A lot has happened since the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and a lot has been revealed about the state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since Fandango visited the set of its follow-up, Spider-Man: Far From Home, in August 2018. But there’s still much to share, things that Sony and Marvel were able to divulge to press at the time — impressively without giving away anything regarding Avengers: Endgame — about the plot and characters of the upcoming sequel.
Therefore, we too will avoid discussing much, if anything, concerning that new MCU installment while also keeping the Far From Home details relatively spoiler-free, at least for the movie’s third act. If you prefer to go into the next Spider-Man totally fresh, however, you’ll want to steer away from this set visit report before reading any further. For everyone else, here is everything cool we learned while observing the making of the movie and interviewing actor Tom Holland, director Jon Watts and others:
Tickets for Spider-Man: Far From Home are now available at Fandango. The film hits theaters on July 2.
Far From Home is a teen spy movie
In addition to being a superhero movie and part of the MCU, Spider-Man: Homecoming is, at its core, a coming-of-age high school movie in the vein of John Hughes. Spider-Man: Far From Home continues that idea but also takes the kids on a European vacation and then drops them into the middle of a 007-style spy thriller.
“This film is kind of like if Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spectre had a baby,” described Holland on set outside London. “It has the sexy aspect of being in Europe, of having the spy mission undertone, but at the heart of it is still a very similar film to Spider-Man: Homecoming in the sense that it's really about Peter and his friends and the kids and the lighthearted humor that they have.”
When pressed for more direct predecessors for the James Bond Junior aspect, Watts couldn’t offer anything by name. “There aren't really as many movies as I thought there would be about high school kids going on European trips,” he said later by phone. “Nothing that I really wanted to specifically reference. As much as I love If Looks Could Kill, and as good as Richard Grieco is, I'm not going to say that one was a huge influence.”
Holland said his character doesn’t actually allude to Spectre or any other movies in Far From Home the way Peter Parker references The Empire Strikes Back in Captain America: Civil War and Alien in Avengers: Infinity War. “That's kind of a Russo thing,” he acknowledged of directors Joe and Anthony Russo before making a surprising confession. “It's so funny, the two movies I referenced in their movies…I haven't seen either of those.“
Spider-Man has a new suit suited for a super spy
When Peter packs for his trip to Europe, he leaves his Spider-Man suit behind. For one thing, he just wants a nice summer holiday with his friends. For another thing, as he tells Nick Fury in the movie, Spider-Man can’t just keep showing up in the same places he’s traveling to (as he does in Washington, D.C. in Homecoming) without his friends making the connection.” So, Fury provides him with an all-new all-black “stealth suit.”
“It’s inspired by a bunch of different looks in the comics — he had the Noir, Big Time — but when Ryan Meinerding was designing this, he had all the sort of past S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in mind, so it's very reminiscent of what Black Widow or Hawkeye would wear,” Carroll said. “This is supposed to be a very tactical version of the suit. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles that Tony gave him. But it allows him to work in Europe without everyone assuming Spider-Man is on the scene.”
The costume FX team pointed out that it’s more of a conventional special ops look, as they showed off its zippers and utility belt, and said the decree from Meinerding and Watts was for “a Captain America or Hawkeye kind of garment” rather than the skin-fitting type. “It moves like a dance outfit,” they claimed about its mobility, adding that the first time Holland wore it on set, he was able to do one of his signature back flips with ease.
Holland was a big fan of the outfit change. “It’s awesome,” he told us. “It's not actually capable of much. We've sort of stripped Spider-Man back and it now is just him relying on his powers. But it is his ability to act as Spider-Man without the world knowing that Spider-Man is there. It's just an idea that he has to keep his identity from his friends. But it's awesome. It's really, really cool. I can go to the bathroom, which is a huge bonus.”
Carroll also talked about how it contrasts against the trademark Spidey look and revealed that we’ll be seeing a lot of it in Far From Home. “We thought it'd be a great juxtaposition from what he normally wears, the bright colors, and hopefully it will highlight the differences,” he said. “He wears it for a big chunk of the movie. He gets it not long after he crosses paths with the water elemental [villain], and then he wears it right up until the third act of the movie. By that point, allegiances have shifted and so on, so maybe he's decided he doesn't want to wear Nick Fury's costume anymore. It is a big part of the movie, and he is wearing it for more or less the second act of the film.”
