One of the toughest aspects of being a superhero is the constant sacrifice. No matter how many times you save the world, there is always some new threat that needs addressing leaving little time for rest or any semblance of a normal life. This is the dilemma that Peter Parker faces in Spider-Man: Far from Home.
Eight months after the events of Avengers: Endgame the world is finally adapting to life with those who were resurrected in what is now known as The Blip. For Parker (Tom Holland) these past months have been especially tough to navigate. Still mourning the lost of Tony Stark, Peter wrestles with the pressure to fill that heroic void. What he desires most though is a chance to be a regular teen again, even if it is just for the length of a school science trip to Europe.
Hoping to have a relaxing vacation and express his love to MJ (Zendaya), his plans take an abrupt turn when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) seeks his assistance. Fury wants Spider-Man to help a mysterious new hero, Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), aptly named Mysterio by Parker’s classmate, stop four elemental monsters from another dimension. Taken by the charismatic new alley, Parker finds it nice to have another hero to confide to. However, he soon realizes that when it comes to Mysterio, not everything is as it seems.
One of the strengths of Jon Watts Spider-Man films, aside from Holland’s charming performances, are there compelling villains. There are no faceless hordes of aliens or individuals who essentially have the same powers as the hero. Instead Watts presents his villains as average people whose livelihoods were destroyed by the arrogance of superheroes like Tony Stark. It is these forgotten individuals with a chip on their shoulder that prove just as dangerous to society as any alien invasion.
Watts wisely uses Mysterio to further expand on this growing extremist resentment. The master of illusions, Mysterio is the living embodiment of a world where technology is allowing people to believe what they see, even if it is not real. Probably the hardest villain in Spider-Man’s rogue gallery to bring to life, Watts does a wonderful job of visualizing the chaos and nightmarish paranoia that Mysterio’s antics cause Spider-Man.
As Mysterio, Gyllenhaal also proves to be the perfect counterpart to Hollands web-crawling hero. He is just sinister enough that the audience knows to fear him, but convincing enough that one can understand why Holland’s insecure Parker would trust him.
It is this desperate need to believe in something in a time of change that opens the door to even greater danger.
Despite these heavy burdens Parker must carry, Spider-Man: Far from Home never forgets that he is a teenager first and foremost. This not only provides several humorous moments that anyone who has been to high school can identify with, but also allows the love story to unfold in an organic way. It is especially nice to see that this version of MJ feels far more relatable than previous incarnations. She has her own sense of agency and feels like an intellectual equal to Parker.
Spider-Man: Far from Home energetically builds on its predecessor while setting the stage for a new exciting era in the MCU. One where new leaders must assume the mantle and build on the road that others have paved.