‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ bridges the divide
Acting as a cinematic sorbet after the all-you-can-eat buffet of “Avengers: Endgame” and prior to the next installments of Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero spectacles, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” bridges the divide in a decidedly straightforward, yet always engaging romp with Peter Parker in the Spider-verse.
The film follows “Endgame” and its direct precursor “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” with the same director (Jon Watts) and web-slinger (played by Tom Holland), as he deals with both the Earth-rattling events of the former, and the hormone-fueled high school hijinx of the latter.
The world is recovering from the events caused by Thanos’ snap (here called “The Blip”) and is attempting to return to life as normal. This involves a school science trip to Venice for Peter Parker and his pals Ned (played by Jacob Batlon) and M.J. (played by Zendaya), and rival Brad (played by Remy Hii).
Peter plans to use the trip to reveal his true feelings for M.J., but a surprise visit from Avengers lead Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) requires greater responsibility from the young lad.
It seems the planet is endangered by visiting beasts from another dimension that are being battled by former Earthling Quentin (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), a stuntman who has taken on an alternative identity as Mysterio.
Though the premise may sound complicated, it all goes down like a Slurpee on a summer day, without a moment of brain freeze. It’s simple, but not simplistic, with a second act loaded as a training ground for Marvel’s special effects department to lay groundwork for future outings.
Familiar faces join the journey, from hot Aunt May (played by Marisa Tomei) to hulking Happy (played by Jon Favreau), Tony Stark’s former Guy Friday who is now tasked with overseeing Parker’s well-being.
Instead of taking the story to one of global annihilation (though parts of Europe indeed get trashed), writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers focus on Spidey's internal battles, as he wrestles with feelings of first love just as much as he tangles with evil-doers. It's a move that pays off given Holland's cherubic visage and aw-shucks demeanor.
"Home" doesn't skimp on the humor, either, with a number of running gags that don't feel overplayed. For example, Happy's not-so-secret longing for Aunt May gets a step closer in amusingly uncomfortable ways, and Spidey's new dark suit earns him the moniker "Night Monkey" from Italian townsfolk, which always brings a smile.
It culminates in a trippy climax that I'm sure cramped many computer animators’ hands as they packed in every possible pixel for richly rewarding results. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” may merely be a bridge from one era of the Marvel franchise to the next, but it carries the most important part for the franchise’s future: its heart.