WARNING: Contains Avengers: Endgame spoilers
He may have taken on the might of Captain America at the behest of a cranky Iron Man and soared into space to fight universe-culling alien menace Thanos, but as the youngest Avenger, Queens native Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home is just sweet 16.
Far From Home is Tom Holland’s fifth appearance as the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU’s) favourite web-slinger, but at 23, he’s still younger than both his predecessors.
Tobey Maguire was 27 and Andrew Garfield 29 when they squeezed into the Spidey spandex.
The age gap helps Holland swing into first place. Infectiously energetic, he’s equal parts sweet and silly as a high schooler with a heavy weight heaped on his super-powered shoulders.
With the world still coming to terms with the apparent death of so many of their loved ones and their miraculous resurrection five years later, Peter’s bereavement remains.
An orphan raised by his spunky Aunt May (a magnificent Marisa Tomei) he lost a father figure after the heroic sacrifice of mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr).
This being the MCU and not the moody DC movies, in Spider-Man: Far From Home Peter is far from going off the rails.
He just wants to have fun on his school trip to Europe with equally dorky bestie Ned (Jacob Batalon) and pluck up the courage to ask MJ (pop star Zendaya) for a date.
Unfortunately for him, super-spy Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has other plans, press-ganging him into battling giant elemental monsters inconveniently terrorising the continent, with an assist from Stark’s right-hand man Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).
With the movie kicking off in Venice, rarely has Marvel staged such a spectacular showdown as Peter battles a watery giant in the city’s famous canals, with breathtaking fight choreography and camerawork to match.
Getting some help from a swarthy, bearded Jake Gyllenhaal’s Doctor Strange-style Quentin Beck, Peter’s classmates – caught up in the chaos – dub this newcomer Mysterio, as inspired by an excitable Italian newsreader.
Claiming he comes from an alternate reality (yep, anything’s possible in this brave new world), Beck pings Peter’s geek radar as well as offering consoling counsel.
With a noticeably bigger budget than Spider-Man: Homecoming, Far From Home’s returning director Jon Watts gets to stage a goofy teen take on the Bond movies as the action chases these elemental menaces from Venice to Prague, Berlin to the Netherlands, and on to London.
Heaps of fun, Spider-Man: Far From Home steps up the comic pace established by the Guardian of the Galaxy and Thor movies with bonus excruciating hormonal awkwardness, never more so than when Aunt May refers to his Spidey sense as “Peter’s tingle”.
Keep your ears peeled for an outrageously good/rude ejaculation joke too. Indeed, this high school romp’s riotous one liners land even faster than the punches, with Batalon facing stiff scene-stealing competition from Martin Starr and JB Smoove’s hapless teachers.
Peter and MJ’s halting advances are cute and the Aussies do well too, with Ladies in Black star Angourie Rice’s Betty dating Ned and Crazy Rich Asians’ Remy Hii as Peter’s love rival.
Their school may be out for summer, but Spider-Man: Far From Home is our perfect winter holiday highlight, a fabulous follow-up to the Infinity War/Endgame one-two punch.