After the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man’s friendly neighborhood extends well beyond the five boroughs. Once you’ve stood against the armies of Thanos, purse-snatchers and Vultures seem small-time. Much of Spider-Man: Far From Home revolves around the wall-crawler’s new status quo and the terror that such a new dynamic within the Marvel Cinematic Universe instills in our hero. Deny it all you want, Peter Parker (Tom Holland), but “Bitch, you’ve been to space.”
The kid does not want to face the death of Tony Stark or his time of non-existence between movies. He deserves a break. He’s earned a vacation from cosmic horror and even the petty crime-fighting. When a class trip offers freedom from his worries as well as an opportunity to pursue a little romance with MJ (Zendaya), Peter throws himself into his teen spirit, ignoring the great responsibility that burns in his DNA. As is the hallmark of any great Spider-Man story, once contentment begins to creep into Peter’s life, a great evil arrives to knock him on his ass.
The world is on the brink of obliteration. Elemental creatures, representing Earth, Water, and Fire, have seeped through a dimensional tear caused by the Gauntlet snap and are in the process of doing to our world what they did to theirs. Hot on their heels is Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a big brain scientist like Tony Stark who used his smarts to construct a fish-bowled battle armor but failed to save his family from death. Partnering with the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D., Beck hopes to spare our Earth his pain. Dubbed Mysterio by Peter’s classmates and their poor understanding of the Italian language, Beck takes the spotlight once held by Iron Man.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) likes the cut of his gib but wants one of his own Avengers in on the action. The usual suspects are apparently off-world or busy, meaning Spider-Man is required to step up his game. Peter’s high school Eurotrip gets hijacked, and he’s forced back into the Spidey side-hustle while his classmates attempt to get cultured. Face-to-face with Beck, Peter believes the multiverse dude might fill the void left by Tony Stark. He’s willing to partner with Beck but only long enough to save the world so he can return to awkwardly flirting with MJ.
↓Spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home↓
After Beck and Peter fend off the Fire Elemental in Prague, the two escape into a local pub to share a drink and a word. Peter is struggling. The great responsibility of his great power is crushing. He desperately needs a respite from the superhero lifestyle, and he wants Beck to ease his burden. Beck claims to understand. He asks Peter what he wants most in life. Peter only desires to finish the school trip with his friends and attempt a genuine human connection with MJ without some monster-of-the-week getting in their way.
Beck says that’s not unreasonable. Go be with the girl; he can handle the bad guys for now. Unburdened, Peter assigns access to Tony Stark’s latest artificial intelligence avatar E.D.I.T.H. (Even Dead I’m The Hero) through a pair of Stark Industries glasses bequeathed to him after the funeral. The second Peter bounds out of the pub, Beck unfurls a shark’s grin, and their location and the patrons within are revealed to be holographically enhanced. Witness the sons and daughters of Tony Stark’s ego, a collection of wretched geeky weasels who felt slighted by the fame garnered by Iron Man while they labored in the trenches. In creating the multiverse threat and the Mysterio persona using the B.A.R.F. technology last seen in Captain America: Civil War, Beck, and his disgraced Stark Industries cronies hope to terrorize their way into the hearts of a fearful populace.
Peter enjoys about 10 minutes of ordinary teen romance with MJ before she admits that she’s known his secret identity all along and that she retrieved some odd tech while Peter fended off the Fire elemental. Her sleuthing uncovers the nefarious nature of Mysterio and Peter reenters his panic state as he realizes the power he’s just granted Beck by handing over E.D.I.T.H. Peter’s first confrontation with Mysterio ends horribly as the doubt clouding his mind also interferes with his Spider-Sense (aka “the Peter Tingle”).
With no one else to turn to, Peter calls upon Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Stark’s BFF tells Peter that he has to stop worrying about being the next Iron Man. No one can replace Tony. Peter can only be the best Peter. Stark saw great potential in Spider-Man. He should put his faith in that belief and go kick Beck the pretender’s ass. Happy gives Peter access to a machine designed specifically to weave new rad Spidey suits. Peter gets to work rocking out to AC/DC. Or is that Led Zeppelin? No, definitely AC/DC. Proud Papa moment for Happy.
