show how fun he was supposed to be. But there’s a fine line between fun and goofy, and Far from Home crosses that line early and often.
Instead of clever moments, there are jokes coming from almost everyone on screen, turning the comedy into overkill. More importantly, though, the existential threat that is supposed to be the elemental monsters comes in the form of some of the worst computer graphics the MCU has delivered in quite some time. None of it feels real, even in a movie sense, and the film suffers because of it.
There’s another important fault that can’t be fully detailed without going into spoilers, but the film contains too little explanation about certain things in the beginning and way too much exposition later on. There’s a very good reason for this, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that the way director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers structured the film hinders its effectiveness.
Holland, however, remains the gold standard for the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. His good looks, charm, and boundless energy are a perfect fit for the superhero, and he keeps the movie afloat even when it drags. Gyllenhaal hams it up quite a bit, but his presence makes for a nice addition. Save for Zendaya and Batalon, the additional material given to other supporting characters this time around was, while not quite wasted, a tad misguided.
After the emotional blast of Endgame and the near-perfect fun of Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far from Home is a big letdown. While still completely watchable for anyone who loves these types of movies, it makes for a less-than-satisfying experience overall.