Mysterio is Peter’s new role model
Samuel L. Jackson takes the guest-starring role in Spider-Man: Far From Home, similar to Robert Downey Jr.’s appearance in Homecoming. But Nick Fury does not serve as a father figure for Peter the way Tony Stark/Iron Man does in that movie. Instead, it’s Quentin Beck, a.k.a. a new caped superhero called Mysterio, who becomes something of a mentor to the young Spidey as they team-up to battle the movie’s bad guys.
“It's very much big brother/little brother,” Holland revealed of Mysterio’s relationship to Spider-Man. “And Nick Fury is the head teacher who is constantly telling me off. Because I don't really want to be there. I want to go on holiday. And Mysterio is always the one sort of sticking up for me and patting me on the back and telling me I'm doing a good job. There are some really funny moments in the film where I feel like I haven't done a good job and Mysterio's like, ‘Good job, kid!’”
Even with the past public reveal that Mysterio is a good guy in Far From Home, many fans are suspect of the comic book villain’s intentions and his ultimate status on the side of good and evil. But Carroll insists he’s Spider-Man’s ally throughout the sequel. And Mysterio, who did indeed also begin as a good guy in the comics, even has a precedent in the MCU for comparison.
“Similar to what we did with Mordo in Doctor Strange, we wanted to give [Peter and Quentin] time to have a relationship so that when, if we get into doing something different with Mysterio, it really feels like a betrayal,” the producer explained. “Not unlike Chiwetel [Ejiofor], we've got this amazing actor, we really want to do something interesting with him, we think we have this fun new in for it and we're hopefully setting the stage for something really spectacular and which feels really Spider-Man. “Again, if we get to something else with this character, they've already got this really personal relationship.”
Does that mean Gyllenhaal will be back in future installments as Mysterio? Nothing was confirmed nor denied, and maybe it hasn’t even been decided yet. “We think getting someone like Jake into a role like Beck is something that we definitely think sets some really fun things up,” Carroll reiterated when asked about the villain team the Sinister Six being a possibility for later installments. “But as to specifics, we're taking these one movie at a time. It's not something we're specifically building toward.”
Mysterio’s look is a mashup of Avengers costumes
Mysterio’s background was not revealed on set, and while the latest trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home hints at his origins, Quentin Beck is, fitting to his other name, still a mystery in terms of his superpowers and pretty much everything else. We did get a good look at the character’s costume, though, and the guy certainly seems to be enamored with the MCU’s other heroes.
Influences for Mysterio’s suit came from Thor, Iron Man, the Vision and Black Panther, according to the costume FX team, with the cape being modeled after the god of thunder’s, and chest armor being something Tony Stark might make. Now, that could just be, as they said, “just to keep it all in the same realm, to see that this little superhero lives in the same world as the rest.” But within the film, Mysterio seems himself clearly visually inspired by the various Avengers as far as how he designed his own super suit.
One thing about Mysterio’s look that had to be faithful to his comic book costume, though, was his goofy “fishbowl” helmet. “We tried a couple different things,” Watts admitted, “but the second you take the fishbowl away, it stops being Mysterio. That's one of the key visual concepts that make him Mysterio.”
Carroll concurred about the need for the fishbowl helmet. “Between Ryan and Kevin [Feige], there's no world where we could’ve brought him to the big screen and be allowed to do it without the fishbowl,” he told us. “Obviously we don't want to cover this guy's face the whole time so it does retract, not unlike Robert Downey's Iron Man helmet, but it's there and it's cool.”
Spider-Man’s main villains are only inspired by the comics
While Mysterio is apparently not the movie’s villain, as expected, there are plenty of enemies both big and small for Spider-Man to face against in Far From Home. Firstly, there are the “elemental” monsters terrorizing different parts of the world. The sequel begins with Fury and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill dealing with a Sandman-like earth-based creature in Mexico, and then Spidey’s first bit of action in Europe is with a water monster in Venice.
“He’s, of course, inspired by Hydro Man,” confirmed producer Eric Hauserman Carroll. “When we took a step back and started talking about the characters we wanted to bring to the big screen, we decided there were sort of two levels of Spider-Man villain. The trademark of a great Spider-Man villain is his relationship to that villain. He has to have some deeply personal connection to that character, whether it's the Osborns and being best friends, or what we did with the Vulture in the last movie. But there's this other subset of Spider-Man villains that are awesome and who we'd love to bring to the big screen but it seems like maybe a whole movie about Hydro Man might not be the way to go. So multiple elemental creatures are popping up across the globe and Nick Fury has assembled this team to squash these guys.”
