How many times have we done this?
How much more can we take?
Spider-Man: Far from Home is all too familiar. It is a painful exercise in rehashing stories, ideas, characters, and excitement for a new generation. We have now reached the point of the fourth iteration of Spider-Man on the big screen in less than twenty years. We began with Tobey Maguire in 2002, followed by Andrew Garfield in 2012, then this version of Spider-Man was presented in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and then finally, we were gifted an animated version in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). Among these four different iterations of the character, there have now been nine movies. As we arrive here at the ninth, sitting through another episode of a shredded man in his twenties playing an awkward sixteen year old child attempting to woo his high school crush despite being unable to verbalize anything in her direction other than, “Hi,” and “Wh-wha-what??” we can safely say that we’ve had enough.
Worse yet, on top of this being a supremely tired Spider-Man film, this is an even more tired entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the twenty-third entry for the franchise, acting both as the epilogue to the “Infinity Saga” as it directly followed-up Avengers: Endgame, while also serving as a prologue to the future of the franchise in a post-Captain America and Iron Man world. Yeah, that’s a lot to put on this movie; and yeah, it makes it impossible for it to succeed on its own. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) suffered from having to deal with the Avengers and Tony Stark-ness of it all as well. However, in that case, it took much more of a backseat to Peter’s own story, making his way through high school and his personal conflict with Michael Keaton’s Vulture. At the end of that movie, Spider-Man turns down Tony’s request that he join the Avengers in favor of remaining the “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” and playing out his high school life. Here, that is all thrown away. He has no choice but to take up the mantle of the leader of the Avengers in the wake of Tony’s death. The film glorifies this revelation, as though it was always meant to be Peter’s destiny as Tony’s successor, time and time again painting his character in Tony Stark’s image.
It goes without saying that the character of Spider-Man is a fan favorite. He always has been Marvel’s most popular character. However, Kevin Feige & company seem to have a misconstrued idea of why people love him so. Spider-Man has always been beloved as the small-town hero. The kid from the Queens, just trying to make his way through high school, through college, trying to pay his rent, successfully scoring a date, and reckoning with the death of his uncle and his aging Aunt May. Here, we seem to be losing that. Peter Parker has seemingly been gifted the keys to Stark Industries, the mantle to the Avengers, and the burden of taking on any otherworldly threats Earth might face from here on out. This is in direct conflict with the other half of this story, which makes a point of reminding us that Peter is just sixteen years old, doesn’t know how to talk to a girl, and is largely preoccupied with typical high school activities.
The high school aspects of this story provide the moments where the films are able to succeed, though they are more hit and miss than they were in Homecoming. Somehow, all of Peter’s classmates that we met in that film are still the same age as Peter, implying that all of them were part of the “disappeared,” or whatever you call them. The film handwaves over this fact, and that’s fine. It preludes with a five-minute scene showing how everyone has moved on, and that’s it. Everyone’s moved on, don’t think about it, okay guys? So we go to Europe, and shenanigans ensue; shenanigans entailing Sam Jackson and SHIELD, along with Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, doing his best to make this movie interesting. This feels like an extension of Gyllenhaal’s character in this year’s Velvet Buzzsaw; eccentric and over-exaggerated facial expressions, while also being very warm and sympathetic. It works, but it doesn’t do enough to save us from the overwhelming feelings of oversaturation with this film. Couple this with the terribly executed romance with Zendaya’s MJ character and you have yourself a really tough two-hour sit.
All this goes to say that Spider-Man: Far from Home is a disappointing, unrewarding experience and one we could do without. Not only have we had enough of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think we can now agree that we’ve had enough Spider-Man too. Of course, as this movie would suggest, we will be getting a lot more of both. More Avengers movies, more Spider-Man content, more Disney dollars, more heroes fighting computer-generated danger. We’ve been doing this for nearly twenty years. At some point, you would have to think that we’ve had enough. I guess that point will be different for everyone; I just know that I’ve reached it.