The first Marvel film after mega-blockbuster Avengers: Endgame sees Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) European school trip interrupted when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pays a visit. He needs Spider-Man’s help to battle a new enemy: the Elementals. Co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio.
How do you follow up Avengers: Endgame? It’s literally the biggest comic book movie ever made, triumphantly sealing a decade-long cinematic saga. At this point, even the most faithful disciple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe might feel that superhero fatigue settling in. If that’s you, this stick-to-the-formula Spider-Man sequel won’t shift your exhaustion. If you’re still game though, you’re in luck, because Far From Home presents something pretty great in the post-Thanos aftermath.
The five-year difference caused by The Un-snappening has led to mass confusion, to say the least. The film leans into this social chaos in more ways than one, which pairs nicely with Peter Parker’s own slice of social chaos: trying to tell his crush MJ how he feels about her. Their school trip to Europe seems like the perfect time and place, but Nick Fury drags him back into superheroics when a new caped wonder enters the scene—alongside destructive force The Elementals.
It feels like business as usual at first. Tom Holland’s loveably gawkish Peter Parker continues to balance teen life with hero life, which isn’t exactly new territory for Homecoming director Jon Watts (or for Spider-Man films in general). The insecurities from both identities come out again, but with different people attached to them.
As MJ, Zendaya’s charismatic pessimism stands out more in this sequel, especially when the big threat draws closer. Jon Favreau delights too as Happy, becoming more of a big ol’ softy as Peter’s reliever mentor while Mysterio, played by an on-form Jake Gyllenhaal, enters the young man’s life with loving warmth and an open ear—the total opposite of Tony’s cold, uncaring attitude in Civil War.
They’re all great stand-ins for some otherwise tired story arcs. It’s only when Far From Home exhibits its big baddies that things take a turn for the better—and smarter.
There are important, timely themes at play here that use the aforementioned social chaos to great effect. These tricky topics, often too complex to untangle in conversation, are elegantly woven within the film’s key villains. One scene, in particular, gives a horrifying example of their abilities in an incredibly visual, intentionally disturbing way. It all leads convincingly to a reasonably enjoyable climax that surpasses any action scene from Homecoming.
Some may write off Far From Home as ‘just another superhero film’, but doing so would overlook its mightily impressive ability to address immediate, real-world concerns in a palpable way for general audiences. (Oh, and stick around till the very, very end of the film—it’s worth it.)