Last week I was ambivalent about running out of topical topics again. Now it’s a very SPOILERY collaboreview of
Spider-Man Mysterio: Far From Home with The Wages of Cinema! How crazy is it that Disney released three Marvel movies in a five month span? (Four, if you count Dark Phoenix.) Releasing this one on a Tuesday for Independence Day is such a power move.
Thanks to the convoluted resolution of Avengers: Endgame, this film takes place in 2023. (You should really see that first, unless you specifically only like solo Spidey stories.) Unlike the current season of Agents of SHIELD, this addresses the Unsnapped using humor! Aunt May’s fundraiser for the homeless is actually to help those displaced by The Snappening (renamed The Blip) being undone. While it’s a genuine ramification for the MCU, it’s also tacky that it distracts from the issue of real world homelessness.
I liked Spider-Man: Homecoming, but I didn’t love it. (Jenny Nicholson explained this more concisely. Odds are you’ve seen that over my blog as media pivots to video from eye-searing green text.) This tones it down somewhat, although Peter’s peers & teachers are still too accommodating to him. They’re amusing but feel like they were grafted on from Disney Channel sitcoms. The exception is MJ, who gets fleshed out from being Daria: The Next Generation. Her blossoming romance with Tom Holland’s Parker is warmly sweet.
The conceit of the movie is Parker’s class is going on an ill-defined “science trip” through Europe. I can accept half the universe simultaneously dying & undying, but such an extravagant high school trip strains credulity. Supposedly this improbable affair was set up by Nick Fury so Spidey could meet Mysterio about stopping “Elementals.” Wouldn’t it be much easier just to kidnap Parker & forge a doctor’s note?
Spidey’s bland stealth suit evokes Spider-Man Noir minus Nic Cage’s voice. It’s more generic than Spider-X-Man, not to be confused with Spider-X. To compensate, he’s dubbed Night Monkey! The costume Peter designs at the end resembles the Superior Spider-Man suit minus Dr. Octopus’s mind controlling his body. Zendaya has thought a lot about how Tom Holland could die in a Spidey suit.
Like Jon Watts’s previous installment, this one changes things up from non-MCU Spidey films with mixed results. Doing new stuff is refreshing, but some aspects they’ve eschewed feel like crucial parts of his mythos. This continues the trend of making Tony Stark literally the most important character in the MCU while Marvel’s flaghip character is auxiliary to him. I don’t mind them having a mentor-student superhero relationship, but I dislike that Stark completely eclipses Uncle Ben. His initials are on Peter’s suitcase, but nothing in the MCU suggests he had any formative impact. Spider-Man still feels like Iron Man Jr. since he’s dependent on Stark for resources & supervillains.
There was confusion about whether Zendaya’s MJ was supposed to be a new iteration of Mary Jane Watson, but apparently Kevin Feige insists Michelle James is a brand new character with the same initials. This reminds me of when Andrew Garfield said he wanted to do Amazing Spider-Man 3 where MJ is played by Michael B. Jordan. (Shailene Woodley’s scenes as Mary Jane in ASM2 were deleted.) So it seems like Spidey can date anyone so long as the have the right initials just like how all of Superman’s love interests (Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris, Lex Luthor) have to be abbreviated LL. (He wouldn’t even give Maxima the time of day!) First Spidey steals Superman’s colors & his sidekick’s occupation, now this! I still don’t get why Zendaya couldn’t just be Mary Jane, unless it’s a loophole for a character trait contract? Michelle’s personality is distinct from Mary Jane’s, so giving her the same initials as if they’re interchangeable feels reductive to both.
It’s wonderful to finally see Mysterio onscreen after being robbed of Bruce Campbell’s final evolution into him. As much as I would’ve liked to have seen him in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4, it would’ve been wasteful to relegate Mysterio to a cameo. Sony’s cancelled Sinister Six movie looked like it would’ve either snubbed him or drastically toned him down. There was a rumor that Mysterio would be in Daredevil’s second season, but it’s for the best he didn’t. I was so worried that movie Mysterio would be deprived of his distinctive dome when he was confirmed, but Ryan Meinerding & Anna Sheppard came through! He’s Exhibit A in in how any silly comic book outfit can work in real life when costume designers put effort into it. (If only Jessica Jones had hired Andy MacDonald to design Hellcat’s suit!) Jake Gyllenhaal wore the Mysterio suit as much as possible, as he should. He’s pro-cape! The lack of bowl cut makes Quentin Beck too handsome!
Peter inherits EDITH (Even Dead, I’m The Hero) super-surveillence sunglasses from Iron Man that control a fleet of satellite-deployed hunter-killer drones but no instructions. (Since he died shortly after discovering the Time Heist worked, he must’ve not updated his will during The Blip.) Classic Tony! Even in death he’s still making dreadfully reckless decisions whilst ostensibly sober. Not only are these drones more versatile than the HYDRA Helicarriers Captain America battled, they’re yet another resource that would’ve come in handy to thwart Thanos’s forces. Peter realizes he shouldn’t have this great power & offers the great responsibility to Mysterio in a scene that sadly isn’t a They Live homage. If he hadn’t conveniently abdicated EDITH, the plot would’ve ground to a complete halt.
