Anisa: So, Spider-Man in Europe! What did you think?
Paroma: I think they could have set it anywhere and the story would have been the same. The setting wasn’t super important to the narrative, was it? But I appreciated Europe for the bell tower scene. That could never have happened in America. Hehe.
Also, I like how these Spider-Man movies feel connected to Avengers but have a distinct tone of their own. Larger things are happening in the world, but much more immediate are the very teen-aged concerns of a young superhero, grappling with everybody’s expectations as well as what his heart wants.
How did you like it?
Anisa: I loved it. You’re right about the distinct tone of these movies, which probably speaks to why I have more emotions than thoughts about Far From Home. I don’t have a ton of analysis the way I did with, say, Endgame, but it does so well at capturing what it feels like to be sixteen and face life-or-death situations when regular high school life already feels so heightened and near-fatal all the time.
Paroma: Somehow I was expecting a lot more Zendaya this time. I kind of thought that was the promise of the last movie. That this one would have Zendaya as a more integral part of the Spider-Man team. But instead we were thrown into a time, months after the Blipped came back, where Peter has already developed feelings for M.J. and we never got to see its beginning.
Anisa: I don’t think that his feelings for M.J. came out of nowhere, because you could see him becoming interested in her at the end of the last movie, but I agree that it seemed like she would join the team pretty early on, and we barely saw her. It was all, “Grr, Brad is getting to spend all that time with her, I’m going to linger in the shadows and mope.” (Also, if this class trip is only for the Blipped doing their years over, why is Brad here? He clearly survived and grew into a hunk. I am so confused.)
I would have much preferred that she found out early and helped him figure out who the villain was instead of serving as the source of his jealous angst. I suppose she’s too cynical and smart to ever have fallen for that trick the way that Peter did, and then there goes half the plot. But she’s such a great character that it’s a shame she was so underused.
Paroma: By the way. They’re calling it The Blip just to mess with us, right? Cause the audiences had decided it was The Snap, and Marvel was all, nope, we will not give you that one.
Anisa: I know! Not a fan of that name. My favorite description is still The Snapture.
Paroma: I like Peter’s arc here. It is a direct reversal of what he felt in the last Spidey movie. But the only way you’d fail to see his arc is if you’ve avoided all other Marvel movies in between. Which is possible, I suppose. But that’s the problem with character arcs spanning a series. You have to watch all of them to see the growth. Peter went through a lot, so it makes sense that he would go from, “I want to be an Avenger at fifteen” to “I’m just the Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man and I want to hang out with my friends, please call a grown-up Avenger to fight the monsters.”
Anisa: I loved how personal it was. Peter took a journey in Homecoming that was all about him finding his place as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man who wasn’t quite ready to be an Avenger, but now we’re catching up with him in a moment where he no longer has that luxury—or the mentor that was trying to protect him for just a little longer from having to take on the weight of the world. He’s still making mistakes that are 100% understandable for a sixteen-year-old to make, but he no longer has Tony to catch him when he falls. And not only does that raise the stakes, it also has an emotional weight to it that runs through the film. Peter is in mourning.
Paroma: By the way, what is wrong with these adults? Why are they forcing Tony’s mantle on him? Why does he have to be the next Iron Man? Why can’t he just be the first Spider-Man? I thought that’s what the real arc would be. Him rejecting the mantle. And when he does, halfway through, I applauded his decision. ‘Cause he’s right. He’s in school! I know Avengers are a bit thin on the ground, but have they forgotten Black Panther? Shuri? Let the siblings deal with the hard, grown up stuff. Heck, even Scarlet Witch! She’s probably as powerful as Captain Marvel. Why Peter? Why?
Anisa: Yeaaaah, the whole schtick of how Fury and Maria Hill apparently can’t find a single grown Avenger to handle things was very weak. Fury scolding Peter for not being ready after Venice was particularly rich, considering he was the one who dragged a reluctant Peter into this mess.
Paroma: I was so confused about Fury’s sudden loss of patience and tact. He was behaving completely out of character. The post credit scene explained it. But that just made me realise how these “extra” scenes are no longer optional bonuses you get to see as a reward for sitting through credits. They are integral to tying loose ends of the main story now.
Anisa: Okay, so, I just now watched that second scene, and I don’t think I’m unreasonable in thinking that should have been in the actual film.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Paroma: What did you think of Mysterio? I didn’t find Jake Gyllenhaal particularly compelling, but I do like how Spider-Man villains always have relatable, down-to-earth motives behind their grand villainy.
Anisa: It was so totally obvious that he was a villain… that at first I thought there was no way he could actually be the villain. But nope! Exactly as it seemed, which was kind of… eh. But I think it worked well thematically in the context of what the movie was trying to say about fake news, alternative facts, and the unstable and frankly alarming state of “information” right now.
Paroma: The ‘people will believe anything right now’ angle was pretty smart, because of course there are people who would try to take advantage of the insanity happening in the past decade or so. Though what Mysterio was planning on doing if some of the grown up Avengers actually turned up is what I can’t stop wondering. And man, if Natasha was still alive, there’s no way he could have pulled this stunt off for so long!
Speaking of which, that high school ‘in memoriam’ video of our fallen heroes was such a neat way to start the movie. And the immediately segue into a conversation about the confusion with age, now that students from five years ago are back and redoing their year. Also, apparently some people had physical developments while they were gone. Like, Happy has a beard now, and Brad is buff. They were really clever in the way they fed us information. Except for that one scene with Mysterio, there was no exposition fairy visiting.
Anisa: Also, can we talk about Peter’s recurring hijabi classmate? Girl is played by Zoha Rahman and her only speaking line is when she calls out Peter for punching Flash, but I don’t care. Just seeing her being a real, normal teenage girl, taking selfies with her friends on a school trip and everyone treating her like a regular human, was so soothing to my heart. It made me really happy.
Paroma: Yeah, she stood out to me too. Just cause how normal her existence in the class was. She just was. And then on to the next fight scene. Though more lines would have been nice, this was great too.
Anisa: Now that we have a dearth of Avengers in the MCU, you can make it up to us with a Ms. Marvel movie, Kevin.
Paroma: Which he’s already promised us in the next phase. One final question. What did you think of the reveal in the mid credit scene? It blew my mind. I hated and loved it at the same time. The possibilities are so scary and so many. I just want to watch Peter being smart and sincere and hyper as he balances his identities and his life. I don’t want him to go through what I’m afraid comes next.
Anisa: I know, poor baby’s already still reeling from the various universe-altering events he’s just been through. But this movie was the reality settling in after the excitement of first becoming a superhero, sort of like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 2. In Homecoming we got him revelling in putting on the suit, while here he struggles with always having to wear the suit, even when he wants to be just Peter. Our heart hurts for him, but it’s an interesting next step in his evolution to finally become the “menace” that J. Jonah Jameson was always harping about, with the added layers that everyone suddenly knows who is, and he’s a fugitive from the law.
It’s a lot for the next movie to deal with, but also a nice homage to the end of the first Iron Man.