The Best Spider-Man Movie?
There’s probably a lot less at stake in Spider-Man: Far From Home than the last few MCU movies, but Spidey’s second solo MCU outing understands what most Marvel superhero movies don’t: that it takes a lot to beat a super-villain, physically, mentally, and emotionally. While the movie didn’t offer any concrete explanation, nor visual wizardry to illustrate just how Peter managed to look beyond Mysterio’s deception (he uses his Spider Sense, cheekily referred to in the movie as “Peter’s tingle”) at least the set-pieces are among the most exciting superheroic live-action-cum-CGI (maybe 100% CGI) Disney money can buy.
Yes, it’s kind of weightless and emotionally dry as you can’t see Peter’s face the whole time, but I’d admit that I’ve totally forgotten about the Avengers: Endgame‘s third act the moment Spider-Man goes berserk on a bunch of killer drones designed by Tony Stark. There’s a bit of that final hallway battle in Tosho Daimos in there and the drones somewhat like miniature Spider-Slayers. And yes, Wolverine never had a berseker scene as good as this, even in the overpraised Logan.
And it’s a total head-scratcher just how the movie keeps on pulling down its own underoos in the third act, keeps on dissolving any tension it builds around Spider-Man struggling to beat Mysterio and his drones, every time we see Happy and Peter’s friends quipping and none of them are believably in danger. Yeah, not even a single scratch on MJ, not a hint of bruise nor cuts on Flash or Betty. The jokes worked once or twice, not after the nth time.
It would have been so much better if the movie tries a little harder to convince us that aside from Spider-Man, his friends could really get hurt or die too, and that they’re really in mortal danger. That, instead of having this Disney Junior atmosphere that no one’s really getting hurt (we heard you, Deadpool)–except for the bad guys–and everything’s gonna be okay. It’s just mightily incongruous to have Peter doing death-defying acrobatics in one scene, then cuts to a joke about Happy dating Spider-Man’s aunt.
Also, just HOW does Peter easily overrides Beck’s access to EDITH? Didn’t he need confirmation from Quentin Beck first? No? That’s pretty convenient. There’s a bit of over-explaining too, telling the audience everything, which ruins a dramatic climax it couldn’t even sustain in the first place. They could have shorten that scene with just Peter holding Stark’s magic Tom Cruise sunglasses; comic book movie fans aren’t too dumb to not figure out by themselves what would follow. Then, cut to Peter and MJ. And while the movie made use of Peter saying “execute them all” in the mid-credit stinger, that scene where he easily disables all the drones also disarms the final dramatic confrontation between Parker and Beck.
And despite Peter’s overwhelming feeling of being over-matched, of being inadequate to be the next Iron Man throughout the movie, him finally having Mysterio beaten in his own game wasn’t just enough, all his superheroics weren’t enough. The final solution to all the problems in front of him wasn’t his own making, it’s the easy peasy solution of Stark’s magic tech. Tony Stark saves the day. Once again. From the grave, nonetheless. How annoying.
Picture this, Peter just had one final word with Beck, in a life or death scenario. Then, later, he just wear this magic sunglasses say the magic word and just like that, everything is solved? What a downer. What a Robert Downer. They could have cut that scene and I think that JJ Jameson fake video stinger would have worked just the same. Because it’s clear that it was fabricated.
This is not to say I didn’t enjoy Far From Home. But those mentioned above aren’t just minor gripes either. Still, I like how this is by far among the most “violent” superhero movies in the mostly Disney-safe shelf of the MCU. Maybe, I have to thank Jon Watts for that. Maybe, it’s Sony trying to make this new Spidey movie as bloody violent as the old Sam Raimi movies.
I also read complaints about the movie’s first and second act being bland, that Peter and his classmates were just walking around in different cities in Europe (that are quite hard to tell apart) and nothing happens. Well, I agree, their Euro-tour isn’t as crazy funny sexy as Michelle Trachtenberg and her friends in Eurotrip. Also, where’s David Hasselhoff?
However, the movie was able to establish the character of Quentin Beck aka Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal, once almost cast as Peter Parker in Spider-Man 2 and looks a bit like Tony Stark in those pair of sunglasses) real well. Aside from the good back-engineered backstory, Gyllenhaal also sells the mysterious superhero from another reality with ease as much as he does vindictive ex-Stark associate/employee. Best MCU villain by far? Good MCU villains isn’t really a crowded category.
And probably, there’s a bit of Steve Jobs/Tony Stark worship thrown in in there, which the movie could have explored further, wherein most people see Tony as their hero and yet, he’s also an asshole who mistreated people and fired employees, which eventually earned him his own rogues gallery tinged with a bit of corporate rivalry. You know, like the Disney vs. Fox or Disney vs. Sony thing?
There’s also a bit of commentary about this media-saturated times when Beck told Peter that people believe everything they see, like fake news. Wow, Spider-Man: Far From Home is so ripe for these small satirical jabs that it could have been more—not just another fairly entertaining product from the big superhero movie factory.
Spider-Man: Far From Home has some unrealized potential, and it’s marred by the jokiness and lightness inherent to Marvel/Disney’s design and over-reliance on the magical tech of Tony Stark. This might be a bit of a stretch, but it’s just disappointing every time Far From Home belittles Spider-Man in favor of MCU’s favorite dead superhero.