As the first film since Avengers: Endgame, one that’s set immediately after that deeply-felt, gigantic Marvel Cinematic Universe chapter and whose protagonist shares a special connection with Iron Man, Spider-Man: Far From Home has some heavy-lifting to do from a narrative standpoint. For one, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is still processing his grief over the death of his mentor-father figure Tony Stark. And two, in a world that’s memorialised Stark’s help in saving the universe, Peter is left to wonder how best to honour his legacy. But those aren’t ingredients for a fun Spider-Man movie. Far From Home finds fun in Peter’s growing fondness for his classmate MJ (Zendaya) and his wish to go on a superhero-free vacation, which in turn powers character motivation and the plot.
Though all those ideas are ultimately a part of the whole, they aren’t given equal weightage in Spider-Man: Far From Home. The MJ aspect of the story is really the only constant thing that sort of drives the film, with Peter caught between what he wants and what he must do. And amidst the narrative necessity of the new threat — this is a superhero movie after all — from its introduction to Spider-Man inevitably winning the day, Far From Home doesn’t give itself enough time to properly examine the emotional fallout of the abrupt end of Peter and Tony’s relationship. The only memorable exploration of grief is a conversation with Stark’s close aide Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Considering the events of Infinity War and Endgame, that ought to be the heart of this Spider-Man film, but Far From Home doesn’t seem to have the answers.
Thankfully, Spider-Man: Far From Home is a lot better in other departments, particularly its action set pieces and the rapid-fire comic exchanges. Bolstered by the powers of new entrant Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a superhero from an alternate Earth who’s described as Iron Man and Thor rolled into one and subsequently nicknamed Mysterio by Peter’s friends, and the…