Why 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Has a Strong Connection to Iron Man
How does the world deal with the loss of Tony Stark? What happens when friends and family reappear after five years, without having aged, to a world that’s tried to move on without them? The opening minutes of Spider-Man: Far From Home attempt to deal with these questions coming out of Avengers: Endgame with varying degrees of success but with high degrees of hilarity. Far From Home serves as a sort of postscript to the first 10 years of the MCU, tying up loose ends and leaving doors open for new things to come.
The film doesn’t do a stellar job of trying to explain how the people who'd disappeared manage to reinsert themselves back into the lives of people they'd left behind. The event, dubbed “the Blip,” is literally just a blip in the grand scheme of things and is good for a few laughs, which is par for the course for a Marvel film. What the film does do well, however, is pay homage to Tony Stark. In fact, Far From Home is the perfect film for every Iron Man fan who hasn’t gotten over the fact that their favorite genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist is gone.
Far From Home is the passing of the torch, or tech, as it were from the old guard to the new. Much has been made about Tony’s fondness for “the kid,” or Peter Parker, a.k.a. your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and the film explores their bond and how much pressure a high schooler feels with the world watching his every move. Several bits of dialogue stress the point that other heroes are unavailable and that it’s up to Peter to pick up the slack.
It couldn’t come at a worse time, however, because a young adult has a lot of other things on his mind. Namely, trying to tell a girl how he feels about her during a school trip to Europe. The girl in question, played to wonderfully androgynous perfection by Zendaya, is awkward, shy, and is one of the brightest points in a film that has plenty of bright points. The made-for-film character of Michelle Jones is cheekily nicknamed MJ as an homage to Spider-Man’s love interest Mary Jane Watson, but is not the same person.
Given that the MCU seems to be moving in the direction of Peter and MJ getting together, anyway, it seems a particularly odd choice to make an entirely new character with the same initials. The pairing doesn’t quite come close to past iterations of Spider-Man and MJ, but Tom Holland and Zendaya have an adorkable chemistry that’s still pretty fun to watch.
Helmed by director Jon Watts, the sequel is even funnier than the first, with all the players and plot elements coming together almost like a straight up romantic comedy that’s part National Lampoon and part John Hughes. You almost forget that it’s a superhero movie at times because the bits without superheroics are just too funny and too good, particularly the scenes with his best friend Ned, played by Fil-Am Jacob Batalon, who gets a meatier role as the sidekick who covers up for Spider-Man with his own adventures.
But it’s still a superhero film, so there has to be something to battle. In this case, it’s a bunch of elementals from another part of the multiverse, threatening to destroy more than just the friendly neighborhood. Fortunately, there’s the mysterious Mysterio, who relays the story of his own earth’s destruction at the hands of the world-ending elementals. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the dimension-crossing, fishbowl-wearing lightshow, whom comic fans recognize as normally belonging to Spidey’s rogues' gallery.
Ravaged by the Blip and the events of Endgame, the world is hungry for heroes, and this enigmatic visitor from Earth-633 has just the tools needed to put a stop to the raging elementals. In a take on Spider-Man’s perennial struggle to balance his personal life with the great responsibility of wielding great power, Nick Fury has called upon his help to assist Mysterio but Peter has other plans and all this hero business is putting a damper on his vacation.
Peter constantly struggles to live up to the ideals his hero Tony Stark embodied, but Happy Hogan reassures him that even Tony couldn’t live up to Tony and it’s a reminder that living large can be its own burden. As Peter and Quentin Beck aka Mysterio bond in a manner reminiscent of Peter and Tony, we’re left to wonder what brave new world the MCU is forging. With entirely new characters like MJ filling up the roles typically played by characters from the comics, and new interpretations of old characters, Far From Home feels like Marvel has wiped the slate clean and is willing to play with it.
Far From Home is a good balance of light-hearted humor and touches of sentimentality. The cast is stellar and Gyllenhaal is great as the multilayered Mysterio; Marisa Tomei is the Benjamin Button of comic book aunts as she seems even fresher and younger here than in Homecoming; even Peter’s two bumbling school chaperones Mr. Dell (J.B. Smoove) and Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr) are extremely funny. It’s so much fun that Peter’s trip to Europe even without the superhero parts can almost be a movie in itself. Far From Home gives closure to Peter and Tony’s friendship while giving the former new relationships to navigate.
The key to it all is balance. The movie balances just enough comedy with drama, a little action with a little romance, and some twists and turns thrown in to make an interesting story. It’s also ultimately about Peter finding the balance between being a regular high schooler and being a superhero. Interestingly, the mid-credits scene throws the biggest monkey wrench of all to that resolution, and unlike the ersatz post-credits scene of the rereleased Avengers: Endgame, Far From Home actually has a post-credits scene that might just leave you with more questions than all the ones that were answered.