I went with Wump and a few good friends to see this, the so-called dénouement, the love letter to Marvel’s first three phases of cinematic adaptation and the closing chapter in whatever you want to call this epic story. There will be other chapters, but this was the end of the one we’ve been living through so far.
I’ll put this much before the read-more break, and then move into spoiler territory: It was a great movie and we really liked it. I mean, was there ever really any doubt of that?
Beyond this point, there are spoilers and I am not going to bother spoilertexting because it makes shit annoying to read.
So, to specifics.
As usual, I guess I’m just going to list some of the things I really liked and some of the things I was mildly disappointed by, and offer my overall thoughts on the story and the movie experience.
Like I said, the overall movie was pretty great. I didn’t hate the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, mainly because Bruce Campbell was in them. And I didn’t really see the rebooted movies so I have no real opinion about them, although I understand why they happened. Now that Spidey has made the switch from Sony to a-little-bit-Sony-but-mostly-Marvel, the new reboots are easily my favourite movies so far. And his addition to Civil War basically made the movie for me (don’t get me wrong, it was a great movie anyway. But Spidey and Ant-Man were highlights).
And Spider-Man: Far From Home was a great sequel to Homecoming, and a really fun movie to watch.
What was good? Well, the characters, obviously. The dialogue and the writing in general were superb. Every character did exactly what they needed to do, and interacted amazingly. The school kids were like school kids. The Avengers-connected team was like a family. The families were family. Happy and Aunt May were cute as all get out, both individually and as a pair. It all just clicked perfectly.
The romantic sub-plot, for all that some of the events were pretty telegraphed and the potential-rival-suitor aspect was thoroughly clichéd, was fine. Wump had the occasional groan as she was watching things fall apart, because she was thoroughly invested from the start in Peter and MJ getting together (so was I, obviously). Every setback, every noble sacrifice Peter decided to make, every time he failed to stick to his Plan and give MJ the necklace he’d bought, Wump was flopping in her seat and going “of course you’re not going to say anything, ARGH where are you going now.”
Which added to the fun for me.
And MJ and Peter have adorable awkward chemistry up the wazoo, which I believe is the normal chemistry-secreting gland in teenagers, so that checks out. Rumours of their real-life romantic connection notwithstanding, Holland and Zendaya knocked it out of the park with the acting in this movie.
The movie dealt with Thanos’s finger-snap and the un-Snappening, which is now canonically called “the blip” (loved the PowerPoint movie at the start, wondered where they were going with that for a second and then laughed and laughed). It didn’t delve into the very obvious extremely dark hypotheticals that almost certainly occurred when the blipped people returned (as discussed at length in the comments somewhere under this post), opting instead to illustrate the event in an amusing way. And that’s fine. We know it was bad. But things got better, and this is a Spidey movie.
The romantic sub-plot, by the way, incorporated the blip in a really clever and interesting way (and that PowerPoint movie…), although maybe more could have been made of the fact that yes, a little kid who lived through the blipped years would now be a hunky teenager, but the teenagers who were blipped and then un-blipped might just have a bit of a problem with him being a hunky teenager – not, perhaps, quite so attractive a prospect as he might seem? But I don’t know, maybe my ancient 41-year-old self has forgotten what it’s like to be a shallow and horny teenager. A bit.
Anyway, it was cool.
Parker’s mourning over Stark was sweet to watch, and the plotline over the E.D.I.T.H. glasses (that acronym, *kisses fingertips* mmmwah) was really clever although ultimately sort of a McGuffin since Mysterio already had plenty of resources … but okay, here we go, let’s talk about Mysterio.
Jake Gyllenhaal was fucking amazing. I knew, from some source or other, that he was going to turn out to be the bad guy who was faking the big CGI monster attacks (quite literally CGI, in fact), but I didn’t know the details. So this brings me to the mild disappointment I felt in this movie. As usual with Marvel, it’s a mild let-down in the villain department.
Okay, so my first disappointment had already been building up, because Gyllenhaal is brilliant and did such a good job of seeming like a good guy that I didn’t want him to be revealed as the bad guy, even though I knew it was coming. It was gut-wrenching. So that wasn’t really a disappointment, because it was fantastically written and acted and the betrayal was fucking real. I would actually call that a plus for the character, even though it was a fucking sad plus.
My “second” disappointment was that the multiverse very strongly hinted at in the trailers and then fleshed out (to the point of giving the alternate Earths / realities their special comic book numbers) was itself a red herring. There may or may not be a multiverse out there, but it was a lie for the purposes of this movie. Mysterio was just a disgruntled former Stark Industries employee leading a bunch of other former Stark Industries employees on a grand revenge-and-fame scheme. Boo, that really kinda sucked. Sure, make Mysterio a fraud and make him the bad guy. But you could still multiverse us, couldn’t you? We’re ready.
