Marvel’s penultimate, climactic ending of the Infinity Saga brought us to the no-mans-land that stood as the stage for the battle betwixt Earth’s mightiest and the Mad Titan in Avengers: Endgame. Understandably, the aftermath of this MCU event has currently left things feeling like we have lulled into a dazed state.
Alas, Marvel and Sony Pictures look to remedy the situation and fill the arc reactor-sized void left in the wake of Endgame with the sequel to Spider-Man Homecoming movie – Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Spider-Man by all previous implications is the first film which will set the course for all the coming Marvel movies post-Endgame, as such one would think all the stops will be pulled out and new sights unveiled. So does the friendly neighbourhood Spider scale his impact on the MCU in his Eurotour?
Just know one of our conclusions will unanimously be “Aunt. May. Could. Still. Get. It.”
⚠ SPOILERS AHEAD ⚠
The world is just about the same as it was after Iron Man sacrificed himself, except for “the Incident” being replaced with talk of “the Blip”, where those that got Thanos-ed returned (just as quickly) five years older. We are not gonna go on a tirade about how messy improvised time-travel is to a timeline.
Like if Nick Fury was blipped, but was charged with giving the EDITH protocol to Peter Parker, then when did Iron Man give it to Fury? Was it a will thing? And even then, EDITH was built for Peter, with a handwritten note. This had to be done before he took on Thanos and before there was any assured path to victory. And why would Nick Fury be the one to hand Peter E.D.I.T.H.? Why not Happy? All very messy. Now, the friendly neighbourhood Spider has a serious case of internalised self-doubt as to whether or not he can fill the void left by Iron Man’s passing.
And to make matters worse, as the trailer put it, the “snap” created a rift in space and time introducing the multiverse, and a hero from multi-verse Earth – Mysterio – comes to fight a new threat – The Elementals – from destroying our Earth. And a messy again the nuances of this could potentially get, it was still better than what actually took place. More on that later.
And to deal with the threat, Nick Fury hijacks Parker’s school trip putting Spider-Man, and inadvertently his classmates, in spitting distance from the coming city-razing atrocities.
This new man of mystery hero, however, is not all he seems, and when he gets hold of E.D.I.T.H., a WMD comprised of killer drones from space, things get ugly.
So can Peter keep the Earth safe, his classmates alive and confess his love for MJ?
Okay, so I am not a great fan of Iron Man. However, do not hold it against me in this instance. The whole idea of the first Spider-Man Homecoming movie presented Spidey as a kid coming into his own. A kid that looked up to the visage of a powerful tycoon to then realise he was his own person, and in essence did not need to be an Avenger (even though he thought Iron Man was speaking in jest). So what we were expecting for the sequel was a Spider-Man that was in the full swing of things. What we got was a rehashing of film one – a Spider-Man with self doubt still trying to live up to Tony Stark and filling his shoes.
This puts that jet scene into a whole new context. Peter Parker makes himself a new suit channelling his inner Stark with all the holographic and AI tech one could conjure up, we are led to believe this to be a touching moment. An ode to the hero that saved the world and turned Thanos’ 50% off plan into a Blip on the universe’s radar.
However, we got a Spider-Man that has failed to evolve from the first movie. Forever in Iron Man’s shadow. Forever trying to look like him. The glasses. The mannerisms. And worse still, the capstone of the trilogy. The same problem John Boyega’s Finn has in Star Wars, but to a lesser degree.
Ultimately, character progress hits stagnation when the main aim of the narrative is geared towards MCU assimilation as opposed to focussing on the current narrative. Still, believe the Marvel Cinematic Universe quilt is not fraying?
Marvel Trope Swapping
Iron Man’s muddy fingerprints are but the tip of the iceberg. With a long run as Marvel Studios has had, it feels like we are now beginning to see the motifs that act as a crutch for the MCU. A crutch that is now getting old and tired.
Spider-Man: Far From Home took the best, and worst parts of the MCU. The colossal extinction-level event moved from being “The Incident” to “The Blip”. One also could not help but notice the assorted flavours and Pride Month colour/Infinity Stone schemes of the so-called Elementals. Or the use of projector/HUD graphics to crash-course us on a chunk of the story and mission. It all feels a little lazy. Or the fact that we had another Spider-Man villain who felt wronged by – you guessed it – Tony Stark. Even in death, Spider-Man is inheriting Tony’s beef.
And are we really going to get into the legacy of Iron Man? The fact that his Ultron fiasco and use of the gems placed the earth in the path of ultimate destruction? At least placed some doubt on that to create some dichotomy that made Peter Parker question his reverence for Tony Stark/Iron Man. Because we see he is never one to make the best decisions. From bringing a child into all-out Civil War or creating a healthy work environment. Case in point – Quentin Beck.
Ultimately, Quentin Beck aka Mysterio had his projector/augmented reality technology dubbed B.A.R.F. by Tony Stark (Tony does love his acronyms) back in the day and later fired. So Beck, along with a team of jilted scientists decides to marry his augmented reality techwith some real good ol’ fashioned mortar and stone destruction. And the smartest ones in the room conjure up a plan to fake a colossal “Avengers” event to… get rich? Okay. So essentially, Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s villain was a version of Iron Man 3‘s “Mandarin”, who was not Mandarin at all (the worst of the Marvel movies). Just another instance of where the lie was way more interesting and greater than the truth.
And the thing is we love Jake Gyllenhaal and the look of Mysterio. But those pesky character motivations and the one-scene-explains-all monologue backstory will always be Marvel’s Achilles heel.
