Desperately Seeking Spider-Man: Iron Man’s Protégé Grows Up

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Logline: Following the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

You can’t blame Peter Parker for desperately needing a vacation.

As Spider-Man, he helped the Avengers defeat Thanos and save the world. His mentor – Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man – died, along with several other Avengers; Peter and moviegoers feel his absence intensely throughout the film. And everyone who disappeared in “the blip” five years ago has come back, complicating matters.

Can’t a teen superhero catch a break?

The answer is no, because the world needs him. He can’t avoid calls from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) forever. A new villain has shown up in Europe, where Peter and his high school friends are on a class trip. This throws a wrench in plans to finally reveal his feelings to long-time crush MJ (Zendaya).

I’ve said this before (see my review of Spider-Man: Homecoming): Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is the superhero we’ve been waiting for. He’s the best incarnation so far: sincere and humble, always putting others first. And exuberant, as we saw in the first film, when the weight of the world isn’t on his shoulders.

One bonus is that Holland and the actors who play Peter’s friends, including bestie Ned (Jacob Batalon), look and sound like real teenagers, with all the accompanying awkwardness and inadvertent hilarity.

Adding humor are interactions between Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Tony Stark’s right-hand man Happy (Jon Favreau), continuing the previous film’s running joke about Aunt May’s hotness.

Peter’s unwillingness to assume the Iron Man throne has both comical and serious results. That’s one appealing aspect of this film: combining realistic teen experiences with the gravity of a young superhero’s dilemmas.

Quentin Beck, a.k.a Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), provides the father figure Peter longs for. Fortunately for Gyllenhaal, Mysterio is more than just a square-jawed savior. He’s complex, and pushes Peter out of his comfort zone to prove he’s worthy of becoming Iron Man’s successor.

Spider-Man: Far From Home has it all: comedy, romantic comedy, drama, action, as well as a healthy dose of feminism. I love that MJ is not your typical teenage girl as they’re portrayed in movies. She’s smart and strong, and doesn’t hesitate to let people know it. The deadpan humor, delivered with attitude, works.

This franchise is probably my favorite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. Just one minor complaint: the relentless action and accompanying onslaught of sound in the final act became wearying. The good news? The best part was yet to come. Count me among the legions of fans who eagerly await the next installment.

A side note: kudos to the casting director and producers for hiring talented people of color: Jackson; Zendaya, who is of German, Scottish and African American ancestry; and Hawaii-born Batalon, who is Filipino American.

For a sneak peek of what Spider-Man will face next, stay in your seats for the mid-credits and post-credits scenes.

Women at the helm: Produced by 12 people; two are women: Victoria Alonso and Amy Pascal. Film editing by two people; one is a woman: Leigh Folsom Boyd.

  • Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
  • Languages: English, Italian, Czech
  • PG-13
  • Running time: 129 minutes

Rating (out of 5): ♥♥♥♥

Katherine Valdez celebrates storytelling on the silver screen, and laments the proliferation of trailers and movie reviews that give away the plot.

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(Click here for an index of movies reviewed)

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