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‘Spider-Man’ an upgrade from ‘Homecoming’

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” brings closure to the first 11 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while still planting seeds for the future of the mega-franchise.

Ditching New York City for a road trip across Europe, “Far From Home” is a “Spider-Man” film unlike any that’s ever been done before. Where the previous “Spider-Man: Homecoming” focused on hero Peter Parker trying to still get a handle on his abilities in an effort to join the Avengers, its sequel is all about Parker trying to avoid that mantle in an effort to be a normal kid while his class travels overseas. The idea of a road trip “Spider-Man” is pretty inspired and does create some unique story beats. The movie overcomes an awkward first act to really find its footing once the characters reach Europe.

It’s in Europe that Tom Holland’s Parker is recruited by Nick Fury and Maria Hill to help Mr. Beck, also known as Mysterio, in an effort to defeat a group of elemental enemies that could destroy the world. In true “Spider-Man” fashion, these elementals always manage to show up at awkward times for Parker, who’s trying to just be a normal student after he and literally billions of other people returned following the reversal of Thanos’ snap during the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” After going to space, fighting a galactic psychopath and literally dying in the process, Parker is overwhelmed by the fame and pressure of being a superhero mentored by Iron Man.

Perhaps, therein lies the problem with the latest version of the web-slinger. Those who were not a fan of how Peter Parker and his alter-ego, Spider-Man, were so heavily tied into Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man’s history will continue to be even more frustrated with “Far From Home.” Instead of Parker learning the true weight of the responsibility of his abilities and decisions from the death of Uncle Ben — a staple of the character since his creation by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962 — this version of the character is defined by Stark. Everything from his suit to his catchphrases to the defining moments of his brief superhero career have all been defined or molded by Stark.

It’s a problem that continues to permeate throughout the MCU. Iron Man is the most popular character in the franchise, but it’s time to move beyond him and let characters define themselves. Spider-Man should not be continuously using Stark tech in order to build a new suit or overcome a problem. His villains should not be disgruntled individuals wronged by Stark. Spider-Man should not be Iron Lad or any one of the other heroes that took up the mantle in Stark’s absence. He’s his own character that can stand on his own without being propped up by the memory — or actions — of Stark.

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