Spider-Man: Far From Home is the first post-Endgame jaunt in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For that reason alone, it occupies a singular place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—but how is said universe getting along after The Snap That Wasn’t? Where does it go from here? What will we see going forward?
This contains ALL THE SPOILERS, so don’t read until you’ve seen Spider-Man: Far From Home.
What We Loved
Though we don’t get nearly enough explanation on this front, we do find out that when the universe “un-snapped,” there was a great deal of general confusion as people suddenly appeared in their former homes, places of business, and so on, all over the world. The event was dubbed “the Blip,” and the world had to figure out how to accommodate its “blipped” members, leading to Peter and friends having to redo a school year. It also seems as though May and Peter might have been displaced from their home due to the Blip. So again, lots of questions from this one, but at least we have some idea of how society reacted to the Snap Undo.
Also: The moment the kids weaponize “The Blip” to narc on Flash when he tries to drink an alcoholic beverage is just gorgeous.
Far From Home had a lot to live up to with Homecoming’s tone-setting home video, but the moment we heard Whitney Houston sing “I Will Always Love You,” we knew we were in good hands. It’s the perfect earnest but also half-assed tribute, with some ironic Comic Sans thrown in (or maybe we’ve gone so far around that Comic Sans is not ironic anymore??) and exactly how we would see Gen Z reacting to the death of three Avengers on top of the Blip and unBlippening.
Pepper Potts is Keeping Tabs On Tony’s Loved Ones
In addition to the fact that Pepper Potts is clearly still the (reinstated?) CEO of Stark Industries, doing all the philanthropic work that she amped up during her time in charge, she’s also still keeping an eye on the people that Tony loved most, sending big relief checks and keeping Happy on Peter duty. Even when we can’t see her face, she’s still out, making the world better.
Peter Takes Uncle Ben’s Suitcase Abroad
It’s like he’s protecting Peter from beyond, it’s fine, we’ll just cry through our holiday weekend.
We Wanted to Watch That Wakanda Documentary
On the plane, Peter is stuck sitting next to his teacher and finds a documentary on Tony Stark that makes him go all wibbly. But right beside it is a documentary on Wakanda, which was clearly made to help introduce the world to the country. We wanted to watch that documentary.
Far From Home Recommitted to Showing How Diverse Peter’s Community Is
While these characters are still lacking lines or much to do, Peter’s school trip crew is pointedly even more diverse than the previous film, including a student wearing a hijab, and a trans student (we know because Marvel sent out a casting call for a trans or non-binary actor to play a part in the film, and trans actor Zach Barack is playing a character also named Zach in the student group). A small step toward better representation in the MCU, but still an important one.
The Relationships Are Some of the Realest the MCU Has Ever Crafted
From Aunt May and Happy Hogan’s we-don’t-agree-on-how-we’re-labeling-this hang-outs, to Ned and Betty’s we’re-that-annoying-couple-who-is-super-cute-but-it-cannot-last, to Peter and MJ’s admitting-that-you-like-someone-is-awkward-and-hard, all of the relationships of this film have a sheen of reality to them that you don’t often find in these films. Peter and MJ’s first kiss(es) were the cutest damn thing we’ve ever seen, and the exact opposite of the Raimi-era’s upside-down kiss in the rain because first kisses are not sexy, especially when you’re teenagers. That initial peck on the lips should be just as legendary, if only for the fact that we’re rarely shown this very real scenario of two teenagers who have no clue what they’re doing.
Reverence for Captain Marvel
It’s already hilarious when Nick Fury tells Peter, “Do not invoke her name” when the younger hero dares to mention Carol Danvers. But it’s even funnier—and super touching—when you learn that “Nick Fury” is Talos.
Flash Thompson: Sympathetic Character?
After being the snotty rich kid in Homecoming, Flash Thompson is now posting videos that no one seems to care about, he loves Spider-Man, and we learn at the end that even though he almost died multiple times in Europe, his mom sends the butler to pick him up. Now I’m actually invested in the kid.
Ned + Betty 4-EVA
Everything involving Ned and Betty.
