It’s hard to believe there have been eight Spider-Man movies; the first one “Spider-Man” starring Tobey Maguire came out post-9/11 in 2002. In only seventeen years we got seven others and if you knew how much work was required to make these kinds of movies then it’s nothing short of shocking.
Tom Holland took over the Spider-Man role from Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) only a few short years ago and has already appeared as the spandex-wearing teenager five times; “Captain America: Civil War,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame” and finally “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
“Spider-Man: Far From Home,” opened in theaters just before July 4th – it’s a breezy and unpredictable movie with eye-popping visuals but it surprisingly gets political as the Spidey faces off against fake news.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has officially become politically aware. For the most part, the MCU has done a great job of staying out of politics over the years – since “Iron Man” first hit theaters in 2008.
Rarely, if ever, have they commented on the political climate, but that all changed with “Spider-Man: Far From Home.”
This new installment was directed by “Spider-Man: Homecoming” director Jon Watts (“Cop Car”) and written by Chris McKenna (“Community,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”) and Erik Sommers (“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”).
The movie starts off shortly after “Avengers: Endgame” takes place when the living Avengers use the quantum realm in order to go back in time and save half of the universe’s species after Thanos snapped his fingers. It ends with the passing of Tony Stark and the metaphorical passing of the torch to the newest Avengers.
But the sixteen-year-old Peter Parker (Holland) needs a break from being Spider-Man and is ecstatic about going on a European-tour school trip where he plans to confess his love for MJ (Zendaya); in fact, Parker doesn’t even bring his suit with him. Although it turns out his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) stealthily packs it for him.
But things get complicated in Italy when a new superhero emerges, Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) – working with SHIELD and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to fight off a giant water monster and save the day.
But while everyone loves this new superhero, Mysterio is not who he says he is.
It turns out he’s the villain. Mysterio is both the big water monster and the hero that saves the day at the same time – he wants to create the illusion that he’s only the hero to build up his status and retrieve a pair of glasses that Tony Stark left for Parker.
As the film’s villain, Mysterio, explains to Spider-Man, he capitalizes on people’s willingness to “believe anything these days.” He also tries to trap Spider-Man in holographic illusions that spin one into the other, with no apparent end. The “dark web” jokes kind of just write themselves.
The result is a film that suggests you can’t always believe what you see, and that powerful people, or those who want to be powerful, will always manipulate the truth to their advantage.
This is the overall theme and it is definitely a commentary, even criticism, of the fake news epidemic sweeping the world right now.
It even features a bombastic over-the-top conservative commentator like Bill O’Reilly. That’s right; the writers went the other way with it and made the symbol of fake news an alt-right type.
Finally, in the end, the entire world now knows the identity of Spider-Man as Peter Parker.
Although using Mysterio as the plot device to commentate on the fake news epidemic was well done, they took it too far by actually leaning one way or the other instead of a universal notion about the toxicity of fake news.
All in all, it was a solid installment to the franchise and it might be the third best Spider-Man outside of “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” or “Spider-Man 2.”