Now given who we know Mysterio was in the comics, we knew illusion and the switch was coming. His reasons, however (we would hope), were not as shallow as the money grab.
The downside of being terribly familiar with the source material. But never apologise for being the smartest one in the room. And to have Beck rattle on condensing his bad guy history into one scene with the Guy Ritchie-esque edit was not the highest point of the film either. It had the same aftertaste of Iron Man 3 and the disappointing “Mandarin” reveal.
Not that Marvel is particularly political, save for the safe statements they flout to create a splash zone of mediocrity, the idea of Quentin duping the world into believing the extraordinary speaks to the age of misinformation and propaganda tactics. An effect that is particularly devastating on the back end of a tragic, catastrophic event like the Blip. Beck said it himself, that the world will now believe anything.
Cut to the post-credit scene of probably the greatest cameo – J.K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson –spouts off on spiderman and shows some Beck-doctored footage that does a slightly convincing frame job of not only Spider-Man being responsible for the drone attack in London, but also exposing Spider-Man’s true identity as Peter Parker. Not sure how we feel about JJ being put into the framework of an InfoWars/Alex Jones-type character. He’d definitely be more New York Post-y. But the slightly new characterisation puts the late-theme addition into context. Fake news is everywhere. And people that often spout the term are the originators too. It’s all very confusing.
Peter Tingle… in ma pants
It may seem like we started off with hate, so let us add a huge measure of love. Aunt May. Could still get. Though we don’t get the nurturing mother figure from her, particular seeing the moments she has with her nephew was not assured.
The love bug was truly in the air. And the thing with MJ is (get ready) we wish she was more like the comics. No, racists. We’re talking about confidence. The match of Peter’s naivety as far as intimate relationships go and MJ’s boldness made for great chemistry in many of the comic iterations. However, Zeydana’s MJ is only slightly less awkward than Peter Parker. And though I do love the dark comedy content and factoids (Boh!), I think that plays down on Zeydana’s true strength and power.
And I was not feeling the kiss on the bridge. Which was weird because they are both hot people. I hate to be that guy, but I was getting the Peter tingles more with Aunt May and Happy in the odd-guy-gets-the-beautiful-girl trope. That and the Swedish girl forcibly telling Peter to take off his clothes.
You can imagine how sick my search history is. However, MJ’s first Spider-Man express ride ziplining through New York did bring a smile to my face. Hopefully, they’ll build more on the chemistry next time around.
Spider-Man: Far From Home did what it do. Much of it has been a bit of a rehash, with Iron-Man continuing to be the connective tissue between the Sony and Marvel effort. However, it feels Spidey is still trying to find his place and footing in the MCU, all under the oppressive shadow of a dead man and the overwhelming sense of estrangement five + years after the Blip. Dude, like Fury said, you went to space!
So essentially, Spidey felt like he was in the same place we left him after the conclusion of Spider-Man Homecoming. And the hope of a multi-dimensional villain, that came with the likes of Vulture, was not delivered with Mysterio. What we did get was a multi-dimension tease that ultimate was chalked up to fake news.
Gyllenhaal added his actor spice to the final battle scene, but alas we do not think it could have moved the needle much. Ultimately, what we got was another villain done wrong by Iron Man. We would have been happier if they at least challenged the revered legacy of Iron Man. Casting some conflicting doubt in how Peter Parker saw him.
The action and set pieces, however, were as awesome as one would expect. Seeing the acrobatic grace of Spider-Man traversing the falling rubble in the Venice, Italy Water Elemental scene was terribly satisfying. The Mysterio psy-attach augmented reality scene I think either went on for too long, or could have been broken up with scenes from behind the pixel curtain of Gyllenhaal’s Beck at work. It would have also been great for Beck really break Peter’s psyche, taking pointers from a team member who was more on the psychology side of the operation, to orchestrate a mind-warping visual tailored specifically for Spider-Man. And the sad thing is we felt Beck really liked Spidey, so the fact Peter needed to be undone, we would have expected to see Quentin Beck filled him with a level of uncertainty and moral dilemma. Did not really get that.
Great action set pieces. Light humour. Everything you would expect. Not much takeaway besides that. Even with the post-credit tie-in to Captain Marvel, where Nick Fury and Maria in Far From Home were actually shape-shifting Skrulls. And the real Nick Fury was on a Skrull spaceship taking a simulated vacation. Wow. Surprise. Okay, what does this really mean? Fury was obviously not doing anything too important to need the body double. Again, it all feels like a point and “look at what we did that time” than actually moving things forward. Thus, no true purpose. Other than maybe hinting at another iteration of the Avengers or some other Marvel super-group coming our way.
And again with the deleted scenes! Remember the fight scene in the trailer before Spidey announced going on vacation? The scene showed Spider-Man taking on The Manfredi Crime Family. Apparently, it was meant to set up the MCU for new blood, teasing possibly Silvermane and The Maggia.
I argued the MCU is on the verge of implosion. Spider-Man: Far From Home is virtually saved, however, by its action sequences and moments of charm. And, when you consider Kevin Feige saying the Far From Home is the true end to the Infinity Saga, by his own admission, Spider-Man: Far From Home is an epilogue and footnote that we never knew was needed. This did not need to be the case.
Marvel’s formulaic approach, self-congratulatory odes and one-touch social commentary will not be enough to keep Marvel Studios’ cultural impetus alive for the next decade.
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