Spoiler alert: Please be advised that this review discusses key plot points of Avengers: Endgame.

Tony Stark looms large in Spider‐Man: Far From Home, both figuratively and literally. He peers at us from murals painted in his honor on the side of buildings. He grin‐smirks at us on countless memorials across the world. And his intentions for (and faith in) his mentee Peter Parker (Tom Holland) hang over the teenager like a darkening cloud. The soul of the Avengers superhero squad, who sacrificed himself to defeat Thanos at the end of Avengers: Endgame, had of course planned ahead and left a note (plus some sweet tech) for Peter Parker/Spider‐ Man, who he expected to take over his leadership torch.

But much like Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow, Peter Parker doesn’t want it. He doesn’t want to be the new king. He just wants his life to go back to normal so that he can take part in his high school trip to Europe and perhaps finally get a little closer to his equally awkward crush, MJ (Zendaya). He’s avoiding Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) calls, and even leaves his Spidey suit out of his luggage — though a wise Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) puts it back in.

The first act of the film, from Spider‐Man: Homecoming’s returning director Jon Watts, is the stuff the best summer movies are made of. There is no way you won’t have a smile on your face while watching. It provides precisely the kind of levity needed after the heart‐wrenching and emotional Endgame, and focuses on Peter and his friends’ social dramas, as well as some hilarious bits on unforeseen issues caused by The Snap (or, as the characters call it, “The Blip”). There is also a sweet subplot for Stark’s former driver/bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau) that I absolutely adored.

But unfortunately, just because Thanos was defeated doesn’t mean that all is well in the world. Gigantic interdimensional monsters, known as elementals, have been popping up on our planet, and one happens to attack Venice just after Peter’s class arrives. That’s when Peter learns that a superhero dubbed “Mysterio” (Jake Gyllenhaal), who hails from elsewhere in the Multiverse, has been helping to battle the elementals and is up for banding together with Spider‐Man to form a new superhero group.

In Mysterio (whose real name is Quentin Beck), Parker finds hope. Hope that there might be someone else better equipped to take over Stark’s reins. Hope that there’s someone else to do the heavy lifting. Hope that maybe Peter still has a chance to be a normal high school kid. Gyllenhaal was a great choice to portray the kind of father figure who might actually be a worthy successor to Stark.

I can’t say much about what happens in the second half of the film, except that the teenage hi-jinks continue and are the highlight of the movie. In addition to stellar performances from Holland and Zendaya, Jacob Batalon as Peter’s BFF Ned and Angourie Rice as their classmate Betty bring the LOLs every time they’re on screen. But the overall plot turns darker, and at one point I found myself becoming hyper‐conscious of the fact that Far From Home was the only Marvel movie aside from Black Panther that caused current, real‐world issues popped into my head. This was driven home further by the end credits scene, where a familiar face from that other Spider‐Man trilogy makes an appearance.

However, those more serious beats didn’t bring the movie down. Far From Home serves as both a refreshing palate cleanser after Endgame, and a fun, fast‐paced set‐up for what still lies ahead for Peter Parker and Spider‐Man.

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