Peter Parker (Tom Holland) goes from Queens to the Crown Jewels in this co-production between Sony, Marvel and the European tourist board.
The 23rd instalment in the MCU has the unenviable task of following Endgame and last year’s animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and it largely succeeds, exploiting the former for comic effect and the latter for its multiverse-inspired psychedelia.
We’re wisely given a vacation from the high-stakes Avengers drama as Spider-Man goes on a school trip to the great country of Europe where he’s forced by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to battle inter-dimensional elemental creatures (the other Avengers must all be busy), when all he really wants is to put the whole superhero thing on hold and open Peter Parker’s Pizza Parlour (that’s not true but it seems like a good idea).
The flimsiness of this threat makes the first half’s action suspiciously uninvolved (you don’t exactly need Spidey-Sense to see where it’s going), before recycling a previously used bit of plot from the franchise that makes no more sense this time round. The story has more holes than a spider’s web but Holland carries it over the line and displays charming chemistry with Zendaya’s MJ, the first of Spidey’s cinematic girlfriends to have a personality.
This lends a lot of likability to a fun-filled adventure, while the movie’s deepfake ideas feel fresh (even if Incredibles 2 did it a year ago). But Marvel’s reuse of an old storyline seems like a backswing, and there’s little point in revealing Mysterio’s role since he needs no help in spoiling the film.