Spider-Man: Far from Home’s plot betrays Marvel’s megalomania and serves to show how widely known the cinematic universe has become.

Although the movie explores the bond between the late Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and his protégé, Peter Parker (Tom Holland), the film does not care to explain the history behind this relationship. The film also does not worry about the background of characters such as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Far from Home simply assumes that audiences have seen the majority of films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and enter the theatre well acquainted with the history of the characters and the world they live in. Marvel is that sure of the popularity of its cinematic material. Woe to audiences that have managed to stave off the superhero deluge, if there are any.

Far from Home takes place soon after the events of the Avengers: Endgame. Half of all the creatures in the universe might have disappeared for five years only to reappear shortly before the climax of Endgame, but the world seems much more devastated by the death of the billionaire inventor, Stark, who sacrificed himself. This is perhaps a result of the pronounced regret studio heads felt about the loss of the MCU’s most prominent star being carried over into the movie.

School has started again, and it seems billions of people that have been thought lost have been accommodated back into the prevailing political, economic and social sphere of their respective countries without much of a hitch. Peter, who is facing pressure with having to fill the shoes left by Stark, and his classmates go on a trip to Europe.

But Peter does not get a break. He is recruited to aid Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero from another universe, to defeat beings known as the Elementals. Peter soon finds out that things are not what they seem and saves the day against an unexpected villain.

I will drop the pretense and reveal that Mysterio is the actual villain of the movie. His name screams “villain”, and he is known as one of the most iconic rivals of Spider-Man. The film neither fools fans of the comic books or anyone else that happens to google “Mysterio” by its plot twist just before the third act. Pretending that Mysterio is the good guy until after halfway into the movie is a mark of the bad writing that has come to characterise Marvel movies.

Fortunately, Mysterio comes off as one of the well-drawn villains of Marvel, which is a rare feat given how dull and one-dimensional most antagonists are in the MCU. His motivations are still cartoonish, and his plan is all over the place. But he is just a brilliant guy, without superpowers of any kind that manages almost to defeat Spider-Man with nothing but illusions.

The scene where Mysterio torments Peter, which is almost a call back to Terry Gilliam, is the best part of this movie. The special-effects are terrific, the writing is awesome, and the directing is fantastic. Unfortunately, this part of the movie only lasts several minutes, and we are back to the monotony and predictability of the film’s writing and the overzealousness of its action set pieces.

As sad as it is that Marvel dragged a respectable actor like Gyllenhaal into a comic book role, his acting is, as always, impeccable. Holland himself holds his ground next to Gyllenhaal, but I still cannot help but wonder if he is too much of a Spider-Man, like Pierce Brosnan was too much of a James Bond.

Toby Maguire is still my favourite Spider-Man. He may have never looked like a high school student, but at least he did not seem like Kevin Feige wished the Peter Parker of the comic books to become a real boy.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 13,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1002]

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