Eurotrips are supposed to be fun, not stressful. You can’t blame Peter Parker (Tom Holland) for wanting to put a pause on being Spider-Man and just be a teenager for a little bit. He and other emerged from The Decimation (known in some corners of the world as “The Blip”) to come back to their original lives as they are, simply to a world that’s five years older now. A getaway school trip to Europe with best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and love interest Mary Jane Watson (Zendaya) may be exactly what he needs to heal both mentally and physically after the exhausting battle against Thanos and the personal losses the good guys took.

When you’re a hero, however, nothing ever gets put on pause, and a new threat is always bubbling under the surface. In Mexico that threat emerges in the way of Elemental beings, who have the ability to cause mass destruction in any capacity. One otherworldly Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), tagged as “Mysterio” has put forth his powers to eliminate them for good. Yet one more remains in the Fire Elemental that has made its way to Italy, and Mysterio lacks the ability to handle himself. The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has become global.

Admit, it feels like the Marvel Cinematic Universe edition of Peter Parker/Spider-Man has been with us since the inception, yet it only been a little over three years. Two solo movies and three supporting appearances have added to that sentiment, with the latest, Far From Home, standing as the official and strongly effective end to a weighty Phase 3…and maybe the MCU as it’s currently known?

The Russo Brothers sort of became the de facto directorial faces of the MCU since 2014. If any money had to be placed on any current embedded directors filling a same role, it would be Jon Watts. While the actual rights to Spidey are in definite turmoil, a safe bet would seem to be that as Holland continues to grow and go old with the character, so too may Watts as a stabilizing force. He’s gotten much better from an action perspective, utilizing the European locale as the backdrop for grand, historical set pieces that don’t feel like the lot of similar films. And yeah, not since Doctor Strange has a Marvel flock been this trippy and uniquely satisfying on pure visuals. You know the scene I’m referring to.

It’s no surprise that Far From Home—spoiler alert for Endgame—uses Stark, character beats from his past (clear parallels between Iron Man 3 and this movie), and his deity-like aura as the emotion of the story and the crux of Parker’s transformation. Far From Home sees Parker quite different from the young kid who so desperately wanted to be an Avenger. Now, he just wants to be a teenager; an understandable character tweak. Fighting Thanos up close and literally dissipating into ash does that to a person.

But as the old Uncle Ben line goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” All of the Elemental/Mysterio stuff (as entertaining as the latter is, supported by a very committed Gyllenhaal of whom we’d expect nothing less from) is kind of inconsequential and par for the MCU course. Far From Home may not end with Parker fully “becoming a man,” but it ends with him coming to grips that responsibility isn’t a switch that can be turned on and off, and this internal battle is the core of Far From Home. There were doubters to whether this iteration of Petey and MJ could work after Homecoming, but it’s clear that Holland and Zendaya have that cute, awkward teen lovey-dovey aspect about them that can transform into more grown-up fare as necessary.

Much has changed in the period of release for Far From Home to the publishing of this writing. #TeamDisney or #TeamSony? Maybe it doesn’t really matter? As long as Holland, Zendaya, and the rest of their spider-cast return, the template for success is there. Yes, even Sony could find it in a future self-contained Spiderverse.


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