Reenergized with newfound confidence of self as well as a winged Spidey suit, Peter swings into London to unmask the duplicitous Beck and friends. While Mysterio masquerades against a Tempest Elemental causing genuine damage thanks to his control over a hidden Stark drone armada, the real Quentin Beck hides in holographic shadow. Peter penetrates the illusion with his Tingle and delivers a serious beatdown on the bad guy dweeb. Fatally wounded by one of his drones, Beck appears to perish.
However, during the mid-credits sequence, we discover that Beck has one last card left up his sleeve. Peter gives MJ a swing through the skyscrapers of New York City, and she does not respond well to the vertigo. Peter doesn’t have time to apologize because a Madison Square Garden jumbotron blares the screaming face of J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons). The DailyBugle.net publisher leaks secret footage recording the last moments of Quentin Beck’s life. In this version of the truth, we see Spider-Man responsible for Beck’s murder, but not before Beck divulges Spidey’s true identity to the rest of the world. Peter grabs his head, “Oh fu-”
Quentin Beck’s tale of lava monsters and multiverses may have amounted to nothing more than a hill of b.s., but the return of J.K. Simmons as J.J.J could indicate multiple planes of realities none-the-less. Remakes and reboots are old news at this point. A cast of actors gets their crack at a batch of characters, and when we deem their interpretation tired, the studio jumps in to clean the slate. Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films never found a place for the Daily Bugle editor, and a big reason was the fear that the public would not accept any other actor in the role. Simmons as J.J.J. was perfect.
With two solo adventures under his belt and three Avengers side appearances, Tom Holland’s placement in the MCU is secured. If Peter Parker is to grow in this universe, he will need to reach into the expected areas if only to subvert them. The Daily Bugle is essential to the tapestry of Spider-Man. J. Jonah Jameson is essential to the tapestry of Spider-Man. Kevin Feige ultimately agrees with the fear that kept the character out of Webb’s movies. In ways that not even Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield could achieve, Simmons is essential to the tapestry of Spider-Man.
Based on this brief glimpse of the MCU J.J.J., we see that his appearance is altered slightly from that of the one in the Sam Raimi films. The mustache is there, sure, but the haircut is more aligned with Simmons’ regular ‘do. And The Daily Bugle is not a newspaper, but an online outlet. This new J.J.J. is not the one we know. We can choose to dismiss this as simply validation of Simmons’ perfection, or we can believe in the multiverse mumbo jumbo of Quentin Beck.
Not content with only a single set of universe-shattering revelations, there’s another, final, post-credits sequence at the end of Far From Home. This one reveals that Nick Fury is one of those previously aforementioned off-world Avengers. Neither the Fury nor the Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) that Peter has been chumming around with on Earth is the actual Fury and Hill. Instead, Captain Marvel Skrull buddies Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and Soren (Sharon Blynn) are filling their roles while Fury leads a top secret mission in space.
The last time we saw the Skrulls was during the climax of Captain Marvel. The shapeshifters were a species without a home, and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) made her mission her own, taking them deep into the heart of the cosmos to claim some land. A lot could have changed in the 25 years between that film and Far From Home, but at some point, it became essential for Fury to operate clandestinely in space. Since Fury aided Talos’ people back in the ’90s, Talso returns the favor today. His Fury is not perfect, but it got the job done. As to what Fury’s star trek is all about, stay tuned to Phase Four (*cough* The Eternals *cough*).
By the end of Far From Home, Peter Parker has once again reconciled with his Uncle Ben’s mantra of “With Great Power Comes Responsibility.” While we’ve never seen Ben on screen during this iteration of the franchise, his existence is acknowledged on Peter’s Eurotrip luggage and, more importantly, in Peter’s desire to escape from his gifts while ultimately rising to them. Peter is a teenager. He wants what all teenagers want. To be left alone to live their lives. Adulthood occurs when the teenager recognizes the fallacy of normalcy.
For Spider-Man, and for all of us, the hits keep on coming. Don’t run or hide from who you are. Embrace what makes you unique from the pack. Don’t compare your life to others, especially when those others are The Avengers. The Vultures, Thanoses, and Mysterios of this universe will never stop. Life is easier when you rise to their challenge rather than duck for cover.