‘Far From Home’ defies expectations for a Marvel film

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - 6:27pm

Sony Pictures Releasing

Sony Pictures Releasing Buy this photo
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In summer 2017, Tom Holland’s (“The Lost City of Z”) Peter Parker swung back into our lives with “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” The Spider-Man franchise has an impressive cinematic history with Tobey Maguire (“The Great Gatsby”) and Andrew Garfield (“Hacksaw Ridge”) donning the iconic suit alongside Kirsten Dunst (“The Beguiled”) and Emma Stone (“La La Land”) as their respective love interests. Now, from director Jon Watts (“Cop Car”), we have a British Peter Parker, and Zendaya (“Smallfoot”) is MJ.

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” is the most recent installment in the series, and it’s everything but a Marvel movie — in the best way possible. The action sequences are admirable as always, with Holland flipping on random rooftops like all spider-heroes do, but it’s the moments in between this action that take it from just another Marvel movie into a league of its own. In the opening sequence, an in memoriam segment about the state of the superhero world post-“Endgame” plays on the morning news show, produced by students at Peter’s high school. It perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the movie with its Ken Burns (“The Vietnam War”) effect, the watermarked Getty images of Tony Stark and the comic sans to boot. It fully leans into the fact that Peter Parker is literally 16 and has been to space, melted away and lost not just one but two father figures in his lifetime.

The jokes in “Far From Home” are characteristic of the Marvel universe, and are almost on par with those from “Thor: Ragnarok.” Delivered with Zendaya’s apathetic interpretation of MJ, or the frantic energy of the adults on Peter’s school trip to Europe, these sharp quips helped maintain a carefree vibe, even when our hearts broke for Peter. With the comedic timing of a rom-com coupled with the energy of a superhero movie, “Far From Home” takes two distinctive movie genres and seamlessly melds them together. 

The Marvel franchise is surprisingly good at developing their less action-packed scenes, though what makes “Far From Home” different is the fact that the characters are focusing on things other than the life-threatening enemies attacking them. Even compared to “Homecoming,” the newest Spiderman movie has a more intense focus on Peter’s actual life than his superhero responsibilities. Take his first encounters with Stark technology, for example: In “Homecoming,” Peter discovers the capabilities of his suit while searching for answers surrounding the “glowy thingy,” all to impress Tony Stark and the Avengers. In “Far From Home,” he messes with the new tech to try and delete an incriminating photo of himself from someone’s phone. Both high stakes, though in very different ways. It’s a refreshing change of pace.

But what would a superhero movie be without having to come up with schemes to try and hide your identity from friends? Diversity is the Hollywood buzzword that’s applicable to the “Far From Home” cast: Ned is played by Jacob Batalon (“Everyday”), a Filipino actor from Hawaii who also diversifies body type representation in the film, while Tony Revolori (“Dope”) portrays a Guatemalan Flash Thompson. On top of that, Peter’s direct competition for MJ’s attention is Brad played by the Chinese-Malaysian actor, Remy Hii (“Crazy Rich Asians”). In an age where more representation is demanded, “Far From Home” rises to the challenge, even if the main character is still the resident white boy of the internet.  

“Far From Home” is the first movie Marvel has released since “Avengers: Endgame” and, as such, it’s important to note that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Mainly, what actually happened to everyone in those five years between “Infinity War” and “Endgame?” It’s a complicated question that the movie tries to answer immediately in the opening school announcements, but still remains hard to wrap your head around. Whatever the confusion regarding the snap and its effects on school logistics, it adds an extra layer of complexity rife with snappy jokes and new characters. People who were 11 and didn’t “blip” are now the same age as those who did, like Peter and most of his friends. It’s funny and confusing and everything high school should be in the MCU.

While many of us may still be mourning the loss of Captain America (and his ass) in future Marvel movies, “Far From Home” is the perfect remedy to any residual “Endgame” depression. Whether it’s because of those post-credits scenes or Zendaya dyed her hair red for the movie’s press tour, Marvel fans everywhere can rest assured that their favorite heroes aren’t going anywhere.

NodeBox: 

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” 

Sony Pictures Releasing

The State Theatre, GQT Quality 16, Ann Arbor 20 + IMAX