Spider-Man: Far From Home is the third “Part Two” in the superhero’s 17-year career on the big screen – a feat unto itself. This second installment from Sony and Marvel expands upon what resonated for fans in Spider-Man: Homecoming – the John Hughes-esque high school dynamic, the humor, and the character-first approach to action scenes – in a way that thankfully (and easily) delivers a blockbuster better than Amazing Spider-Man 2 and one that sometimes surpasses Sam Raimi’s excellent Spider-Man 2, the franchise’s standard-bearer.
By doubling-down on Peter Parker’s struggles with identity, compacted with how he is forced to deal with the fallout of Tony Stark’s death in Avengers: Endgame, Tom Holland is given many opportunities to further deliver what will go down as the definitive take on the Marvel hero. This time, while on a European vacation with his classmates, Peter is forced to stop new villains, the Elementals, while teaming up with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a character that claims to be from an alternate dimension. Along for the hilarious, action-packed, and often poignant ride are Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), and MJ (an effortlessly-charming Zendaya).
The perfect palate cleanser to Endgame, here are three reasons (in addition to the ones you already have) for why you have to see this movie at least twice in theaters.
1. Tom Holland And Zendaya’s Performances
With Far From Home, Holland becomes the longest-running actor to play the role of Spider-Man. His “aww shucks,” instantly likable and relatable performance is both balanced and enhanced by Zendaya’s equally engaging MJ.
There is considerable sparkage between the two characters this time, as MJ finds herself walking an emotional balance beam of sorts; getting closer to Peter means getting farther out of her teenage comfort zone and further into the orbit of Peter’s extraordinary alter ego. The actors’ effortless chemistry during these moments are worthy of more scenes than the script gives them, as Holland and Zendaya forge the definitive big-screen take on these two characters’ complicated romance.
2. Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio
Gyllenhaal came this close to replacing Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man in 2004’s Spider-Man 2 when a back injury (and some contract negotiations) threatened to sideline Maguire for the sequel. Now, 15 years later, the Oscar-nominated actor finds himself playing one of the most iconic Spider-Man villains, albeit with a twist that we won’t spoil here. As Quentin Beck/Mysterio, Gyllenhaal gives the character the perfect amount of likability and edge as Beck emerges as yet another mentor figure for young Parker. (Actually, he’s more in line with being “the cool uncle,” according to director Watts.)
Gyllenhaal and Holland’s scenes have a chemistry so strong and engaging that you may find yourself wanting a spin-off just about them. That just makes the inevitable (and somewhat telegraphed) swerve in their relationship all the more painful to watch, but their change in dynamic is an organic one; it’s all in service of Peter’s larger arc and the themes he struggles to master. If Tony Stark was a bedrock for Peter, then Beck is a load-bearing column Spidey could lean on in a Tony-less world. The more time Far From Home spends with Peter forced to become his own man through the loss of those who have helped shape him, the better the movie and Gyllenhaal are.
3. That End-Credits Scene
Far From Home continues the Marvel tradition of mid-credits and end-credits scenes fans will be eager to tweet about upon exiting the theater. As fun and meme-able as Homecoming‘s tags were, Far From Home offers two of the best after-credits bits in the entire MCU. We won’t spoil them here, but know you will be satisfied – and maybe pleasantly surprised.
Far From Home honors the Marvel movie mold without breaking it. But what chances and inventive choices it does take within its expected framework push the edges to places that are always entertaining and never dull. In a summer full of misfiring sequels, Far From Home is a welcome shot in the arm to franchise fatigue, one that hits the mark in ways other comic book movie sequels wish they could. The best compliment I can give this movie is I can’t wait to see Part 3.
Spider-Man: Far From Home swings into theaters everywhere July 2. Grab your tickets now!