(A brief note from Leah: Personally I ship Ned + Shuri, mostly because I want a standalone movie of Ned marrying into Wakandan royalty and having to learn how to be a prince—a genderswapped Wakandan The Princess Diaries, if you will.)
Having allowed for that, Ned and Betty are a delight.
The Continued Refraction of the MCU
Yet again the villain is a monster of Tony’s own creation! And because this movie is largely about disgruntled former Stark employees, we get to see scenes from the first Iron Man and Captain America: Civil War from very different perspectives.
MJ is Perfect
Zendaya won our hearts the first time around as MJ, but this film finally gives her more than five quips, rounding out her character into a teenage girl who plenty of us know (or have been at some point). She tells the truth because it keeps people at arm’s length. She’s obsessed with death and murderers. She always has an unsettling piece of history to throw out on scenic walks. Forgoing the mythic “girl next door” trope gives us a version of MJ that teen girls can actually relate to, and the film is 500% better for it.
The Plot Twist Around Mysterio is Pretty Great
Rather than a failed actor with some handy special effects skills, this version of Mysterio hits much closer to home; with the help of his fellow former disgruntled Stark Industries employees, Quentin Beck works to create disasters that he can “fight” in order to make himself into the next superhero. After convincing Peter that he’s an okay guy, the kid gives him access to EDITH, Tony’s satellite defense platform, because he feels unready to assume any of Tony’s responsibilities. But the best part of this is not Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance (which is excellent, being equal parts charming and sinister), but the meta sight of watching him direct his own Mysterio “battles” while wearing the dreaded mo-cap suit that comes with the territory of being a modern-day actor. Perfection.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s Steve Jobs turtleneck.
Villain as Mentor
At one point, Beck tells Peter: “Never apologize for being the smartest person in the room.” Aside from the addendum that if you’re the smartest one in a room you should find a smarter room, this is a wonderful underlining of Peter’s non-Spidey personality. He’s a science nerd, just like Tony Stark, but unlike Tony he’s always felt poor, out-of-his-depth, and dorky. Beck reminds him that as amazing as Fury and Hill are, he actually is the smartest person in that room (in addition to being, y’know, a superhero) and they should value his insights and creativity rather than scoffing at him. When we learn Beck’s true identity, this line twists into a new form: Beck is a thwarted supergenius, yet another person who has spent years nursing hatred for Tony Stark after being humiliated. Beck thought he was the smartest person in the room, and after Tony’s treatment of him he probably spent years giving himself pep talks and reminding himself of his worth and intelligence. Given a potential mentee, Beck passes advice on to Peter in good faith—one gift he’s trying to give him during a long, evil con.
The Voice of EDITH
Peter’s first helpful AI in Homecoming was KAREN, voiced by Jennifer Connelly—a cute little Easter egg, as she’s married to voice-of-JARVIS Paul Bettany. Interestingly, they didn’t go for a recognizable name for EDITH: Dawn Michelle King, who has been first assistant editor on about a quarter of the MCU since Iron Man. Maybe they just needed a voice, but that’s a sizable role, so we’d like to think it was a cute thank-you for a decade of hard work. (That, or Marvel Entertainment wants to make sure they keep their employees from going full Mysterio…)
The Movie Isn’t Actually About Peter Taking On Iron Man’s Legacy
The trailers made it seems like the entire plot would center on Peter needing to step up and take on the mantle of Iron Man. Which was weird because… Peter and the Spider-Man persona have basically nothing in common with Iron Man, and that’s without counting the fact that Peter is a kid. But by the end, Happy admits to Peter that even Tony didn’t know how to be Tony—it’s not the kind of legacy a person can live up to. Instead, Peter gets the chance to design his own suit using Tony’s toys, proving the things that he and Iron Man actually do have in common: They’re kitbashing nerds who love to build stuff.
Rather than going the Secret Invasion route with everyone’s favorite shapeshifters, the Skrulls are here doing something far more important: giving Nick Fury a vacation? After spending an entire movie with Fury and Maria Hill seeming just a fraction “off,” we find out that it’s because they’re not Fury and Hill—they’re Talos and Soren, sitting in while Nick Fury hangs out with the Skrull fleet in space, gazing out on a holographic beach with a space colada. They truly have earned the downtime, and this gives us a better idea of how Captain Marvel’s side of things will be integrated into the MCU going forward.