The bad guy – with the reminder / disclaimer at this point that part of my disappointment was because of how well Gyllenhaal played him – was really my main gripe here. I get why they did it. They did it well. But I just didn’t like it as much as I would have liked … basically anything else. My third disappointment was pretty much the whole revealed actual-character and the plan that he had. What was the plan? After he’d “saved the world from an Avengers-level threat” and become an Avenger or a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and killed Fury … what was his plan? Enjoy the sweet life until one or another of the actual Avengers came back? Keep faking it over and over and hope none of them stumbled on his tech which is super easy to stumble on? Create fake news and twist reality and public opinion so all the other Avengers were discredited and left Earth to him? What?
Plus, they’d already done the Fake News Villain-Maker in Iron Man 3. He was even an angry wannabe Stark adherent! They’d manipulated events and spun the politics and tried to turn the superheroes into villains throughout the Winter Soldier and Civil War arcs. They were done with that. Creating a final monster out of Stark’s technology really messed with Stark’s ending and legacy, and demonising the Avengers – especially Spidey, of all of them! – was dumb. We’ve seen the aliens. We saw Thanos. We know what’s what. Hopefully Phase 4 will fix this shit up because we don’t need it anymore.
Now, I’m not saying it wasn’t also done really well. They went in the wrong direction in my opinion, but they did it fantastically. They worked the Bad Guy Monologue into the script in a brilliant way (although what if Parker had touched literally anything or anyone in that bar? Just no), they linked it back to other MCU movies pretty flawlessly, and I really did buy the scheme (more or less) once it was revealed. I was disappointed not to have gotten what I was expecting, but I’m not going to cry about it because I am a Big Boy.
(Why did Mysterio go on chasing down Ned, MJ and Betty in particular even after his plan was pretty much fucked up and a bunch of other people probably knew his secret? Killing those three kids would not put the bunny back in the box, so the only real reason for him to bother was a lazy Bad Guy Wants To Kill Children device. That could have been left out, and five or six more “Peter Tingle” jokes worked in. But okay. Big Boy.)
The bad guys were fine. Gyllenhaal in particular was stellar. I only hope he makes it to a second movie because so few Marvel villains do. I’m not sure how they’d make it work without him going full Moriarty, but surely they could do something. Maybe he really could reveal that the multiverse is a thing, and that he controls the technology. Maybe he even stumbles on it by accident after his near-death setback, and becomes a Loki-style antihero because he tries to warn Fury and in true Boy Who Cried Wolf style he isn’t believed!
That might just be wishful thinking though. And admittedly, between this and the S.H.I.E.L.D. holograms and Thanos’s reality stone work (and the Skrulls!), we’re going to wind up wondering if any of it is real. So we should probably stop.
Oh, and the part of a Spider-Man (or any superhero) movie that I usually find painful – the angsting about the people he’s putting in danger, and the stupid lengths he goes to in protecting his secret identity – was all really well handled in this movie. To the point where it was a reasonably compelling and fun plot point (even if the “take off your clothes” scene was a bit on the ‘Allo ‘Allo nose).
Plus, this plot point gave us Night Monkey. Pure gold.
And the Peter Parker Is Spider-Man reveal at the end was brutal. Very nice book-end to Stark’s “I am Iron Man” at the end of the original movie, by the way. This really was the closure to the entire arc, wasn’t it?
Oh, and the harshness of that scene was softened – slightly – by the hysterical inclusion of J.K. Simmons’s J. Jonah Jameson coming back from the early 2000s to once again declare Spider-Man an enemy of the people and probably demand pictures of him.
Although as a sign of the times, maybe he will instead opt to demand there be less pictures of Spider-Man.
I even liked the final after-credits scene. Somehow the whole Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. being an illusion thing was a perfect ribbon around a movie that was premised on being an illusion. And it explained the slightly jarring “do not invoke her name” reaction to Spidey asking where Captain Marvel was … even though at the time I didn’t twig to it, I just thought it was Fury being Fury. All of that was very well-played … and it was yet another perfect book-end to the whole story. Chronologically, Captain Marvel and the Skrulls started the whole thing. Alright, Captain America really started it, but he got his closure. Now we have another beginning and ending, with Fury and Danvers starting the Avengers, and the Skrulls making a long-overdue appearance here in the final epilogue of the final chapter.
They were there all along. How many other stories actually starred them, rather than the characters we think they starred? See, this is where it gets to the point where anything could be an illusion, and it might be better to stop. But in this case, it was nicely done. And where the fuck are Fury, Hill and S.H.I.E.L.D.?
Well, where indeed?
Well worth a watch. I give it a Thanos’s chin out of a possible Bruce Campbell’s chin. Whether this makes it very close to perfect, or slightly better than perfect, really depends on how high an opinion you have of Bruce Campbell.