The basic thing to remember about the new superhero movie “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is that its a kids picture. No irony intended. Of course all the movies based on comic books are, at heart, movies for children or adolescents.
But Spider-Man himself is a teenager. The issues — how romances go and when one puts aside childish things — are issues for teens.
And the movie’s action gallops in an adolescent sort of way. This means the action scenes are a little different than what we are used to seeing in Marvel and DC brand superhero movies, a little lighter, and a little quicker. Which is good. We don’t need another comic-book movie made to an unbending standard.
“Spider-Man: Far From Home” begins by summarizing some of the important points in the larger narrative of all Marvel movies. Then it ends, during and right after its closing credits, with the depiction of additional complications, the last of which are shark-jumping — they overcomplicate our understanding of events to the point that even Marvel movie fans will laugh at them.
In between the film is about an odd European tour two high school teachers take about half a dozen kids on. Included in the traveling party are Peter Parker (Tom Holland), his romantic target M.J. (Zendaya, who has a good turn), his best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon), and high school journalist Betty (Angourie Rice from “The Nice Guys”).
Betty and Ned discover mutual interests on the plane to Venice. They become one of the film’s three romantic couples. In Italy, Peter is visited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who is trying to organize some superheros counter to a new threat from a parallel universe.
And at this point, most viewers who aren’t devoted science fiction fans may well throw up their hands and say, “Parallel universe? Bah. Humbug.” But who are we to disdain the regular expansion of superhero story definitions of reality? After all, we’ve paid to watch a movie about a boy who has the “powers” of intuitive and acrobatic spiders.
The monster causing troubles in the canals is a water-reforming “Elemental,” a sort of titan who destroys for no apparent reason. Fighting him already is new outer space import Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). He wears a fish bowl for a helmet and shoots out green rays from his hands.
Mysterio stops the water monster. Peter, wearing a carnival mask, tries to help keep a tower from being toppled. Tries unsuccessfully. Fury passes along a pair of glasses that give Peter access to a Genie or an Alexa who then controls Stark Enterprises’ satellites, computers, and armed drones.
There’s more “Elemental” trouble in Prague. Pete, who wants to be a boy for a while, passes the glasses on to Mysterio. Then our teen hero goes off to try to work up the nerve to approach M.J. (romance number two).
Soon he will be nearly killed by a train and he will awaken in a Dutch jail. He calls for help — he calls Happy (Jon Favreau). And Happy, who is also looking for something to do with himself, comes to help perhaps partly because he is now in love with Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Remember, she used to flirt with Stark.
Anyway, there you have the third romance. Each of them is chaste and goofy enough to suit the adolescent audience.
And if the ticket-holders are thinking about meeting girls, maybe they won’t miss the implausibilities in the story, implausibilities even given that it is a superhero movie. Poor Pete finally has to rely on his sixth sense to get past the illusions he has been living inside.
That leap — his using his intuition — is the act that gives the story a chance to resolve the complication about the “Elementals.”
But will resolution of that complication, which in hindsight doesn’t look all that significant, give viewers the satisfaction of a problem resolved?
Who knows what will satisfy them? They’re kids.