Warning: Major SPOILERS for Spider-Man: Far From Home ahead!
There have been few endings to an MCU film quite like what we got with Spider-Man: Far From Home. At the end of the film, Spider-Man defeated Mysterio, Quentin Beck was dead and Peter Parker and MJ were finally together. Yet after the day was seemingly won, the film’s mid-credits sequence delivers an unforgettable twist. A video appears all across New York, implicating Spider-Man in the Elemental attacks and Quentin Beck’s death, and revealing that the Web-Slinger is Peter Parker.
This cliffhanger has major implications moving forward and cements Mysterio as one of Spider-Man’s most successful onscreen villains. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who played Mysterio in the film, really loved the daring nature of the cliffhanger ending, as he explained:
So often, we’re used to the same structure, particularly in very large movies, and it takes a lot of courage to leave on those kinds of cliffhangers. The way I look at it is twofold: Mysterio exists as someone to teach Peter Parker a lesson. In my opinion, there’s no use for just a straight-up bad guy unless there’s a lesson to be learned. And the lesson, particularly for Peter, is what is growing up for real.
Jake Gyllenhaal is right that we are used to a similar structure in big blockbuster movies. That’s as true for Marvel as it is for any other brand; the hero get the girl, the villain is defeated, happy ending, cue credits. It’s what we expect and there’s nothing wrong with that, That’s what makes cliffhanger endings in these four-quadrant blockbuster films like what we got in Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man: Far From Home so ballsy.
Spider-Man: Far From Home left audiences on a cliffhanger, with major questions to close out a Phase and a saga of a cinematic universe. Jake Gyllenhaal loves that type of ending and the guts it took to make Far From Home’s ending a cliffhanger. As the actor told The Hollywood Reporter, he likes his character and the film's ending because of what it does for the story and for the character of Peter Parker.
Peter Parker learned some very hard lessons from trusting Quentin Beck about growing up and taking responsibility. Peter just wanted to be a kid, but whether that's unfair for someone of his age or not, he no longer has that option. The mantle passed to him by Tony Stark and Quentin Beck’s usurpation of it shows why Uncle Ben’s famous words about power and responsibility are easier to repeat than to live by.
That familiar structure Jake Gyllenhaal talked about often finds the villain defeated and everything basically reset to a large degree before the next villain comes along. That is not the case with Mysterio and Spider-Man: Far From Home, as Jake Gyllenhaal continued:
The courage that the filmmakers had in Far From Home to say, ‘We’re gonna bring in a villain that’s going to turn Peter’s world upside down and force him to be who he actually is to the whole world. Nothing’s a secret anymore,’ that was amazing. As an audience member, not as the person who played Mysterio, I believe in Peter Parker, and I believe in Spider-Man, his power and how strong he is. What Mysterio reveals will end up helping Peter, somewhere. He’ll learn from it, and those are the best characters. The characters who teach our heroes a lesson don’t always have to be like Obi-Wan.
Similar to the effect Zemo’s actions had on the Avengers after Captain America: Civil War, Mysterio’s actions have changed Peter Parker’s life and trajectory forever. Although the MCU has largely eschewed secret identities, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker still had his. That is no longer the case and not only does he now have to bear the responsibility of Tony Stark’s legacy, he now has to do it absent the comfort and safety of anonymity.
Yet despite the worst-case scenario Peter Parker now finds himself in, Jake Gyllenhaal sounds optimistic, as are we all, that the hero will grow from it. First lesson: don’t entrust priceless technology to a dude you just met. I actually really like Jake Gyllenhaal’s assertion that the best teachers aren’t always wizened old good guys like Obi-Wan Kenobi. You learn more from a loss than you do from a win, and after losing at the buzzer to Mysterio, Spider-Man will be smarter and stronger for his next battle.
Spider-Man: Homecoming is now playing. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to prep for all the biggest movies coming in the months ahead.