Written by David Holland
We made it, everyone! It took from basically the start of quarantine until Labor Day, but we have finished all of the entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Great job! Be sure you stay tuned at the end of this article for an announcement about what is coming next. For now, we need to take a little stroll through Europe with our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and a climactic battle in London because, as I’ve said before, the only three cities in the MCU are New York, London, and Hong Kong.
Of course there would be a sequel to “Spider-Man: Homecoming”! How could there not be? It took the MCU so long to get the rights to put Spider-Man in their films, they absolutely have to use him. There was a question of whether Miles Morales would become part of the MCU, but that still has not happened. Hopefully now that “Into the Spider-Verse” answered the question of whether a film starring Miles Morales can be successful, we can look forward to some crossover in a future “Spider-Man” installment.
Jake Gyllenhaal joins the MCU as Mysterio, and all of our favorites from “Homecoming” are back, including Tom Holland, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Zendaya as MJ, Jacob Batalon as Ned, and Marisa Tomei as the incredible de-aging Aunt May.
How Does it Hold Up?
How do I love this movie? Let me count the ways:
1) I have both been a teenager and chaperoned teenagers on field trips, and other excursions. I identify with Mr. Harrington, the increasingly harried teacher, so much that sometimes it hurts.
2) Peter’s unnecessarily elaborate plan to woo MJ, and his hope that it ends in a kiss, is perfect writing for a shy teenage boy with a crush.
3) There’s a bit of post-truth commentary that the movie only touches on but I think is worth exploring. Obviously Mysterio’s technology is far-fetched. I don’t think anyone could pull off three dimensional visual illusions on anything like the scale used in this movie. But we have deep-fake videos, edits designed to fool people into believing what they are already primed to believe. Mysterio’s last words to Spider-Man are: “People need to believe, and nowadays they’ll believe anything” and in a world of increasingly bizarre conspiracy theories, (Lookin’ at you, QAnon) Mysterio points to something in the MCU that we are dealing with in the real world now too. It looks like he will be helped along by J. Jonah Jameson, who appears to be the MCU’s equivalent of Alex Jones.
4) Callbacks to previous MCU installments pay tribute to Tony Stark’s impact on the universe, and put a delightful bow on Phase Three.
5) The Turn. When Mysterio gets the EDITH glasses (and thereby gains access to Tony Starks global defense network) is very cool. If you know Spider-Man lore, you know Mysterio is a villain from the beginning, but it’s still neat to see it play out in front of you.
6) I love seeing Peter confront Mysterio’s illusions. It reminds me a bit of the Scarecrow scenes from the Arkham Asylum video games, and the first time he is so overwhelmed by his inability to separate reality from fantasy. By the end, with his “Spider-Sense” (aka Peter-Tingle) in full force, he has the confidence to trust his instincts instead of just his eyes.
Theme: What comes next?
“Far From Home” is something of a post-script to the Infinity Arc. Thanos has been defeated and The Snap has been reversed, but at a heavy cost. Iron Man played an important role in “Homecoming”, but from the beginning of this movie, we are faced with his absence. Nick Fury built the original Avengers – Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye – but of those heroes three are dead (or in Cap’s case, super old), one is travelling the galaxy, and two are effectively retired. Now people on Earth are left wondering who will step up and Nick Fury wants to recruit Spider-Man to lead, and of course Nick Fury has never ever made a mistake.
Of course this leads to a massive impostor syndrome on Spider-Man’s part. Who could possibly live up to Iron Man? Peter’s self-doubt, fueled by Mysterio’s manipulation, and Fury’s lecturing, leads him to give up the EDITH glasses and potentially doom the world. That’s why Mysterio is a great villain for this film – because HE is the actual impostor, a fancy light and sound engineer who pretends to be a hero to get what he wants. The only way around Mysterio’s illusions, is for Spider-Man to set aside his self-doubts and trust himself. Spider-Man comics and movies have always made allusions to the challenges of growing up, and this movie does this expertly – Peter needs to build his confidence as Spider-Man, to believe in himself as Tony believed in him, but he also needs confidence in his relationship with MJ. That’s not easy for a teenager on a school trip, even someone with super powers.
So, What’s Next?
Well, recently I Rebel started doing a weekly Saturday Marvel movie watch-a-long in their Discord Channel, which we will go through the non-MCU Marvel movies. I am already behind (story of my life), but we will first make our way through the X-Men trilogy, so look for a new format and a new series to hold us over until the next MCU installment.