Amid some awkwardness, Marvel has announced that the next “Spider-Man” movie will be named “Far From Home”. This is apparently a very fitting title, as Spidey will be swinging around parts of Europe in the film.
The film is scheduled for shooting in London, so we can assume a return to this famous city for the next movie, although presumably not to Greenwich after Thor trashed the place in “The Dark World”.
This title seems logical enough, and I can understand Marvel wanting an opportunity to take advantage of some sweet tax breaks available in European filming locations. That said, I’m hesitant about the direction this project seems to be taking.
Let’s back up a second before I explain myself. This is about bigger things than just a shooting location.
The Wrong Spider-Man?
So here’s a fun thought: I don’t think Marvel Studios actually knows what to do with Spider-Man.
Yes, I know, this sounds ridiculous.
Marvel has a fantastic actor in the lead role, and the studio certainly has a better handle on the tone of the “Spider-Man” universe than Sony did, at least in recent years.
Nevertheless, there’s something about the Marvel version of Spidey that doesn’t quite sit right.
Making Tony Stark Peter’s father figure may be cute, but something is lost from the Spidey mythos when Uncle Ben is excluded from the mix. Peter’s moral compass is askew throughout “Homecoming”, as instead of wanting to genuinely help people, he’s more eager to impress Iron Man and become an Avenger.
It’s weird to detach Peter Parker from his nigh-crippling sense of responsibility. I want to see him suffer. I want to see him sweat and groan every time he’s on the way to class or a date or whatever, only to see a random thug about to break into a store.
Then I want to see Peter throw caution to the wind, ruin his evening’s plans or his attendance record, and go bust some heads. Because every street-level threat could be another Uncle Ben murder waiting to happen, and he just can’t let anyone else go through the pain he’s suffered.
This, to me, feels like a fundamental part of the “Spider-Man” experience that’s been missing from all but the Sam Raimi movies.
There is a moment of this; a brief shining second wherein the character shines. My favorite part of “Infinity War” is when Peter sneaks out of his schoolbus to go help with an ongoing alien invasion. It’s a tiny second, but it feels so much more earnest and heartfelt than any of the glitz and humor in “Homecoming”.
It also leads me nicely to my next point (I’m getting to “Far From Home”, I swear).
Spider-Man Needs Buildings
One of the things that rubbed me up the wrong way with “Homecoming” is the fact that Peter is a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
Yes, I know, that’s always been his schtick. But keeping Peter in Queens for all the action, where buildings are shorter and web swinging is less feasible, means taking away a bit part of the character.
In “Spider-Man” comics, New York City itself is one of the most important characters. Its landmarks are a big part of the Spidey iconography, and his powerset is perfect suited to its verticality.
Plus, there’s the importance of its citizens. Again in the Raimi movies, we see a little more of this than in subsequent films. The good people of New York are funny and rude and nosy and brave, and their lives give Peter reason to fight.
Peter isn’t just a hero for Queens. He’s everyone’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, and he deserves all of New York as his responsibility.
The Europe Connection
Marvel seems reluctant to let Peter swing around in New York. Perhaps too much of this vibe has been realized in “The Avengers” and the studio is trying to make the series feel more international.
Nevertheless, as someone who grew up an hour from London, I don’t really want to see Peter Parker swinging around on the Houses of Parliament, or the Gerkin, or the Shard, or any of our noteworthy skyscrapers.
I’d rather see Peter on the Chrysler Building, or the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s where he belongs, and it’s important to his character.
(The lady in the clip above gives Thor really bad directions, by the way. He’ll need to change at London Bridge, and the journey will take half an hour.)
New York is the city that Spider-Man is responsible for. The MCU lacks both the wider city, and the sense of responsibility.
Thus, I don’t really think Marvel Studios is hitting the appropriate thematic notes with their Spidey.
Sure, he’s fun, and he’s going to have some interesting adventures in fancy cities in the near future.
But if Peter Parker’s not guarding New York City, then is he truly Spider-Man?
(Yes. Yes he is. But it’s still not right.)