The theatrical double-dip is a brazen but confident assault on fandom’s wallet. Not all properties could sustain such greed, but for proven billion-dollar earners like Star Wars and The Avengers, the gluttony on behalf of the consumer is just as insatiable as that of the salivating studio. It’s not blood from a stone but blood from an already drained, upturned cow that can still provide the necessary driblets for black pudding. Physical media is as dead as Dillinger, and Director’s Cuts, Reduxes, and Final Cuts can no longer wait for home viewing. For the Disney titans, they give you four weeks, let you stew in their well-simmered IP, and then sprinkle out some additional seasoning a few weeks later. We should be full, but it smells good, and seconds or thirds never killed anyone.
The Spider-Man: Far From Home Extended Cut is an especially intriguing meal given recent aggressive negotiations between partners Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures Releasing. They’ve declined the Judgment of Solomon. Tom Holland‘s time as Spider-Man may not be over, but Peter Parker’s appearance within the Marvel Cinematic Universe appears unlikely. As a fan of the theatrical cut, as well as the wall-crawler’s four other MCU sightings, I want to witness his evolution alongside Captain Marvel, Rocket Racoon, and especially Happy Hogan. Director Jon Watts and screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers left Parker in a tight spot at the end of their sequel, and it’s difficult to imagine the character’s emotional relief without the assistance of an Avenger.
If you’re turning to this weekend’s Extended Cut to abate your anxiety around Parker’s status amongst Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, then I’m afraid I have some bad news. As advertised, the new runtime stretches just four extra minutes. The majority of the added content involves the fight sequence glimpsed in the second trailer, in which the Iron Spider easily decimates a gang of hooligans dealing drugs out of an Italian restaurant. The benefit of the scene is that it restores some of that Friendly Neighborhood Spidey missing from his European adventures.
Another chunk of those four minutes sees Parker cleverly cutting in line at the Post Office to pick up his passport, scoring an essential mini-toothpaste at Delmar’s Deli, and pawning his vintage Star Wars action figures (not Lobot, though — never ditch Lobot) so that he can purchase the Black Dahlia necklace for MJ (Zendaya). Towards the end of the film, we get an extra clip with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) encouraging his lackeys before their attack on London. There are also several added beats to various shots throughout and a couple of re-edited bits.
Going forward, there will be no battle over which cut is the preferred version. This is not Blade Runner. The extra four minutes do not necessarily feel essential to the plot or the characters, but they don’t feel superfluous either. I’ll take them. Is the movie improved? Sure. If you liked what you got before, you’d like what you get here. I’ve experienced far more egregious double-dips (i.e., Avengers: Endgame bonus content from only months earlier).
Where your Peter Tingle truly tickles is during the final segment of the film. Spider-Man returns to his home turf victorious, snatching up MJ for a little joyride swinging. She’s terrified, and he’s chuffed. As they’re racing past Grand Central Terminal, we catch sight of a large under-construction sign reading, “We are so excited to show you what comes next.” The audience is moments away from the return of J.K. Simmons as the high-tempered Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. The reveal is a bold charge of fan-service, and a massive validation of the actor considering fans and executives simply could not think of a J.J.J. alternative. Peter Parker is outed as Spider-Man and cut-off mid-F-bomb as we’re left to contemplate the new world order of the inevitable third film.
“We are so excited to show you what comes next.” Gulp. Ok. How do we make this work? Spider-Man: Homeless. A third film should pick up immediately in the wake of the second. Don’t give Parker a chance to breathe. Imagine: Kraven the Hunter is already atop a skyrise with a high-powered rifle aimed at Spider-Man’s gut. Bang! A bullet tears through webhead’s belly, MJ screams, the crowd scatters, and Spider-Man tears off for parts unknown. The entire film plays in realtime with Kraven tracking his prey through the city. Parker doesn’t have the luxury of consideration or thought, and whatever help he could call wouldn’t arrive in time to save his hide anyway. Done in such a fashion with Tom Holland bloody and dying for the entire runtime, the audience can’t be bothered with MCU worries.
Spider-Man: Far From Home challenges Peter Parker’s notion that he can be both a teenager and a crimefighter. Skrull Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is right; the kid has to make a decision. J.J.J. outing Parker as Spider-Man will ultimately help him along his path to autonomy. He needs to face the world. He needs his “I Am Iron Man.” He needs to stake his claim on his block. Queens: under the protection of Spider-Man.
Now, when it comes to a fourth film? I dunno. On its face, Spider-Man: Far From Home does not work as a satisfying end to Peter Parker’s time with the MCU. We do not get closure with those crucial supporting players. Removing the concept of The Avengers from his world is a pretty big abuse upon our suspension of disbelief. Severing his ties with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) after they reconciled their grief before plunging into war with Mysterio is downright cruel. Sony’s response to these doubts could easily be “Sorry, not sorry. Push Peter Parker’s time with The Avengers out of your head and enjoy a Venom mashup instead.” The two Toms bashing on each other could be fun, but no matter how great the resulting film, we’ll always have a nagging sense in the base of our neck. Unless…
Liv Octavius (Kathryn Hahn) continues her tinkering on the already frayed fabric of the Spider-Verse. Who cares if she’s animated? Not me. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is easily the most creatively successful iteration of the characters so far, and as absurd as it may sound, a live-action/animated hybrid done properly could clear the table of all these pesky MCU leftovers and establish a delectable spread for us to gorge. Christopher Miller and Phil Lord conjured miracles from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, and Into the Spider-Verse. They’re already under contract at Sony. Toss them the keys to the other Spider-kingdom, allow their team to do their job, and they’ll transform wine from water. Bring back Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield in some capacity and an altar to rival Marvel Studios will rise.
Speculation will rot your brain, and it’s probably best to take the wait-and-see approach. A good movie is a good movie is a good movie. Make one, and all is forgiven. On the other hand, if you’re like me, and you’ll happily slap down another stack of cash for four measly minutes of new footage and spend just as much time reading a fantasy piece like this one, then you can’t help yourself. You love Spider-Man. You love Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, and you love Tom Holland’s Spider-Man making nice with Doctor Strange. We want our corporate overlords to settle their finances so they can continue to double-dip into our pockets in a fair exchange for comic book bliss. Guys, just take our money.