Spider-Man: Far From Home
Directed by Jon Watts. Screenplay by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (from the comics of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko). Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders. Length 129 minutes. Rotten Tomatoes 90%
Peter Parker, like everyone else in the great battle of the Avengers against Thanos, tries to find a normal life while mourning the loss of mentor Tony Stark. Nick Fury needs him for a new mission, but Peter prefers to leave on a school trip to Europe, where he hopes to finally tell his beautiful classmate MJ how he feels about her. That was a really dumb move. Superheroes never take vacations. In responding to a new crisis Peter pals up with a new Marvel superhero, Mysterio …
Spiderman's new adventure comes a few months after the pinnacle of Phase 3 of the Marvel Universe, Avengers: Endgame. Far from Home does not ignore this back story, but exploits it to create a tale that successfully mixes adolescent comedy and drama. It even manages to say something interesting about us – that we are so hungry for truth that we will gobble up appealing falsehoods.
Young Peter Parker is a loner who survived a fight that brought a brigade of superheroes into the fray and saw many of them make the ultimate sacrifice. Peter is mourning the death of Ironman Tony Stark.
In the comic book tradition, Spiderman / Peter Parker was defined by his relationship with his Uncle Ben, whose death, unintentionally caused by Peter’s negligence, is the origin of his mission (“With great power comes great responsibility!“). Although Uncle Ben does not disappear from the mythology (Peter goes on vacation carrying his old suitcase), his role here is assumed by Tony Stark. Peter,it turns out, is in line to succeed him. He has a pair of AI-equipped glasses that allow him to control all the Stark Industries' products, even the military gear. But lacking self-confidence, he hands them over to Mysterio, his new superhero buddy.
Far from Home is a search for a mentor, someone who can teach a boy how to become a man. But it is also a story about a teen with a Peter Pan complex, a junior superhero who wants to remain footloose and fancy-free, even though adult responsibilities await him. The temptation is to offload the mantle of power onto someone older and more qualified. But the right thing to do is to try, even if you make mistakes — adults are not infallible and can seriously mess things up.
This is where Spiderman succeeds. It has something interesting to say about the contradictions of today's world. We’re always looking for heroes but we are ready to dump them at the first opportunity. And the powers of Mysterio add a subtle commentary about the fake news and illusions.
This is a difficult world to navigate, where technology and even “spidey-sense” are not enough to choose the right path. A moral compass is needed that can only be found in in what our heart knows to be right and true.
Laura Cotta Ramosino works for Cattleya, an Italian production company, as a creative producer and story editor for several television shows. She is also a regular contributor to the website Sentieri del cinema and Scegliere un film, an annual collection of film reviews.