Review: ‘Spider-Man: Far from Home’ Checks Its Baggage for a Fun Trip

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If you aren’t convinced by now that Marvel Studios sold its soul to the devil (no Disney joke intended), its latest release, Spider-Man: Far from Home, may change your mind. I mean, how do you top an 11-year, 22-movie box office run that ended two months ago with what may become the highest-grossing motion picture of all time? The answer is, you don’t try to top it. Instead, you take a step back to the basics.

It’s not a disappointment in the least that this epilogue to Avengers: Endgame is fully grounded on planet Earth with a decidedly smaller scope than its predecessor. In fact, it’s exactly what’s needed following the epic adventure that left several characters dead and buried, and most audiences drained. Every decision involved with the movie, from inception to script to production, seems perfect, and the execution is nearly perfect.

Starting with the character itself, Spider-Man is just the right choice to headline the post-Endgame Marvel universe. He was arguably one of the heroes most affected by prior events. He suffered the most emotionally, with a lack of age, experience and maturity to help comfort him. He’s also a fun, funny hero with an awkward, relatable alter ego, high school student, Peter Parker (played delightfully by Tom Holland.)

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The script takes Parker and his classmates to Europe for a summer trip, where he hopes to leave his spider suit at home and unwind from the ordeal he’s just experienced. However, when Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) packs it in his suitcase and a new challenge rises to face an Avengers-less world, he’s torn between his desires to simply be a teenage kid and his obligation to be a hero. When events cause both worlds to collide, the decision is forced upon him.

His adversary is also a wise choice. Again, there’s not a bad guy to rival Thanos, who can make half the universe disappear with the snap of a finger. However, the more intimate and personal villain here manages to provide a threat we haven’t seen before. It’s mind-bending, yet grounded in reality. The less you know about comic book history and its characters, the more you may enjoy Spider-Man: Far from Home and its surprises and rewards.

In this respect, the movie is liberating. You no longer need a foundation of knowledge from Marvel Comics to get the most from Marvel movies. Neither do you need the background of 21 other movies to fully appreciate what’s happening. Spider-Man: Far from Home acknowledges what’s happened previously, allows time to grieve with its main character, and then provides a new platform from which new stories can spring.

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Holland isn’t the only one to shine. Nearly every other actor portraying a supporting character is good. Zendaya provides a fresh take on Mary Jane Watson, the object of Peter’s affection. Jake Gyllenhaal is excitingly energetic as Quentin Beck, heroic visitor from an alternative Earth. Jon Favreau returns as Happy Hogan, who has evolved into a comical relationship triangle involving Peter and Aunt May.

Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, struggling to navigate a brave new world with fewer heroes and half a population that recently returned five years older. Spider-Man: Far from Home satisfyingly resolves remaining questions from Avengers: Endgame and poses a few new ones for future chapters. There’s really no tease about the future of the entire universe, but the first post-credits scene is a real cliffhanger for Spidey.

I find myself wanting to cling to the history behind the movie, but I really should move on from that, as I’ve mentioned it’s now safe to do. Regardless of your attachment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or any baggage you carry for it, Spider-Man: Far from Home is simply an entertaining movie, perfect for summer. I haven’t always been fond of the various incarnations of the character, but this one is without a doubt my favorite.

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