The new Spider-Man film came out at the end of last week and, amazingly, Marvel have done it again. Yet again Marvel has continued on its upwards trajectory that has persisted ever since Thor inexplicably caught the Tube to Greenwich in Thor 2: The Dark World. It’s a seriously impressive accomplishment.
What am I talking about? The fact that Spider-Man: Far From Home is not just a fun and exciting superhero adventure – but it is an adventure that keeps the geography really impressively accurate. At least in the places I know well.
Yes, dear readers, it is time to analyse the most important part of the film: the geography.
Major, life-ruining spoilers from this point onwards.
The film begins by taking our hero and his class to Venice. From the end of the film, we know that they flew from Newark to Venice – a flight that is very much possible, though Ned references that the flight is nine hours long. In reality, flights between the two are closer to 8hr30m. But I’ll grant them some artistic license on this.
We see the class take a boat to their hotel, which is located on Venice island – and this is indeed something that is possible when arriving at Venice Marco-Polo Airport. So good and plausible there.
For the rest of the Venice leg, and the showdown on the Rialto Bridge, my geography knowledge is unfortunately relatively limited – I’ve been to Venice, but essentially the entire city is twee little buildings optimised for Instagram, so determining whether the actions taken are accurate is better left to Italians in the comments section below.
There is one thing I know for sure though. The least plausible scene was when we saw Ned and Betty taking a romantic trip on a Gondola. Why so implausible? Anyone who has been to Venice will tell you that getting a ride on one costs eighty fucking quid. Would a couple of high school kids really pay for that?
The Austrian Alps
Following Fury’s intervention in the trip, the class is redirected to Prague. To do this journey we see them take a fairly tight road around the edge of a mountain in the Austrian alps. While beneficial for dramatic purposes, this is a fairly unlikely route to take in real life, especially if arriving in Prague at speed to deal with a multidimensional threat is important.
In reality, the optimal route would probably along more major roads – like the A23, A10 and A1, which appear to be mostly dual carriage ways, while travelling through Austria, before passing into Czechia.
Unfortunately, I’ve never been to Prague so I can’t really comment on the geography here, Though if it is wrong, presumably Marvel can just claim it was all an illusion created by Mysterio anyway.
We next see Peter Parker hitch a train to Berlin – to go to what he thought was Europol headquarters. This is a journey that is very much possible and can be done directly. It takes around 4 hours and ten minutes, which is a long time to cling on to a train. If Peter had booked a standard class ticket for the following day, it would have cost him around £67 according to The Trainline.
The most impressive part about this sequence was that the film makers – if my memory is correct – appear to have got the correct type of train with the correct blue and grey livery, if the photo on the excellent Seat61 website is accurate.
After a mind-bending showdown with Mysterio, we next see Peter take the train to the Netherlands. Well, the train takes him anyway.
Unfortunately, I can’t determine whether the town is real or not (the place it was shot was definitely not – it looked fake as hell on screen, and the internet suggests it was actually shot in Czechia).
Though what we can say for sure is that there are indeed direct trains from Berlin to Amsterdam, so it is a plausible journey for Peter to have taken, assuming that you can believe him hanging on to the front of a train for six and a half hours.
And once again full credit to the filmmakers: the train that hits him is clearly a German ICE train, which would be the correct sort of train that makes this journey.
Crucially though, what we can also determine from this is what time the fight with Mysterio took place: There are only direct trains between the two cities every two hours, which means that Peter must have been hit by the 10:34, 12:34, 14:34, or 16:34 – and so on.
The third act of the film takes place in London. I was ready to do a big, deep dive into the geography here. It’s a city I live in and know inside-out.
We first see the class arrive at St Pancras – accurate, assuming they arrived on the Eurostar. What makes it less plausible is where the tour bus picks the class up from: in reality, it is the driveway for the rather fancy St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, which to my knowledge does not act a a bus stop.
All of the rest of the action was confined to the area around Tower Bridge. Though we did also see Nick Fury (or at least, we thought we saw Nick Fury…) in The Shard, suggesting the The Blip massively reduced office rental costs.
Amazingly, this was all pretty much spot-on compared to real life. Even the Tower Bridge glass walkways are accurate to real life.
The biggest inaccuracy was probably the Tower of London, where we saw Peter’s classmates and Happy retreat to. Here there were a couple of errors.
First and foremost, the design of what was fairly obviously a set was modelled on the look of the interior of The White Tower – the central building in the Tower, which has wooden floors and suits of armour and all of that sort of thing,
Map credit: Planet Ware
The problem is that… the Crown Jewels are not stored in the White Tower (number 8 on the map above). They are in a separate building elsewhere on the Tower of London site (number 17 on the map), and the jewels are displayed very differently. Instead of being inside a vault with a big metal door, they are displayed in glass cases in a fairly narrow room. In fact, if you want to visit and see them for yourself, you’ll discover that the only way to see them is to travel on a travellator that has been installed to guard against dawdling tourists from spending too long staring.
This almost ruined the film for me.
Ultimately though, I have to give Spider-Man: Far From Home credit where credit is due. As far as I can tell, it did a good job on the geography front. And I guess the being an enjoyable film front too, if that counts for anything.
James O’Malley tweets as @Psythor.