Spider-Man: Far From Home
If you have not yet seen The Avengers: Endgame, stop reading right now as there are spoilers ahead. Ok, that’s out of the way here we go. Why does this new Spider-Man movie feel like an Iron Man film? Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. for 11 years, dies in Endgame, a heroic, self sacrificing death that kills him but brings back the billions who died five years earlier when Thanos (Josh Brolin) wiped out half the population of the universe. Haunting Stark is the death of the kid, the name he affectionately gave Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, who like billions of others was reduced to ashes by Thanos. Holding him as he simply faded away, Stark cannot shake his death despite living happily in the woods with Pepper and their child. Because you are watching a new Spider-Man film, it is very obvious that the Avengers brought back the billions who died, the five year period they were absent now called “the Blip.” Thrilled to be back among his friends in high school (did life not go on during the Blip?), they are about to graduate. But before they do, a trip to Europe has been planned for the class. First stop: Venice, where the water level begins to rise dangerously. An Elemental water creature appears and begins damaging the ancient city. Spider-Man springs into action, aided by Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), also outfitted in a super suit. Beck emerges the hero and is dubbed Mysterio, pledging friendship to Peter and the Avengers. The attacks by the Elementals continue, and Peter learns that Beck is not their friend but is in fact a villain. Meanwhile, Parker has real teenage troubles, trying to get MJ to notice him so he can tell her how he feels. Now why does this feel like an Iron Man movie? The ghost of Tony Stark looms large throughout, from his wanting Peter to lead the Avengers through to the connection to Beck and the Elementals. Even his good friend Happy (Jon Favreau) shows up to coach and advise the young Spider-Man in what he should do and what Stark would want to see him do. Knowing the young Parker loved Stark; that should be easy, but proves rather difficult. It was kind of cool to see Hap romancing Aunt May, played by the smoking hot Marisa Tomei. Filled with adventure, great visual effects and mad stuntwork, the film is a rollicking good time, typical of the Marvel connection. The films pretty much follow a template. Villain wreaks havoc, super hero shows up to save the day, villain finds out super’s weaknesses, but hero defeats villain, rallying from near defeat. Tom Holland is a terrific Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, whip smart but raging with teenage hormonal issues. Though Tobey Maguire will always be my Spider-Man of choice, Holland brings a greater sense of being a teenager to the part. Jake Gyllenhaal is wonderful as Mysterio, something about him is off right from the beginning. He manages just to show up whenever these Elementals are wreaking havoc, a red light. With slippery movie star appeal, Gyllenhall seduces Peter, and he fools Nick Fury too (well, sort of). It was fun watching the actor enjoy himself so much and deliver the goods in the part. No secret I adore Marisa Tomei, so any excuse to see her, I am down. Favreau does good work and Samuel L. Jackson is rock solid as Nick Fury. Straight up – I missed Tony Stark. Knowing Iron Man is dead was rough, and to his credit, Holland bears the weight of that loss in his performance. It certainly speaks to the impact of Downey Jr. in the films, he was clearly the beating heart and soul of The Avengers. Can Peter Parker assume his position? The huge shoes he must fill might be too large for the web slinger, and Holland is not the actor Downey Jr. is. A little hint – do stay through the credits because all is not as it seems.