WARNING: Major Spoilers ahead for Spider-Man: Far From Home
I had mixed feelings about Spider-Man: Far From Home the whole time I was watching it. That ambivalence has since only grown.
As if the slip-shod script’s first draft vibes weren’t bad enough (in which the dramatic fulcrum is Peter Parker’s complete naivete, a rank stupidity that leads him to hand over Stark’s tech-glasses to Mysterio), it all became increasingly problematic as it went along. Everything and everyone in this movie has been extremely dumbed down.
Many aspects don’t hold up under the most cursory intellectual scrutiny (not the least of which are convenient contrivances and oblivious schoolteachers, upon which so many complications and twists rely), but especially the ending where it matters most.
I’m in the minority here, I know.
The vast horde of Film Twitter not only gushes about this movie in geek-tastic extremes, but they seem to think that the first mid-credits bonus scene is particularly uh-maaazing. Sure, I’ll grant that it is conceptually jaw-dropping given what it portends for the future of the franchise, but logically it’s a disaster (which leaves the franchise’s future wobbling on a very flimsy premise).
I’ll break that all down in a minute, but first there’s the need to address the main plot’s ludicrous denouement.
One key aspect of the finale (and the wake of it specifically) is completely disjointed from real world cause-and-effect. Normally, the worst complaint for this kind of lapse in logic would be lazy filmmaking. Unfortunately, that laziness ends up having direct implications on the plausibility of the first bonus scene and the veracity of what that scene is trying to set up for the next movie(s).
As with nearly all MCU entries, Far From Home crescendos in a CGI blitz of visual effects mayhem and destruction, taking place rather conspicuously in the middle of a major European city. It’s all banal and mind-numbing, but so be it. However, given the location of this Spidey / Mysterio showdown, it’s going to attract attention.
Except that it doesn’t.
After Spidey saves the day, Marvel apparently needed to tag his heroics and the burgeoning romance between Parker and MJ with a post-fight reunion where they could consumate their feelings with sentiments and a kiss. This happens in the very epicenter of where the whole battle had been waged…and it’s a completely private moment.
As Peter demasks and MJ runs to him, no one is around; not the public masses whose lives were endangered just moments earlier, not a legion of military and local first responders who obviously would’ve descended onto the scene, or even the media that would’ve swarmed to such an explosive spectacle. For as far as the eye can see, Peter and MJ are completely alone on that bridge so that, what, the film can give them their private romantic moment for as long as they need to have it? Okay.
Listen, if that level of inept dramatic license were the scene’s worst sin, I could just roll my eyes and move on. But it’s not.
Jump cut to the mid-credits bonus scene, the first of two. The one where Peter Parker gets outed as Spider-Man by none other than J. Jonah Jameson. Correction: J. K. Simmons’ J. Jonah Jameson, the same iteration of the Daily Bulge newspaper chief (presumably) from the original Tobey Maguire trilogy. (Okay, even in all of this stupidity, that’s pretty cool.) The multi-verse implications are fascinating but, for the purposes of this piece, they’re also irrelevant. What isn’t is who Jameson has become and the credibility the whole franchise is apparently attributing to him.
Here, Jameson isn’t a newspaper editor; he’s a fringe alt-media provocateur running his own DailyBugle.net “news” platform. It’s a blatant, intentional rip-off of InfoWars and its host Alex Jones, the biggest (and occasionally most dangerous) nutjob in media today, a far-right conspiracy theorist that no one takes seriously. As a news source, Alex Jones is instantly untrustworthy.
Jameson is modeled after him, yet Spider-Man’s now-perilous future entirely hinges upon his sole credibility. The issue at stake isn’t that Jameson outed Parker as Spider-Man but, per a manipulated video that Jameson received from Mysterio, he convinces the entire world that Mysterio is a martyred hero and that Spider-Man is the real arch villain.
Now just imagine if this was happening in our world and Alex Jones had this “scoop.” Who would believe it? No one. Sure, Parker’s secret identity would be gone, but his villainy would be met with instant skepticism in the extreme. The source literally couldn’t be trusted, especially in a world already triggered by Fake News.
Furthermore, reliable sources like S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers – you know, the people who just saved the entire universe from Thanos – could easily dispel this lie with the truth and facts at their disposal.
Further still, a S.H.I.E.L.D. vouch shouldn’t even be necessary if the actual finale didn’t have the glaring problem that I previously described in detail. In a completely normal situation – where the fallout to that battle would’ve been thousands of eyewitnesses plus local, federal, and international authorities descending onto the site to gather facts, evidence, information and clarity for everything that had just happened – there wouldn’t even be a basis for Mysterio’s and Jameson’s deception.
And yet here we are. Marvel has given us a game-changing shocker that’s completely reliant on an unreliable source and it’s only possible because of an entirely implausible predicate in the finale. The levels of stupid that this brainless one-two punch is asking us, the viewers, to be are so monumental that I’ll actually be anticipating how Marvel plans to validate and sustain its “Spidey Is The World’s Most Wanted Criminal” lie on a global scale when it’s so easily explained away.
Then for good measure, the second and final end-credit scene just doubles down on the nonsense that the entire MCU is about to embrace.
In it, the “Nick Fury” and “Maria Hill” that we’ve seen throughout the entire Far From Home adventure are exposed to have been Skrulls named Talos and Soren (first introduced in Captain Marvel). They had disguised themselves as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top duo via their alien morphing powers, and had done so at Fury’s request. He, we come to see, has been out in the galaxy somewhere making plans with Skrull Nation.
This, after an entire movie in which every surprisng turn relied on Mysterio’s technology cons.
So basically, in the span of the two most recent non-Avengers movies that were designed to set up the post-Avengers MCU, Marvel has completely transformed its cinematic universe to be driven primarily by deepfake fake-outs. This kind of trickery isn’t smart or intelligent; it’s the cheapest form of a gotcha cheat, and it’s already obnoxious.
Yet that’s where the MCU is headed, a continuing saga in which tech-based and alien shape-shifting deceptions as the complete basis for dramatic twists and shocking reveals.