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Before you see Spider-Man: Far from Home, read this

Over the last couple of decades, we've all gotten used to seeing reboots of Spider-Man on a fairly regular basis. Toby Maguire's Peter Parker faced down the Green Goblin at the turn of the century, Andrew Garfield's pair of Amazing Spider-Man films followed a decade later, and the 2018 masterpiece Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse followed after that. One way or another, the world seems to never be able to get enough of the Crime-stopper from Queens.

Perhaps the most popular rendition of them all, though — at least in recent years — has been Tom Holland's young, fun-loving portrayal of the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ever since he swung onto the scene in Captain America: Civil War, Holland's Spidey has been a fan favorite as he's become increasingly more entangled in the affairs of the Avengers. Now that Thanos is a pile of dust and much of the original team is dead or retired, though, one wonders what's next for the web-head as he heads back into action and looks for a return to normalcy in his second MCU solo film. We've got all the answers you're looking for with this look at everything you need to know before watching Spider-Man: Far from HomeSpoilers ahead!

The shadow of Endgame

It's easy to hype up any Marvel movie on its own merits. However, one of the most compelling things about Spider-Man: Far from Home is inevitably going to be how Marvel chooses to handle their first film after the incredibly disruptive events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. In fact, the only two films to come out since Infinity War were Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel, both of which largely took place before Thanos snapped his fingers for the first time — with the exception of their end credit scenes, of course.

While the snap may have been reversed in Endgame thanks to Smart Hulk's noble sacrifice, the galaxy-altering events of the third and fourth Avengers films still had an astronomical effect. Fans have been trying to piece everything together ever since the films were released, but Far from Home will be the first time Marvel really shows us what the MCU looks like after the Infinity Saga. While Peter Parker's latest solo outing will certainly be a fun trip all on its own, the Endgame connection and its various repercussions can only add further fuel to fan anticipation.

Five years later

One of the biggest effects that Endgame had on the MCU was the way the story suddenly jumped five years into the future. It's easy to lose sight of it while you're watching, but for all of the time travel that went on in Endgame, when the credits finally rolled, the "present" in the MCU is still five years ahead of where it was when the movie started.

Not only that, but co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo have confirmed that the time jump means those who were "un-snapped" ended up five years younger than everyone that survived. The ramifications of this removal and then reinsertion of half of the living beings in the entire universe is difficult to even begin to fathom. Younger siblings would suddenly be older siblings, spouses may have moved on and remarried, and so on.

As far as Peter Parker and his gang, though, it appears from the Spider-Man: Far from Home trailers that many of his closest friends and classmates happen to have been extremely fortunate — or maybe we should say not so fortunate — as they still seem to still be around the same age, which indicates that they were probably all dusted together. Thanks to the above-referenced interview, we at least know that best pals Ned and Peter were both snapped and will consequently still be the same age going into Far from Home.

The multiverse

While five-year time jumps are going to be difficult enough to reconcile as it is, perhaps the biggest can of worms that Endgame opened up was the concept of time travel and the multiverse. It was already difficult to contain the effects of time travel and the various branch realities that could be created within the plot of Endgame on its own. Now that we're moving forward, though, the possibility of traveling through time and the various rifts and alterations it can create could begin to make MCU continuity start to feel a little bit like herding cats.

Not that the idea seems to have kept the folks at Marvel up at night. They're steering right into the skid, as their promotional material has made clear. In the trailer for Far from Home they've come right out and explained that Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio, is from another Earth — and arrived through a hole that was torn in our heroes' dimension after the snap. The hard left into the multiverse concept is impressive. The question is, though, will it hold up this many years into a universe that has barely sniffed at any of these concepts up until now?

The potential difficulties are so immense that it has even led some to suggest the possibility that perhaps the entire multiverse plot twist is just a lie cooked up by Mysterio, the MCU's newest trickster.

Don't trust what you see…

And with that, it's officially time to introduce Marvel's newest hero. No, wait, villain? Quentin Beck's entrance into the Spider-Man franchise is a new development that should yield rewards for a long time to come. Historically, Beck has been a master of illusion and misdirection, which has made him one of the more fascinating villains to ever grace Marvel's canon — obviously, the bright colors and fishbowl helmet helped, too. The thing is, Beck is well-known as one of Marvel's classic antagonists, while the trailers are clearly spinning him as more of a hero. Common sense would dictate that the promotional footage is simply warming up a character that loves to fool others and will ultimately be revealed as a villain.

The only thing is, Marvel and Disney have become quite good at the ol' promotional misdirect themselves, with multiple trailers that have misled or outright lied to fans. When you consider that Marvel also basically rewrote the entire script on the Skrulls in Captain Marvel, flipping them from antagonists to protagonists, it makes the entire Mysterio situation an enigma that may remain unresolved until the end of the film… if not longer.

It's Elemental

We don't know yet whether the Mysterio of the MCU will turn out to be a villain in the long run, but we do know why he crosses paths with Peter Parker in the first place: the looming threat of the Elementals. A trio of destructive beings wreaking havoc on Earth, the Elementals are each bestowed with, well, elemental power — one drawing on water, one using fire, and another using earth. According to a ScreenRant set report, Far from Home will reveal the origins of these new additions to Spidey's rogues' gallery, and there's also evidence to suggest that they're tied in some way to the classic comics villains Sandman, Molten Man, and Hydro-Man. Of course, it's easy to assume that Mysterio is really behind the whole thing, but however the story ends up breaking down, it's obvious that Spider-Man will have his webs full when it comes to bad guys in this chapter.