The movie really kicks into gear once Mysterio drops his ruse to the audience. I was vindicated! Odds are you also knew this was coming, so give yourself a cookie! It didn’t blow its obvious twist in the marketing, unlike the first Captain Marvel trailer revealing she’s an Earthling. My gripe is that this Quentin Beck is yet another driven to supervillainy by Tony Stark. (It’s implied Q. B. could be an alias.) I would’ve preferred they kept his original occupation as a disgruntled special effects artist. Not only would it be meta, it’s also topical considering how visual effects artists are overlooked even as their efforts are crucial to blockbusters. (The checkered leotard designed by Steve Ditko makes me think of a prototype mocap suit, & movie Mysterio uses motion tracking for holographic illusions.) I did appreciate how this made the throwaway hologram scene in Civil War relevant & brought back the guy that Obadiah Stane famously yelled at. (He has a name, William Ginter Riva!) His posse are mad they’ve been marginalized by Stark, but it doesn’t address they need to be even more anonymous for the hoax to work. He neither kills them nor promises them untold riches to keep silent.
While he’s unfortunately another anti-Stark supervillain, Mysterio is the zenith of the archetype. He’s got the most inherent personality because he didn’t originate as an Iron Man foe. Although the Mysterio persona is a ruse, Beck doesn’t feel embarrassed to be a classic supervillain like Vulture. Gyllenhaal gives a wonderful performance, shifting from avuncular to egomaniacal! His crazy eyes are perfect for a Gary Oldman homage in the finale. He also does delightful interviews.
The best scene in the movie is when Night-Monkey goes to Berlin to warn Fury about Mysterio & gets trapped in a lengthy hologram hallucination. This has Big Scarecrow Energy! Its unrelenting surrealism perfectly showcases why Mysterio is a fantastic supervillain. I don’t quite understand how his holograms work, but I stopped caring well before Mysterio traps Spidey in this helmet that he doffs after transforming it into a snowglobe Keeping this out of the trailers for a surprise was such a wise move!
I thought MCU Spider-Man didn’t have Spidey-Sense, but here they claim his Peter-Tingle is just barely functional. Spidey-Sense is the biggest stumbling block in Mysterio being a credible threat to him in the comics, so omitting it is a wise move. Then without any training to hone this underdeveloped skill, the Peter-Tingle works perfectly in the climax. They don’t even imply it’s subconscious adrenaline response. Previous adaptations did visual & acoustic flourishes to highlight this power, whereas here they don’t so the plot contrivance can be completely unengaging. At least the bit where we see a hologram from the inside looked spiffy.
Mysterio joins Hela & Killmonger in being too compelling to survive their debut movie. Ruining Spidey’s secret identity is a fantastically petty note for his swan song! EDITH says Beck’s corpse is not an illusion, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t fake his own death like he frequently does in the comics. I like Jake’s suggestion that Maggie Gyllenhaal become the next Mysterio though. Does she share the mutant ability to shoot green lasers?
I’d speculated that Nick Fury would actually be the Chameleon, who’d be reenvisioned as an albino Skrull. (That would’ve explained the official image with his eyepatch reversed as Chameleon bungling his disguise by copying a mirror image.) Turns out I was half-right! Fury isn’t Chameleon, but he is Talos filling in for the real deal while he builds
space-SHIELD SWORD for future MCU projects. ( I still don’t understand what Fury’s relationship with world law enforcement is after The Winter Soldier debacle.) So that explains why Fury acts out of character. If the plot needed Fury to be that uncharacteristically gullible, however, it seems like it would’ve been simpler to just not include him.
This is the fifth valid Spider-Man movie because J. Jonah Jameson appears in a mid-credits stinger! I’m ecstatic they got J. K. Simmons to reprise his role! Weirdly they didn’t get Triple J’s iconic hair correct this time. He’s reporting on Mysterio leaking Spidey’s secret identity from a Manhattan billboard because this is set in a dystopian future where those have speakers. This scene kiboshes the possibility of Peter Parker secretly selling selfies to The Daily Bugle though. That’s such a cornerstone of Spidey’s existence!
Mysterio’s video makes it sound like Spidey’s a crazed terrorist. Did Talos as Fury just forget to tell the world it was vice versa? EDITH ought to be able to find some exonerating evidence, so I’ll be very annoyed if part three is Parker on the run from the law. I’m still looking forward, however, to Spidey finally dealing with negativity next installment. I’m oddly interested in how this affects Peter’s relationship to Flash Thompson, whose wealth & cold family almost makes him a replacement Harry Osborn. Let’s see the Sinister Six next. They’ve got to pay off that Scorpion foreshadowing. The most important Reddit thread is this.
This is an improvement over Homecoming. Chris Mckenna’s & Erik Sommers’s script doesn’t make much sense when scrutinized, but that’s besides the point in this instance. Mysterio finally made it to the silver screen! It was worth the wait. Alas! Now I have nothing to look forward to. (I guess I want to see how Legion ends.)
Mysterio’s made it onto Doritos bags; unfortunately they’re Cool Ranch. They should’ve made Lime or All Dressed Doritos just for him. I scored the last box of limited edition
Dark Berry Mysterio soda! It tastes a lot like Dr. Pepper? The illusion of flavor is apropos. I can’t recycle any of the empty cans because I may need to resell them to live on someday.
The basic Mysterio comes with an energy effect unlike the Marvel Legends edition. Of course now that I’ve opened mine, Hasbro will undoubtedly release an upgraded version with those accessories & an unhelmeted head in a two-pack. (The new Hela with Skurge inexplicably has no swords.) The ML’s box is very pretty with lots of spot-varnishing, & its brief description spoils the film’s worst kept secret. He includes a leg of Molten Man, who looks like golden Clayface. I’m surprised Hasbro hadn’t made a classic version first since it’d be such an easy repaint.
Is this unlicensed 1/6
Ganke Ned Leeds actually going to have a likeness?
Stranger Things season three also rose up mid-week. So I guess I have to allocate time to evaluate it?