Spider-Man encounters another of these elemental creatures during a midsummer festival when the school trip moves on to Prague. This one is a fire-based monster inspired by the comic book villain Molten Man. “Again, Molten Man is a cool character who has popped up in the comics over and over. If we were super literal about him, he'd have a very specific haircut,” Carroll continued. “He's definitely taken a bit of a monstrous turn. He was always made of a molten gold, a yellow metal, so we took that and we think it's a very unique take on this monster.”
We never got a look nor any information about whatever the fourth elemental monster might be like or what character might have inspired it, but we can assume it has something to with the element of air. Carroll did tell us that all of the creatures are inspired by Spider-Man characters — so feel free to take your own guesses — before stating that they “sort of come together in the end” after each strikes out on their own.
The Elemental Creatures aren’t Peter’s only adversary
Meanwhile, on the teen movie level of Far From Home, Peter has another kind of nemesis to deal with: Brad. Played by Remy Hii from Crazy Rich Asians, the character is a fellow student at Midtown High School on the European field trip, and he’s Peter’s competition when it comes to attracting the attention of MJ (Zendaya).
“He's the kind of guy that guys like me and Peter hated in high school,” Carroll explained about Brad. “Their hair always looked really good, their clothes always fit the way they were supposed to. He always has something funny to say, and he's read all the same books as MJ — or at least he lies and says he's read all the same books as MJ. We wanted keep that sort of high school soap opera thing alive in this movie, because if you really look back at old Spider-Man comics, that side of it is almost as important as the superhero [side]. It was this winning combination of taking what people loved about, like, Archie and putting it into a superhero comic. He's not the stereotypical bully, but he is an obstacle. He's not mean spirited, doesn’t pick on Peter or shove him in lockers, he just happens to make the girl who Peter likes laugh a lot, which makes Peter uncomfortable."
And because Peter is a teenage boy who can’t always control his jealousy, he winds up being the lesser person in the love triangle at times. “Peter has some technology after meeting up with Nick Fury and tries to use that to make Brad look bad,” Carroll divulged. “He almost blows up his bus with some weaponized drones.”
As for other villains from Spidey’s rogue gallery, Carroll clarified that despite rumors to the contrary, neither Michael Keaton as the Vulture nor Michael Mando as the Scorpion return from Homecoming. But there may be hint of another super villain from Marvel Comics in Far From Home. When asked about a character on Fury’s team named Dimitri played by Numan Acar, Carroll offered this non-denial: “I think anyone who works for Nick Fury certainly has a mysterious past. We're not specifically saying that he's Chameleon, but we're not not saying that.”
The stakes are greater but still personal
Spider-Man: Far From Home is certainly not going to be as epic in scale as Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, but compared to Spider-Man’s previous solo feature, the stakes are much bigger. The villains are an international threat, after all. But at the same time, this is a Spider-Man movie and the stakes remain something specifically significant to Peter Parker.
“The world is at risk in this film,” Holland reminded. “Vulture was sort of low-level crime. It was sort of under the radar. Not too many people knew about it, but this is a worldwide event. The stakes are much higher for him, and I think he understands that, meaning he really has to show up and bring his A game.”
And as Spider-Man has to defeat the elemental creatures, Peter has to overcome that obstacle in his personal life. “At the heart of the film, Peter Parker just wants to tell the girl he really likes that he loves her and have a nice holiday,” the actor continued. “That all gets ruined. Brad gets in the way.”
As Peter and his superhero alter ego go globetrotting and face a worldwide threat, it was important to Watts to keep Far From Home close to the heart. “I always think of it as a character-based story,” the director explained, comparing the new movie to Homecoming as well as the Avengers movies. “Instead of thinking it in context of the larger universe, I like to think of it in the context of Peter Parker's emotional journey. Where was he in the last movie, where did he end up and where is he going to go now? In terms of how to incorporate that into this larger mythology, that was always a part of it, but for me, I just try to focus on telling Peter's story and making that the strongest story that I can tell.”
When asked about whether any scene in Far From Home will be remembered for the sort of personal tension we saw in Homecoming with Peter and the Vulture’s encounter on the way to the dance, Holland teased something even more intense. “There's a scene in this film where audiences will feel like they've been punched in the face. Even filming it, I remember walking out and then watching it again on the monitors and asked Jon, ‘Are you sure that's okay?’ And he's like, ‘No, it's not. People are going to hate this scene.’ It's pretty crazy. And it's very similar in the way that it's very tense and rips the rug from beneath your feet.”
