The first few minutes of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” pique the warm fuzzies for characters you’ve been watching for a dozen-plus films. The latest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe picks up where spring’s “Avengers: Endgame” left off. And while that could easily detract from Spidey himself, director Jon Watts is quick to rein it in.
The dust settles in Queens after a five-year Blip. Post-battles and some losses, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is hellbent on vacationing across the Atlantic with classmates. So, he dodges calls from S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
Fury’s calling because others Avengers are MIA, and parts of Europe are under attack by nature monsters Elementals. Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) jets in from an alternate reality with experience battling the beasts.
Peter is pushed to weigh courage in battle and in his love life as his interest grows for MJ.
Director Jon Watts and writers Chris McKennna and Erik Sommers team up again on this followup to 2017’s “Homecoming,” and there are so many reasons to love this Spidey thread.
With its flavor, humor and upbeat music — by Buzzcocks, Mina, The Specials — this series is on par with last year’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” for most fun and inclusive. More hero movies are shifting and opening — “Black Panther,” “Shazam!” — and “Far From Home” is no different with a multiracial cast and dots of contemporary woke-ness.
You see much of the latter in MJ played by Disney alum/actor/dancer/model Zendaya (“The Greatest Showman”). These filmmakers spun something new and wonderful with this character’s sardonic wit, intelligence and deadpan execution. Think MTV’s “Daria.”
MJ hangs out around detention so she can capture human suffering in art. She likes the Black Dahlia flower because it’s linked to the famous unsolved murder. She’s confident and human.
Happy, Ned and Betty (Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice) share some fears during an intense moment. With mixed feelings, MJ says she’s obsessed with being honest, even if it hurts others. Hers is a balanced and admirable role model.
British actor Tom Holland seems the most relatable in the former-Spider-Man trifecta of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield. Holland is powerful, polite, human — strong, and not quite trusting himself yet.
And this script plays with that a bit, as one character states, “It’s easy to fool people when they’re already fooling themselves.” Holland emotes how lack of courage invades everything and opens him up to the poison of others.
More superhero movies like “The Avengers” and even shows like “Stranger Things” approach superhero-dom differently. In the past, so much was on the shoulders of one, and MCU built a franchise on “You can’t do it alone.”
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” reinforces that the responsibility isn’t on one, even if he has superpowers, and that we mortals aren’t as helpless as we seem. Maybe we don’t need to wait to be saved and can do some saving ourselves. With help.
The MCU connections and the filmmakers' thoughtfulness make this Spider-Man thread feel more lovable, attractive and relevant. This reviewer will follow this group wherever they go.
Starring: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Jake Gyllenhaal
Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, some language and brief suggestive comments
Now showing: Duluth 10, Lakes 10 and Premiere, West Theater