MCU–a world populated by gods, sorcerers, aliens, etc.–doubles as an on-the-nose

In its final moments, Spider-Man: Far From Home muses that people will believe anything. This fairly blatant observation of the not-too-distant future setting of the MCU–a world populated by gods, sorcerers, aliens, etc.–doubles as an on-the-nose critique of our post-truth world. Desensitization and fatigue lend us to a general acceptance of the insane because it’s the new normal. It’s not an entirely uninteresting thesis for a tights and spandex film, if it weren’t also a flimsy excuse for director Jon Watts (along with scribes Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers) to paper over some of Far From Home’s most baffling character decisions. However, not unlike Homecoming, the electricity of this Spider-Sequel’s cast thankfully provides enough smoke and mirrors to occasionally ignore the kinks behind the curtain.

In theory, a solo outing should be a breath of fresh air, but where Homecoming felt a little leaner in scope post-Civil War, Far From Home is forced to reckon with the universe-shattering events of Endgame. It tightens its gaze enough to still feel like a Spider-Man film, but the loose ends of Phase 3 prove cumbersome, and it’s forced to contort several plot threads into a clumsy narrative. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker juggles not only a burgeoning crush on MJ (Zendaya), but also a world devoid of Avengers, and Happy Hogan’s (Jon Favreau) summer tryst with his aunt (Marisa Tomei). That’s all on top of Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) insistence that Peter step up to the plate alongside newcomer Quentin “Mysterio” Beck (the film’s MVP, Jake Gyllenhaal) to battle creatures called Elementals (think of the Titans from Disney’s Hercules). Spidey’s Nick Fury-sanctioned derring-do against the Elementals is the film at its most clunky, leading certain characters to make mind-boggling mistakes out of sheer (and frankly, insulting) gullibility.