The first trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home introduces everything you need to know about the second solo Peter Parker film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But, as is only appropriate for a movie featuring a high-tech con man, that doesn’t mean that it necessarily does so honestly.
A brief glimpse of the trailer suggests that the biggest threat to Peter’s (Tom Holland) European vacation is the Elementals, a group of minor monsters from Marvel comic book history, who also happen to resemble other Marvel characters with more of a history with Spider-Man (Spidey’s dealt with Hydro-Man, Sandman and the Human Torch for decades in the comic books; while the last of those is unlikely to show up in Far From Home, it’s not impossible that the cinematic Elementals will contain elements — no pun intended — of the other characters). But Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio also makes his debut, which should be taken as a sign that all is not as it seems.
In Marvel comic book lore, Mysterio (who debuted in 1964’s The Amazing Spider-Man No. 14, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko) is a villain whose entire gimmick is misdirection; he’s a former special-effects expert and stunt man who turns his skills to crime, coming up with greater and greater illusions to trick Spider-Man — and the reader — into believing things that can’t possibly be true, including the death of Peter’s Aunt May and his own demise, on more than one occasion. (Less impressive tricks involve simple real estate scams and using hypnosis to convince Spider-Man that he was only six inches tall, but we don’t talk about those as much.)
The Far From Home teaser lets the audience see various Elementals in action, but curiously enough, only one character is shown interacting with them in any truly appreciable manner — and it’s Mysterio. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shoots at one and Peter is apparently blasted by a wave by another, but both of those could be explained away as illusions with well-placed props. Only Mysterio is shown to interact with one of the creatures while in humanoid form, which could be an indicator that the Elementals aren’t actually real at all — instead, they’re massive illusions on behalf of Mysterio as part of as-yet-unknown scheme.
While the details of the scheme aren’t likely to be known until the pic’s release, certain parts are easy to guess at; faking the existence of the Elementals allows Mysterio to not only commit crimes unsuspected because of the more obvious distractions and alternate suspects, but it allows him to pose as a hero that fights with the Elementals in the process — a disguise gimmick that powered the first year of Marvel comic book The Thunderbolts back in 1997, while also providing a shout-out to Mysterio’s debut 50-plus years ago, in which he framed Spider-Man for his crimes.
Such a deception not only allows the audience to be as thrown off the scent as the movie’s hero, but it also gives Far From Home the opportunity to stay as grounded as Spider-Man: Homecoming was, in terms of narrative scale, especially after the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Sure, we know that Peter Parker can deal with really big stuff, but don’t his stories work better when he’s dealing with things on a human level rather than giant water and sand monsters…?
Of course, it’s possible that Mysterio is on the level after all, and Spider-Man really is going to have to face off against threats that personify the basic elements. In a world that contains the Avengers, Doctor Strange and countless more powerful heroes, however, where’s the fun in that?
Spider-Man: Far From Home is set to be released July 5.