Warning: This article contains spoilers from Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home
Avengers: Endgame might have brought the Infinity Saga to a close but it didn’t do the same for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That duty fell on Spider-Man: Far From Home to complete but despite the climactic finale of Endgame, which saw Iron Man sacrifice his life to save the world, it still managed to become another episode of The Tony Stark Show.
Peter Parker is back at school and trying to come to terms with Tony’s death but there are reminders of the billionaire everywhere. From Iron Man murals and in-flight videos to Happy Hogan popping up endlessly and Peter getting bequeathed Tony’s AI sunglasses, there’s no escaping the Avenger’s presence.
Even the motivation of the villain, Quentin Beck/Mysterio, is inspired by Stark that at times you question whether this is a Spider-Man sequel or “Iron Man 4: Beyond the Grave”.
Still, Tony’s overarching presence is not really that surprising when you consider he has been a firm fixture in Peter’s life ever since his arrival into the MCU.
Stark enlisted Peter’s help in Captain America: Civil War, then the billionaire became a surrogate Uncle Ben to the teen hero in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Avengers: Infinity War saw Spider-Man spend nearly every scene with Iron Man and in Endgame, the chance to bring Peter back is the only reason why Tony decides to put his Science Bros hat back on and work out how to time travel.
Ultimately, Far From Home provides the closure Parker needs in order to move on from the loss of Tony and hopefully that will serve the rest of the MCU too in order for the franchise to evolve as we enter Phase 4.
The mid-credit scene of the film goes a long way to show that Spider-Man is set to face a problem no other big-screen iteration of the character has had to deal with.
As Spider-Man drops MJ off from a swing around Manhattan, a breaking news banner in Times Square informs them that the defeated Beck had delivered a fake video, incriminating Spider-Man in the Elemental “attacks,” to J. Jonah Jameson who is now the editor of a controversial news website.
Not only is Spidey painted as Enemy No. 1 but his civilian identity is revealed too so now everyone in the world knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
Neither of the previous Spider-Man franchises have dealt with this plotline, they’ve both followed much of the same narrative and character beats, actually, which means that Tom Holland’s superhero journey is going in a fresh direction and an autonomous one to boot that doesn’t need to rely on Tony Stark.
J.K. Simmons reprising the role he played in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy has pretty big ramifications too. That franchise was, of course, part of a totally separate universe created by Sony before the studio embarked on its creative partnership with Marvel Studios.
By re-introducing Simmons as Jameson in Holland’s Spider-Man universe, it could actually put into play the Multiverse theory rather than it simply being used as a red herring concocted by Beck and his team to trick the world into believing he is from an alternate Earth.
Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has already made use of this popular narrative device from the comic books and offered up a variety of Spider-People from different universes. Maybe Holland’s MCU Earth is, in fact, Earth-616, where Jameson is the founder of an InfoWars-like news website while on the Earth where Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man exists he’s still the editor of the Daily Bugle newspaper.
The introduction of the multiverse would be the logical next step after Ant-Man and Endgame dealt with the Quantum Realm and the Avenger’s mastering time travel. And, as well as being able to introduce Sony’s past Marvel characters, the MCU would also be able to offer a way in for the newly acquired X-Men, Deadpool and Fantastic Four following Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox.
And if Far From Home’s very end-credit scene is anything to go by there will be a lot going on in outer space as well as more storylines involving the Skrulls. The reveal that Talos and Soren were impersonating Nick Fury and Maria Hill the entire time shows how easy it is for these shape-shifters to infiltrate human society.
Right now they are technically allies of Captain Marvel but one only has to glance at the Marvel Comics’ Secret Invasion arc to know that this special relationship could take a sinister turn.
The fact that Nick Fury has been hanging out on a Skrull spaceship since Stark’s funeral means the aliens will continue to play a role in the next Phase and potentially more time will be spent in space beyond the adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Of course, we also have brand new and relatively new heroes to look forward to in Phase 4; sequels to Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange and Black Panther are confirmed as well as the introduction of The Eternals, Shang-Chi and Ms Marvel to the MCU too. That’s a lot more diversity coming through rather than a reliance on “straight white guys” leading the charge.
Fans will have to wait eight months before this movie comes out and that is certainly no bad thing. Superhero fatigue is real and given how many films have saturated the market over the last few years even the most ardent of supporters might be finding the somewhat formulaic nature of the MCU instalments become a little tiring.
It is pretty surprising that after the 22-film build up to Avengers: Endgame, 11 years of global hype and marketing campaigns, it still hasn’t managed to beat Avatar as the highest grossing movie of all time.
So a gap between Phase 3 and 4 is a welcome one that should allow the dust to settle on the Infinity Saga and help reinvigorate audiences to build anticipation for what’s next for these Marvel heroes.
Thankfully Spider-Man: Far From Home has done a decent enough job of closing the window to that super cinematic journey by already opening a door to a fresh new one.