Ned is still the guy in the chair
One of Peter’s most important personal relationships continues in the sequel as his pal Ned, played by Jacob Batalon, is part of the group of students traveling to Europe. The only thing different is that the boys are developing new relationships of the romantic variety. As the trip begins, Ned begins dating Betty Brant (Angourie Rice), and so he has to make time for her, as well.
"Betty is a very important part of his life at this moment because it's the first relationship he's had. As a teenager, he values that very highly above a lot of things. But he still loves being the guy in the chair,” Batalon explained by phone. “He's just on this different tip now. He's all of a sudden thinking about girls and all these things and how this vacation is his beginning of a new chapter of pubescent living…He’s still the fun-loving kid, just has this other thing on his mind.”
He also sees more danger than in Homecoming. “In the first one, Ned was really just amazed to be a part of the superhero world. But none of those things really affected him directly,” the actor continued. “So when these monsters come along, since he's in the middle of the crossfire, he definitely gets a lot more scared and realizes that real things are happening. He's still a big fan, but also just terrified for his life. At the bottom of this, he's still just a big comic book nerd and just a super huge fan. That's just him. He's always going to be down for that. But he's also very logical in knowing that they have to survive.”
What could be next for Ned? In the comics, the character is another one of Peter’s personal ties that becomes a villain. “To be completely honest, yes, I would love to do that,” Batalon admitted when asked if he’d like to see Ned turn into the Hobgoblin in the movies. “That seems like such a fun process as an actor to go through. At the same time, Ned's just a really sweet guy. I definitely don't see that [happening], but I'm not saying I couldn't do it. I could definitely pull my best villain out. I'd love to.”
Peter and Happy have a new bond
Nick Fury and Maria Hill aren’t the only MCU regulars with guest roles in Far From Home. Jon Favreau reprises his role as Stark Industries’ Happy Hogan. The character has an interesting relationship and increased bond with Peter in the new movie due to their shared connection to Iron Man. “A lot of time's passed since the last one. They were through a lot together,” the actor explained, vaguely. “Happy has always been very loyal to Tony, going back to the books, too.”
Happy also eventually finds himself sort of babysitting all of Peter’s friends, protecting them from the bad guys while Spider-Man saves the day. “I was the Nick Fury of Homecoming. Now I'm more the Hagrid of Far From Home,” he joked about his new responsibilities. “But I'm having a lot of fun.”
The change from Homecoming to Far From Home is only a small part of the evolution Favreau’s character has had in the MCU, as the actor and Iron Man director waxed nostalgically. “Remember, I started playing this because I just wanted to give myself a cameo as basically an extra in the first one, and what's strange for me is how all of this has evolved into something where every little thread played out into other things,” he said. “My neighbor was Clark Gregg, so I asked him to play a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Paul Bettany, I worked with on Wimbledon. I asked him to do the voice, he never even saw the first movie, then he turned into Vision. And Clark Gregg turned into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's a little surreal to me, to be honest, how all these things that were just Nick Fury doing a post credits scene as an Easter egg for the fans turned into the foundation for the whole Avengers MCU thing."
Favreau looks forward to even more MCU appearances but couldn’t say if he’d ever direct another one. “We definitely love working together and we love these characters,” he said of Feige. "We talk about what it would be and we talk about The Freak storyline, which is a Happy Hogan storyline where he turns into a Hulk-like character. We joke about that, but no plans as of yet. “
A car commercial is MCU canon
When J.B. Smoove was cast in Far From Home, his character was not identified, which obviously led to speculation that he was playing a secret villain or some other familiar character. Well, he should be familiar to Spider-Man fans but not from the comics. His character, one of the teachers chaperoning the Midtown High students on their trip, was introduced as Peter’s driving instructor in a commercial released in 2017 as a Homecoming tie-in.
“The idea to cast J.B. Smoove actually came out of this great Audi commercial he did for the first movie,” Carroll confirmed. “We don't usually allow in-world content to be produced by partners, but we loved the pitch from Audi so much that when they told us J.B. was attached, we let them run with it, and we actually put it on the DVD because it's so funny. After the first movie, Kevin was like “J.B.’s gonna be in the next movie, I think."