Unlike Spider-Man: Homecoming, which did a solid job of rethinking characters from the comics in new ways in order to make yet another Peter Parker-centric story feel fresh for the big screen, Far From Home amps things up by cleaving ever-so-slightly closer to the source material. And it does so in ways both big and small.
In the movie, Peter tinkers with gadgets, makes more than his fair share of dorky quips, and finds himself torn between his vigilante responsibilities and his personal life. He’s one of the world’s most popular Avengers, but he’s also a hormonal teenager who’s just trying to get a little downtime and hang out with his friends, and the conflict between those two aspects of Peter’s identity is a big part of what makes Far From Home feel like much more of a classic Spider-Man story than Homecoming.
But it isn’t until the film’s credits have begun rolling that the most surprising, and deftly-executed, contribution to the life of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Peter Parker pops up. It’s one that’s almost certainly going to change the shape of Marvel’s future films. Spoilers ahead, of course.
After defeating the Elemental threat endangering the world by learning the truth of Mysterio’s origins and his evil plan, Peter ends up more or less right back where we found him at the start of Far From Home. Peter’s back in New York with his family and friends, and after years of having to keep his Spider-Man persona a secret from basically everyone close to him save for Ned and Aunt May, he can finally be open with MJ about why he’s always sneaking out just before some major Spider-Man related occurrence happens.
MJ learning about Peter’s secret puts the pair of them into interesting territory that’s been explored in Marvel’s comics from a number of different angles over the years. After first revealing to Peter that she’d known his secret for years in Spider-Man #257, MJ and Peter’s complicated bond becomes that much stronger because both of them feel comfortable being open and honest about the dark parts of their lives they’ve fought to keep hidden. Sharing that part of himself with MJ gives Peter someone to confide in the things he simply can’t talk about with others, which is incredibly important. That intimacy plays a large role in what ultimately leads to the two of them becoming romantically entangled, because their relationship is a kind of refuge for them both from the outside world, and it’s what Far From Home does to the outside world that’s notable.
Far From Home’s mid-credits sequence picks right back up where the movie ended as Peter takes MJ for her first web-swing through NYC, and everything goes fine until the teens begin to part ways, and a newscast delivered by a familiar face begins playing on a gargantuan screen nearby. While the audience knows that Mysterio was responsible for the Elemental/drone attacks in Mexico, Prague, and London, J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle unwittingly presents the in-universe world with doctored footage (from Mysterio) that puts the blame on Spider-Man. Knowing that he’d been defeated, Quentin Beck/Mysterio used his final moments not just to frame Spider-Man, but also to reveal Peter’s identity to the world, which is a rather big fucking deal for obvious reasons.
Spider-Man learning about his media reputation. Image: Steve Ditko, Johnny Dee (Marvel)
There are a lot of things to unpack about the mid-credits scene, the most obvious of which being how downright delightful it is to see J.K. Simmons reprise his role as a very-enraged Jameson, who once again has a very big axe to grind with Spider-Man. In Marvel’s comics, the circumstances of Jameson’s legendary dislike of the web-slinger are drastically different and involve Jameson being jealous of the media attention Spider-Man’s heroics draw. Jameson first develops a hatred for Spider-Man when the hero inadvertently steals the spotlight from Jameson’s son John, an astronaut embarking on a mission that ends up going awry. After Spider-Man ultimately saves the younger Jameson, Jonah’s still unconvinced of the vigilante’s intentions and continues with his media crusade against the hero, in part, because it leads to a boost in the Bugle’s sales.
Despite Jameson’s rage being rooted in irrationality, his insistence that Spider-Man is a public menace that must be dealt with is a fundamental part of the character that’s always resonated to a certain extent, because you can kind of understand where he’s coming from. Spider-Man, like all costumed vigilantes, is a public menace when you look at him as a beacon or a lightning rod for the villains they invariably end up tussling with in their adventures. Superheroes might be fighting because they want to do the right thing, but the reasons behind their cause can only do so much to make civilians sympathise with them. That isn’t really the reason Jameson himself harasses Spider-Man, but it’s an idea that’s baked into the characters’ dynamic, and goes on to make Peter’s stint working at the newspaper even more layered with meaning.
But Far From Home legitimizes Jameson’s hate in a novel way because you can’t entirely fault him for coming to the conclusions about Spider-Man that he does. Even though the footage is edited to make it seem as if Peter ordered all of Mysterio’s drones to attack, no one has any way of knowing that it’s been tampered with, and given everything the planet’s recently been through (see: Endgame), no one’s really thinking about villainous media manipulation.
While the world’s Infinity Snapped-population has returned, Far From Homemakes clear that the world’s a different place now. Earth’s citizens are aware of the larger-than-life things going on because they simply can’t deny their existence anymore. Everyone’s been affected by them in one way or another, and they look to superheroes like Spider-Man and the Avengers to keep them safe. That’s what makes Jameson’s report as compelling as it is devastating, because it pushes you to understand why the public would latch on to the “Spider-Man as a menace” narrative in the MCU.
How the public feels about Spider-Man has been different at various points in time depending on what he’s in the news for, what kind of suit he’s wearing, and what hero team he’s hanging out with, but it’s one of the most interesting things about his larger mythos because of what it represents. Peter Parker’s always understood that there wouldn’t be a Spider-Man were it not for the friendly neighbours who accepted him as a Queens folk hero before he joined the big leagues, and the bad reputation Jameson’s hellbent on giving him might as well be a character in Spidey’s rogues’ gallery in and of itself.
Far From Home gives Spider-Man that new, yet familiar threat to face in a more than inspired way, and Peter’s going to have one hell of a time trying to disentangle himself from the messy conundrum the next time we see him swinging scrims the silver screen.