Often, we view superhero films as their own genre. Sure, there might be action and adventure, a few laughs thrown in, but ultimately, superhero films are just that--films about superheroes. But, interestingly enough, in the past few years, the heavily hero inundated media has been getting some much needed variety from “punch-snarky-quip-punch-again,” or as I like to call it, "the Joss Whedon formula".
With films such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and Logan, our standard superhero films are being subverted. Winter Soldier is a spy thriller, Black Panther is a Shakespearean-esque family drama set in a fictitious African country, Ragnarok is a buddy comedy of epic proportions, and Logan is a gut-wrenching movie about, of all things, family.
It’s this sort of subversion of expectations (re: standard superhero films such as Avengers, Age of Ultron, Iron Man 1, 2, and 3, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Civil War-- you get the point) that has led us to the glory that is the MCU Spider-Man films.
In the same vein as 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, the recently released Spider-Man: Far From Home is in equal parts a Bildungsroman and teen comedy. It’s a masterclass in just how far you can stretch expectations on a film about caped crusaders.
We enter on Peter Parker after the events of Endgame and we are given our first glimpse into the “post-Blip” world. Blip, in this case, being the term used for everyone snapping back into existence.
The film does a wonderful job of showing just how insane the world became when suddenly, everyone who disappeared, reappears. Aunt May became homeless, as people had moved into their former apartment; the science teacher Mr. Clark’s wife left him under the guise of having been blipped; classmates suddenly became five years older and graduated. It’s interesting and horrifying all at once to be faced with the implications of everything the Blip did, and the film handles this in a spectacular way.
But Peter, for all intents and purposes, simply wants to go back to his normal life---he wants to go on his trip to Europe and finally tell MJ how he feels and be a normal teenager for once. Meanwhile, Nick Fury is hunting him down to help aid in the destruction of “the Elementals” as named by Quentin Beck-- aka, Mysterio. Played by Jake Gyllenhaal with the sort of good-guy charm that would make anyone believe everything he’s said, Mysterio is a fantastic villain.
While, admittedly, I’m not a fan of Peter as the new MCU Iron Man as they’ve been, like, physically hammering home for three movies now, I do feel that making Beck a disillusioned former employee of Tony made the most sense for this universe. The film did a good job of touching on the grief that not only Peter, but others on Earth felt for the loss of Iron Man, and by having Peter step into those shoes, it did feel like a solid conclusion. But I’m still not happy about it because I don’t really like Iron Man.
Far From Home is funny, well-paced, and has already cemented itself in my mind as one of the best MCU films to date. Watching all the pieces fall into place--how Mysterio did what he did, how insignificant details came back around into importance, the emotional journey Peter went through in his grief-- was incredibly satisfying and ultimately, made me want to see the movie again, as soon as the credits began to roll.
A few specific sequences in the film have mind-boggling special effects that made my head spin and desperately want to get my hands on a script to see how they managed to write something so damn cool. All of the core actors did an outstanding job playing awkward high schoolers and there was never a moment when I didn’t believe what I was watching, so to speak.
Overall, while not a perfect film. Spider-Man: Far From Home is still absolutely spectacular. It has heart and humor and a deeply satisfying journey to watch unfold from beginning to end.