Just saw Far From Home and … it was alright.
Although it may not seem like it, Far From Home has a lot to manage. We have to world-explain the ending of Endgame and how the snap affected everyone, we have to set up our new lead man, and we have to have a good Spider-Man movie on top of that.
For the most part they do it well, but as with The Infinity Saga we need our spherical storytelling engine in motion.
Of course, with Disney+ on the horizon, we can expect to catch up with our ‘New Avengers’ on that platform, but it is apparent that there are now two focuses going forwards: Earth and the Cosmos.
On the cosmic side of things, we have Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Thor, The Eternals and so on.
But on Earth, we already have Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp, a Black Widow prequel movie, Doctor Strange, and with Spider-Man as the new ‘Tony Stark’ character leading the way – the torchbearer role.
And that’s where things get complicated …
STATE OF THE MCU
The Infinity Saga was so neatly packaged.
Formulaically, it followed the rule of establishing a new character, build the teams, and maybe giving us an Infinity Stone. Simple, right?
The audience was able to follow different arcs and explore a different corner of the world at a time. The variety of directing styles and genres was also a massive help to avoid things getting stale. We had fantasy in Doctor Strange and the first two Thor movies, Sci-Fi comedy adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy, a heist with Ant-Man and the Wasp, and grounded superhero stuff back on Earth with Cap and Iron Man.
Each instalment felt like it had something significant to offer to the broader story.
It wasn’t so much ‘superhero’ fare, it was a series of distinct films interacting with each other.
As it stands, we don’t really have that yet. Everything feels like it’s starting from scratch. So keeping audience interest in paramount.
Far From Home is a good movie on it’s own. The action is good. It has one of the most creative fight-sequences ever.
But I have some issues, and it boils down to sustainability more than anything.
A STARK DEPARTURE?
Much of my criticism of Homecoming and Far From Home is that they feel more like Iron Man movies. The villains motivations go back to Stark, Spider-Man’s suit is made my Stark … Tony Stark.
Much of the appeal of the Rami Spider-Man movies is that we follow a young, struggling, just-getting-by Peter Parker. He has an old aunt he needs to take care of, he’s missing his classes, he has to run multiple jobs – it’s really stuff your typical young man can relate to. It’s managing that responsibility and doing the right thing at the cost of yourself.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Now, Uncle Ben’s absence bothers me. It means that Aunt May (who creepily never acknowledges he ever existed) loses an element to her character, and it means that Peter is purely motivated by the Avengers and external forces.
Far From Home does explore ideas of responsibility. But it’s not typical young person problems – Peter Parker is gifted an orbiting satellite with killer drones! KILLER DRONES! Yeah, you need to be responsible with that, but how many people can relate to that.
Money is also not an issue, especially when Stark Industries can just give Parker and May a check for a million whatevers. It feels particularly hallow when Flash Thompson is still snobby about his money … when Peter has access to a damn private jet by the end of the film.
What I’m getting at is … I don’t think having diet-Iron Man is better than Spider-Man; at least not in the long run.
Far From Home is a good movie, but I still feel that it can stray a bit too far from the Spider-Man philosophy.
EVEN. DEAD. I’M. THE. HERO.
“E.D.I.T.H.” for short, this was the name of the AI Tony gifted Peter; giving him access to an army of drones.
It’s a main plot point, and is what disgruntled Stark employee-turned supervillain, Mysterio, is after.
Honestly, I liked Mysterio.
He had cool powers and tied into a theme that really only hit me at the end; controlling the narrative.
He treats his super-persona as a brand, using CGI to create Avengers-level events, and has everything from props guys to script-writers to flesh out his compelling dimension-hopping backstory. I really love this, and it’s a good update and felt appropriately meta.
Sure, he’s got more of a Stark connection than a Parker connection, but it still works. Especially when we live in an era of Fake News and Deep Fakes, having him eventually frame Peter is brilliant.
His greatest power isn’t the illusions, it’s controlling the narrative.
Even dead, he’s the hero.
THAT END CREDITS SCENE THO.
This is where I actually felt optimistic about Spider-Man in the MCU.
After seeing Happy Hogan fly in to save Peter in a private jet, and Peter creating yet another high-tech Spidey suit, we see him defeat Mysterio … standard Spidey stuff.
But it turns out that Mysterio framed Spider-Man in his final moments, re-editing video footage to make it look like he was behind the drone attack.
Best of all, we get a return as J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson – now hosting his own Info Wars-esque website, The Daily Bugle. This was freakin’ amazing; a clever update, thematically and socially relevant, and we got J.K. Simmons back!
On the one hand, I am a bit miffed that in the long term we may not see Parker struggle with his double life working in the Daily Bugle. My guess is that it would seem pointless when he literally has Stark Industries and S.H.I.E.L.D. on speed-dial … but still.
I think that’s what bugged me most about this current Spider-Man. There are some changes that I really dislike … but I can entirely understand and justify why they’re there.
Do I miss the relatable web-crawler struggling to get by? Yeah.
But I think the biggest hurdles for the MCU going forward are going to be making Spider-Man more … Spider-Man. Now, we have real struggles. We have people who know his identity and can target his loved ones.
Now that is real character conflict.
The fact is:
Iron Man is gone.
Captain America is gone.
Simply having call backs risks using these already-established legacies as a crutch for new, flourishing characters.
The MCU needs to move beyond the Infinity Saga if it wants to stay relevant and forge new stories for their flourishing characters.
We don’t need Iron-Boy, we need Spider-Man.
We don’t need another Captain America, we need Captain Marvel.
Now is the chance for Marvel to start giving us our next awesome saga. I want new threats like Norman Osborn, Kang the Conqueror, or even Doctor Doom. I want new challenges and characters to route for who are just as well-defined as the ones that came before.
To quote J. Jonah Jameson: “I want Spider-Man!”