HEAT VISION

The Risks Taken by 'Spider-Man: Far From Home'

The film strays away from Peter Parker mainstays like New York or the Daily Bugle, but perhaps that was inevitable.

One hidden aspect of the first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home is how it underscores just how risky a proposition the follow-up to Spider-Man: Homecoming is. It also points to the long-term dangers in the series’ current direction in the process.

There’s a certain counterintuitive element in both of the shifts presented in the trailer — that Peter Parker and friends travel to Europe, and that Spider-Man gets recruited by Nick Fury for a mission of International importance — that feel, viewed from certain positions, as if the series has lost track of what makes Spider-Man Spider-Man; New York City is part of the hero’s mythology as much as spider-sense and the Daily Bugle, after all, and Spider-Man is traditionally far more “friendly neighborhood” than “secret-spy-type.” Zigging away from those, especially after Homecoming did such a strong job of setting up the Spider-Man fans know and love, could be seen as a mistake by many.

It may, however, be a necessity. One of the problems with previous cinematic incarnations of Spider-Man has been that the series doesn’t necessarily know where to go next after a successful launch. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) was, for all intents and purposes, a less interesting retread of the first Andrew Garfield movie, while the two Tobey Maguire sequels rise and fall on the strength of their villains, with everything else being revisiting the first movie with lowering levels of interest. (I know a lot of people love 2004's Spider-Man 2, but if you ignore Alfred Molina, there’s not a lot there that’s great.)

The danger of repetition is even greater for the current incarnation of Spider-Man on the big screen, considering part of the appeal of Tom Holland’s wall-crawler is that he is continually placed in circumstances outside his experience and has to rise to the occasion to succeed; Captain America: Civil War (2016) saw him as a costumed hero for the first time, Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) as a solo hero having to save the day and Avengers: Infinity War (2018) as someone dealing with cosmic threats for the first time. (Oh, and dying, too; spoilers.)

Spider-Man: Far From Home, then, had the choice to mix things up once again or risk losing the thread of what this version of the character has going for him that the others haven’t, to this point. In that light, International Spy Spidey doesn’t seem so unlikely — and, in filmmakers’ defense, Marvel’s comic book arm also gave this concept a spin with the 2015 Amazing Spider-Man series, in which Peter Parker was rich enough to own an international corporation and operate worldwide alongside SHIELD, so even Far From Home’s seeming deviations from tradition have comic book standing.

The obvious problem with this overall approach is that there’s only so many ways in which to push Peter Parker in unexpected new directions or give him new challenges without breaking the concept altogether — especially when Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has already used the parallel reality Spider-Men option. By the time Avengers: Endgame is finished, Spider-Man is likely to have literally returned from the dead, not to mention having helped save reality itself, which kind of puts everything else into stark relief. At what point does Spider-Man become too experienced to have the same charm fans expect him to have?

(Of course, if this is merely a lead-in to replacing Holland, who will have appeared in five different movies as Spider-Man with the release of Far From Home, with a live-action Miles Morales, I’m A-OK with that.)

Spider-Man: Far From Home is set to be released July 5.

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