Even after becoming Spider-Man, being snapped in and out of existence, and helping save the world, Peter Parker is still an awkward high school kid dealing with awkward high school issues. That’s what’s so special about Spider-Man: Far From Home (out July 2nd), a movie that goes bigger, more bombastic and more comic-booky than its predecessor while never losing sight of the everyday struggles that make everyone’s favorite wall crawler so relatable.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.
Far From Home takes place in a post-Endgame world, as Peter (Tom Holland) and his friends are returning to normal life after being phased out of existence for the past five years. On top of dealing with the loss of his mentor Tony Stark, Peter is also struggling with his budding feelings for MJ (Zendaya). While a school trip to Europe seems like the perfect place for Peter to spill his guts to the girl he likes while also taking a much-needed vacation from being Spider-Man, the sudden appearance of dangerous elemental beings throws everything into disarray.
This sets the stage for some spectacularly fun set pieces, as Spider-Man and his mysterious new ally Quinten Beck (a show-stealing Jake Gyllenhaal) fight back against water and fire monsters while the iconic sights of Venice and Prague crumble around them. While Spidey does more battling with CGI creations than he does with actual super villains, the big brawls are still fun to watch, and give the movie a sense of scale that the more grounded Homecoming lacked. And without spoiling anything, some of the film's more surreal action sequences feel pulled right from the pages of Spider-Man comics.
One minor gripe I have with Far From Home is that it lacks a true villain for most of its first half, which had me yearning for Michael Keaton's instantly-arresting Vulture from the previous film. But a genuinely surprising mid-movie twist sets up a gripping new antagonist, one who’s story connects all the way back to the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Far From Home wraps up with the kind of grand superhero battle you’d expect from a Marvel film, and packs a pair of shocking post credits scenes that have some serious implications for the future of the Marvel movie franchise. But even with all of the heart-pumping, creatively comic-book-esque action, the kids are the real star of the show here.
The chemistry between best friends Peter and Ned (Jacob Batalon) creates constant laughs, and Zendaya infuses Peter’s love interest MJ with the perfect mix of dark, sarcastic humor and genuine teenage awkwardness. MCU stalwarts Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreu) all make great appearances, supplying extra comedy and drama while making Spidey's adventures feel connected to the larger universe.
Far From Home isn’t just a fun palette cleanser from the emotional gut punch that was Avengers: Endgame — it’s a vital piece of the MCU that sets up some exciting possibilities for the next few years of Marvel movies. Still, it’s ultimately Peter Parker and his very real, very relatable struggles as a nerdy kid from Queens that give Far From Home its humor and heart, and make the film one of Marvel's best yet.