Nobody Knows What They’re Doing
Typically, big comics events like Avengers: Endgame wrap up neatly, with the surviving characters kinda shrugging their shoulders and saying, “welp anyway… life goes on.” Far From Home makes it clear that, despite all appearances to the contrary, nobody has a clue what the next step is—not Peter, not Mysterio, not Talos and Soren as Nick and Maria. But by the end of the movie, they’ve got plenty to react to in Phase 4.
J. JONAH JAMESON IS BACK AND HE DID WHAT NOW???
The post-credits sequences in Far From Home are actually super relevant to the MCU going forward, none so much as the triumphant return of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. While the idea of recasting the part might have led to all sorts of fun possibilities, this new version of Jameson—a talking head for TheDailyBugle.Net—is so very apropos for this era of fear-mongering. Which brings us to said post-credits kaboom that changes everything for Peter Parker going forward:
He’s been unmasked by a crappy video tabloid?? WHAT. WHAT??
What We Really Didn’t Love
The MCU’s Continued Waffling On Iron Man’s Legacy
We get it. Tony Stark is complicated. The character is frequently delightful and anchored by a career-defining performance from Robert Downey Jr. But Tony Stark is also an asshole who has done some incredibly reprehensible things. If you like that kind of ambiguity, a character can become more appealing—but you can’t continually have it both ways, which is what Marvel has been doing for the past decade where Stark’s character is concerned. Everyone who challenges the concept of Tony Stark’s privilege, of his power, of his right to do exactly as he pleases, is ultimately such a horrible villain that we get to shrug off Iron Man’s misdeeds because the people criticizing him are committing their own atrocities. It was true of Aldrich Killian, true of Ivan Vanko, true of Adrian Toomes, true of Justine Hammer, and now true of Quentin Beck and former SI employees. It would have been nice, for once, to see someone criticize Iron Man’s legacy without being an actual supervillain. But Marvel simply can’t muster the brass to suggest that Tony Stark wasn’t always super.
The use of “I Will Always Love You” for the memorial video, when it CLEARLY should have been set to Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.”
One of the More Interesting Classmates is Wasted
We find out that Brad Davis—one of the kids on the Europe trip—was not a victim of the blip, but the film spends all its time using him as a potential wedge between Peter and MJ. Which, fine, it’s a common romantic trope, but it prevents us from finding out what the world is like from Brad’s perspective. Having your elder classmates become your peers must be incredibly disorienting, and it would be interesting to see how he feels about that.
Do the Skrulls really work? They sort of put us in the position of yelling “no take backs!” at a movie. On the one hand, it is a way to give us a gullible Nick Fury, which is funny. But on the other hand, this also meant a grieving teenager had to save the world from his dead mentor’s latest nemesis, without any real air support from Actual Fury (or whatever’s left of S.H.I.E.L.D.) which, if you think about it for five minutes, turns Far From Home into a horror movie.
This is a Spider-Man Movie… That Doesn’t Really Feel Like It’s About Spider-Man
This movie is packed with important information and action and twists and turns and a lot of characters. As a result, aside from the love story plot, this movie doesn’t feel like it’s actually about Peter Parker. Removed from the friendly neighborhood and tossed back and forth between authority figures who can’t stop asking him how he plans to defend the world from all evil, there’s very little to say about the mythos of Spider-Man in this Spider-Man movie. It just sort of gets glossed over while the action takes precedent. And that’s a shame, because that was part of what made Homecoming so great.
EDITH’s Fate is Never Addressed in a Meaningful Way
While there’s a lot in the film about legacy and about Peter feeling the need to uphold… everything on Tony’s behalf, the most important aspect of this is filed away for another day. Tony essentially gives Peter Parker the keys to his last defense system, stored in a satellite, and that system almost allows Mysterio to kill a lot of people. Knowing that, wouldn’t it make sense for Peter to deactivate the whole thing? Or at least have more of an opinion on how it’s used? Instead, he just leaves it up there. It comes back to bite him in the butt later with the Jameson reveal, but it still reads more like a hole in Peter’s character arc.