Spider-Man: Far From Home is the best live-action Spider-Man film to date, yes that’s a big claim I know but allow me to explain why.
Set just a few weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame, Far From Home catches up with Peter Parker, aka the amazing Spider-Man (Tom Holland), as he attempts to adjust to a world without his mentor Tony Stark.
Struggling with the public’s assumption he’s the natural successor to Tony as the world’s new Iron Man (Rhodey must be livid), Peter attempts to escape his superheroic responsibilities by joining his friends on a summer trip to Europe.
Unfortunately for Peter, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has other ideas, and our hero soon finds himself embroiled in another battle for the fate of the planet, this time against four deadly Elementals.
On hand to help though is the marvellous Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a heroic visitor from a dead parallel universe, who Peter believes has the potential to be Earth’s newest and mightiest Avenger.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is without a doubt my new favourite live-action Spider-Man film with Holland cementing himself as the most astonishing actor to wear the old red and blue onesie.
To damn it with faint praise Far From Home is, for the most part, typical Marvel fare (as if that’s a bad thing); balancing fast-paced frantic action with beautiful and hilarious character beats that keep you invested even when the punching, flipping and kicking has stopped.
And it’s worth noting the action in this film is bloody top notch, with the magic of Mysterio (who’s kind of like an off-brand Doctor Stange, Professor Weirdo if you like?) delivering the most memorable, mind-bending moments.
Similarly, it’s exceedingly funny with Martin Starr’s Mr. Harrington getting most of the best lines, but because it’s a Marvel movie everyone’s wittier than Oscar Wilde on his most smug day.
Where Far From Home excels most is in its themes and character work which intertwine like an intricate spider’s web spun by the improbable combination of a teenage boy and radioactive spider.
Because at the centre of this film is the theme of responsibility and the question of who we owe our responsibility to; is it to ourselves, is it the world, or is it to our friends and family?
It’s a difficult question but one that’s ultimately what drives every incarnation of Spider-Man across the multiverse of mediums in which he’s appeared over the last six decades.
Unlike any film before it (save Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2) Far From Home tackles this question, and basically says there are no easy answers, finding balance is hard but ultimately key.
It’s something fundamental to the Webhead, and it was beautiful to see Tom Holland capture Peter Parker’s historic struggle with this concept. In my mind it’s what separates his incarnation of the character from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s versions.
Sure we see Maguire moping around about not being able to get with Mary Jane, and Garfield literally stalking Gwen Stacy because he’s tormented by the ghost of her dead dad (TASM 2 was weird), but Holland’s version is the first live-action Spider-Man who so accurately gets how core the principle of responsibility is to the character, and how being the Wall-Crawler fucks him over.
Mysterio is similarly a character for whom the idea of responsibility is central, and while I can’t explain too much (the dreaded Marvel Snipers have taken out many a loose-lipped journo), Gyllenhaal’s bubbleheaded hero is a man who believes people don’t always live up to their responsibilities.
This is what drives him to battle the Elementals and try and save Earth-616, because he knows what it’s like to be let down and he will never let it happen again.
As you’d probably expect for an actor with a Bafta on his mantlepiece, and an Oscar in his future if there’s any justice (not for Mysterio, get real), Gyllenhaal is pure magic as Mysterio delivering a performance similar to Alfred Molina’s in Spider-Man 2 that elevates the idea of what a comicbook villain can be.
He very nearly steals the film from Tom Holland (ironic considering comicbook Mysterio’s predilection for thievery) and I hope that we’ll see more from the character in the future.
Were I forced to say something I didn’t like about Far From Home it would probably be that it’s nowhere near as epic as the likes of the last MCU film, which was Endgame so that’s hardly a surprise.
What it lacks in the ‘biggest movie ever’ spectacle department (sorry Avatar fans I’m future proofing for the re-release) it more than makes up for in character moments, including one scene that had me just as excited as Cap wielding Mjolnir.
Of course there’s also the usual ‘stacking of the dominoes’ to establish where the next film in the MCU is going but for the most part, it’s pretty unobtrusive.
Finally, the film is obviously made more poignant by the fact it’s the first Marvel film not to feature a cameo from beloved comicbook icon Stan Lee, the co-creator of Spider-Man.
Needless to say if Far From Home is any indication, Stan has nothing to worry about, his boy is in good hands.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is in cinemas across the UK on July 2.
More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.