Tony Stark is dead, long live Tony Stark. This is the general vibe of Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is odd given this is a Spider-Man story and not an Iron Man one. If its predecessor was fixated on the snarky billionaire, then this film is flat-out obsessed with him. It asks who the next Tony Stark is and if that person is Peter Parker, before answering it whilst chastising the audience for thinking it could be. This Stark-centric plot is only one of Far From Home‘s several egregious crimes.
The plot follows Peter, eight months after the events of Avengers: Endgame, as he joins his class on a European Summer field trip. He hopes to confess his love to MJ, before Nick Fury appears and demands that he help in fighting The Elementals. These creatures are each comprised of a single element (earth, air, fire, and water) and are being held back by new superhero Mysterio. Also known as Quentin Beck, Mysterio has come from an alternate Earth which was destroyed by these Elementals. It’s an interesting, engaging plot but it’s also entirely a lie. It transpires that Quentin is a disgruntled former Stark Industries employee from the same Earth as Peter, who is using drones to project images of Elementals with weapons for the very real damage.
Setting aside how similar his plan is to that of Syndrome from The Incredibles, Quentin is an interesting yet frustrating character. His motive makes sense and his charm makes him close to sympathetic but the film makes him more evil than is necessary. He is compelling as a response to the callousness of Tony Starks actions, but Marvel isn’t willing to commit to the notion of Stark’s callousness. Quentin has every right to hate Tony Stark, but instead of fully exploring that validity he is labeled as evil and is suddenly willing to commit child murder.
It’s a nice touch to have Quentin’s cronies be former Stark Industry employees and allows for a couple of much-appreciated cameos. The biggest of these is Peter Billingsly as William, who was first seen being yelled at by Obidiah Stane in Iron Man. The most impressive aspect of Mysterio is his illusions, which are rendered beautifully by the Special Effects team. The CGI in the MCU has improved steadily over the years and is at its peak here. It’s a treat for the eyes with imaginative imagery that contains a large menagerie of moving parts. It provides the creepiest scene in the MCU as well as bombarding Peter with that guilt he’s been sorely lacking.
The most infuriating aspect is how Mysterio was used in marketing. There is something to be said for not spoiling the film’s plot twist in the trailer, however, the plot twist isn’t that he’s from the same Earth, it’s that he’s evil. The multiverse aspect was a large part of the marketing and, as exciting as that concept is, it ultimately leads to disappointment when it turns out to be a fabrication. The following installment in the story Spider-Man: Far From Home (not yet released) is set to feature the multiverse for real but it’s a struggle to be properly excited because all of the “YAY MULTIVERSE” energy was already expended here.
This isn’t the final twist in the tale as the end-credits scene reveals that Nick Fury and Maria Hill have been Skrulls for the entire runtime of the film. Specifically, they were leaders of the Skrulls Talos and his wife Soren which led to speculation about how often these characters crossed roles. More interesting is the hint this gave towards the upcoming series based on the Secret Invasion storyline. In it, important characters from across the years are revealed to have been Skrulls the entire time. However, given that they are the villains of that piece it seems like the MCU series is destined to go in a different direction.
That’s the one thing Far From Home does particularly well, is tease the future. Peter will not be the next Tony, but that won’t stop him from slipping into using his tech with ease. Peter and MJ are now officially a couple which means she is about to be kidnapped… A LOT. Aunt May and Happy Hogan had a Summer fling which is destined to never be mentioned ever again, as it should be. Mysterio is supposedly dead, but the unmasking of Peter as Spider-Man that he prepared will ripple across Phase 4 of the MCU. JK Simmons returns as J. Jonah Jameson, which is a different iteration than the one from the Raimi films but is filled with that same joyful aggression.
Far From Home is the oddest thing. In some ways, it understands the character. He is constantly fighting a losing battle, putting all those around him at risk and trying to do his best for the neighbourhood. In other ways, it doesn’t understand him at all. He (and the plot) are obsessed with Stark, he is constantly letting his real identity slip and he is constantly either infantilised or made to make major life decisions. The film sits in this odd middle ground where it’s a good film, kept from greatness by its own mistakes. It’s far from great but it’s also far from awful.