I watched Spider-Man: Far From Home this past weekend. Great movie, you should go out of your way to watch it. And not just because you’re 22 movies into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and might as well finish the cycle.
But before I really get into it, SPOILER WARNING in case you haven’t seen the movie and I ruin your life.
How Peter Parker follows the legacy of the man who discovered and pushed him to become more than just a neighborhood hero serves as the movie’s biggest subplot. Tony Stark’s death from Avengers: Endgame resides as a cloud over the final installment of Marvel’s Phase Three. So much so that Mysterio uses that cloud against Peter. It obviously (and understandably) affects the kid who looked to Stark as a father-figure.
But there’s another subplot that I feel has just as much a lasting effect on what Peter does moving forward. The war with Thanos showed Peter how his battles can affect the lives of others. He saw firsthand just how vulnerable and fragile life truly is. Before that, while the Vulture threatened Peter’s family, their fight was still a contained one that didn’t have to put others at risk.
Far from Home continues the backdrop of risk that Infinity War and Endgame presented. With MJ, Aunt May, and Ned knowing who Peter is (and even assisting him against Mysterio), they are at risk of being hurt and used against Peter.
Mysterio is a twisted motherfucker, no doubt. But he did speak some truth to Peter when discussing how one of the tough parts of what they do is that sometimes people get hurt. Sometimes, people close to you will die. A constant mantra of masked heroes is that they don’t conceal their identities for their protection. They do so for everyone else’s.
We do the same thing, albeit in a more metaphorical way. I think it’s metaphorical. I don’t actually know what that word means. But what I’m saying is that we hide parts of our self and history because we feel it would be the best for the people around us. That’s not always the reality. I use my history of disappointing and underappreciating people to excuse my isolation and pushing others away. But in the case of someone like, I dunno–Spiderman!, the shit is real.
This reality has to change and alter Spiderman as a hero. With people knowing who Spiderman really is (as his identity was broadcast in the mid-credit scenes), everyone close to him can fall in the line of fire. Peter is still a teenager just trying to enjoy and experience life. He wants to go on vacations. He’s trying to go on dates. But how willing can one be to grow close to others while knowing that doing so puts others at risk?
That’s not the kind of thought and decision someone is expected to make soon after hitting puberty.
Especially so after knowing half the population was dusted and watching Stark sacrifice his life to bring everyone back. Peter witnessed death. He knows what it looks and feels like. I saw my father pass away and it still finds moments to haunt me. It’s hard to bear having that visual and knowing it could easily be your family, your best friend, or the girl you like (which, for a teenager is like having a fiance).
So much of our world opened up after Tony Stark revealed himself as Iron Man. And be it directly or indirectly, it led to this strange universe in 2023. Now the more micro-world Spiderman lives in has opened as well. Stark was driven to desperation to protect the planet from any and all threats. What will it do to Peter?