SPOILERS AHEAD FOR “AVENGERS: ENDGAME” AND “SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME”
If you were worried about the Marvel Cinematic Universe being in safe hands post-Endgame, I can assure you, it is in hands. The safety of those hands is debatable.
I’ll admit, I shed some tears when Tony Stark sacrificed himself in “Avengers: Endgame” to reverse the snap and bring back those we thought we had lost, including his protégé, Peter Parker. That was the first time I remember crying in a movie during my adult life. Iron Man was a character I grew up watching on the big screen. Someone who I felt could lead the Avengers to victory against every foe. And when he died, I sincerely hoped Spider-Man would be able to fill the heroic void he had left.
When “Far From Home” started, they showed the effects of half of all life on Earth suddenly reappearing, which they termed the “Blip”. It was a humorous scene in a school’s morning announcements. I laughed. The audience laughed. The jokes landed. But, was one of the most heart wrenching movie deaths in the 21st century really something to be made fun of? The final 30 minutes of “Endgame” were without jokes for a reason.
Then the movie went on to show Peter struggling to accept Tony’s death and stop a threat without other heroes to call for help. This juxtaposition of humor and grief made for a movie that switched tones more than Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.
Asking viewers to laugh at people blipping back into awkward situations and then asking them to feel for Peter as he grappled with a Tony-less world made it hard to invest in Peter’s arc throughout the film. If I couldn’t take Iron Man’s sacrifice seriously, how was I supposed to believe Spider-Man could?
Obviously, Spider-Man is a famously witty character who always has a funny quip in a dangerous situation. And he does in this movie as well. I’m not indicting Spider-Man in this movie so much as I am the closure it provides for “Endgame”.
Spider-Man actually has a fantastic arc in this movie, as his immaturity often gets him into awkward situations he is underprepared for. A high-tech gift Tony left for him is used for childish romantic pursuits and many other things it was not intended for. The realization that he doesn’t need to become the next Iron Man to save the world is a compelling examination of mentees trying to continue their mentors’ legacies. Many of his peers, who were underdeveloped side characters in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” were given much more to do and say this time around, like Zendaya’s MJ, who is an actual love interest that Peter cares about and not just another kid in his class.
However, this treatment of the finale of “Endgame” began the film on a sour note for me. Although, it did set the stage for a sadistic and despicable villain in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio. He was the highest point in this film, as his trickery left me second-guessing myself every time he was on-screen. The way in which he took advantage of the “blip” was both vile and brilliant. Weirdly enough, the person who took the “blip” the most seriously was the villain.
Mysterio’s menace didn’t stop after his defeat either, because he revealed Spider-Man’s identity and painted him as a threat to the public in the mid-credits scene. The shock of this scene cemented Mysterio as an excellent villain and set the stage for a sequel with a Spider-Man we’ve never seen before in live action, one whose identity is public knowledge.
Sadly enough, the successes in this film mostly centered around its villain, save for some fun situational comedy and a shocking cameo in the mid-credits scene that left my jaw on the floor. The MCU generally knows when to make jokes and when to be serious, but “Far From Home” seemed to have missed this lesson.
In conclusion, I have very mixed feelings about this film. On one hand, almost everything after the first 10 minutes was a solid Spider-Man film that satisfyingly developed its characters and set itself up for a hotly anticipated sequel. But on the other hand, it treated Stark’s ultimate sacrifice as a joke, laughing at the result of a genre-defining film’s climax. As for the character of Spider-Man and his story, “Far From Home” has shown he is in safe hands. But, for Tony Stark’s legacy and everyone else who watched “Endgame” wiping away tears, I’m not so sure.