Nearly Spider-Man

Quentin Beck's story promises to be fascinating, regardless of the direction that Marvel goes with the character — not least because Marvel chose the immensely talented Jake Gyllenhaal to play the part. Gyllenhaal's acting should bring added depth and personality to a character who — whether he's really a hero or is ultimately revealed to be a villain — clearly has numerous layers.

What makes the entire situation that much more interesting is the fact that, once upon a time, Gyllenhaal himself was very nearly cast as Spider-Man. Director Sam Raimi considered a laundry list of different A-list actors to play the role in his Spider-Man trilogy, but Gyllenhaal came tantalizingly close to taking over after Toby Maguire sustained a back injury between the first and second films. While Maguire ultimately kept the role, the fact that Gyllenhaal is finally playing a part in a Spider-Man movie has to feel pretty good — even if it's not the role he was originally gunning for.

Toning things down

While the trailers for Far from Home promise a hefty dose of action and espionage, the movie's likely to represent a significant step down from the high-stakes action that took over the MCU in recent installments. Ant-Man and the Wasp was fairly tame in its scope and, quite literally, its size, but the third and fourth Avengers movies — and Captain Marvel — were anything but small. All three were cosmic affairs, and the Avengers films, in particular, were loaded with nonstop action, massive fight scenes, and heady concepts.

Spider-Man: Far from Home will to deliberately take a step back and tone things down. While it's been reported that the film is going to pick up just minutes after the end of Endgame, studio chief Kevin Feige has clarified that it'll signal a tonal departure from the high-stakes madness that unfolded in the fight against Thanos. The change in tone will likely be a welcome shift after the emotional roller coaster that preceded it.

The new Iron Man?

There will never be another Tony Stark, and not even Spider-Man could actually replace Iron Man. But while Peter Parker isn't likely to suit up in Tony's Mark LXXXV Armor anytime soon, it still looks like the MCU is angling to have Spider-Man fill an important need following Stark's death in Endgame. Parker has typically been portrayed as a younger character both in print and onscreen, and the idea of him looking up to a mentor or wanting to impress other superheroes is hardly a new concept. In the MCU, in particular, Iron Man has always been the hero that has stood tallest in Parker's eyes, beginning all the way back in Iron Man 2.

So Parker is extremely unlikely to ever become Iron Man. But it seems likely that he'll be called on to step into the gap left by Stark's death. The move would be a natural one, considering their past history, and would make for good storytelling as Parker processes his loss and is faced with some of the less savory elements of the superhero life.

A spider suit built for the bathroom

Far from Home promises to introduce a new influx of Spidey suits that should be both entertaining and seriously awesome. While we already know from the trailers that we'll get to see Stark's Iron Spider armor, there have also been hints of a "webbed wings" upgrade as well as an entirely black stealth suit. Interestingly, the stealth suit has quite a bit of history behind its development. For one thing, it's a S.H.I.E.L.D.-inspired outfit that takes quite a bit of inspiration from past agents' uniforms — including Black Widow's and Hawkeye's sleek threads.

In addition, executive producer Eric Carroll has explained that, while the suit was originally pretty high-tech, they ended up dumbing it down quite a bit. The reason? It was too high-powered — the filmmakers ended up making it "less cool" in order to better fit Parker's character. When you see him flipping up those goggles by hand, know that it's absolutely on purpose. 

Tom Holland's favorite thing about the suit? It makes it a lot easier for the poor guy to use the bathroom between takes.

Rights issues

It's no secret that Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man… along with quite a few of the other characters that the character interacts with on a regular basis. In fact, there was a harrowing moment in 1999 when Marvel actually offered, in effect, nearly all of its existing characters to Sony for a paltry sum. While Sony only nabbed the rights to Spidey and friends, the webhead was still sorely missed when the MCU took off in earnest.

Finally, in 2015, Sony and Marvel struck a deal that allowed Peter Parker to show up in multiple MCU films. It's possible that the deal might be up after Far from Home, which leaves an interesting question mark at the end of Parker's adventures abroad. Will this be the last we see of the crimefighting spider in the MCU? Or will Sony and Marvel hammer out a new agreement that allows Holland's Parker to co-exist alongside Sony's own Spider-Man-centric world?

The question is a big one, as Marvel seems to be positioning Parker to be an important character in the MCU going forward. Is the new move building towards a future that heavily incorporates Spider-Man, or is it simply a classic bait and switch, and we're all going to need to bid a fond farewell to Spidey by the time the credits roll?

The end of Phase 3

Whether or not Peter Parker's still in it, the MCU is certainly going to have a future beyond Far from Home. Recently introduced characters like Captain Marvel and Black Panther have had wildly successful debuts and their sequels, along with quite a few other things, are coming down the pike as Phase 4 of the MCU unfolds.

While Spider-Man: Far from Home was initially believed to mark the beginning of that future, it turns out Spidey's sequel is actually serving as an endcap for Phase 3. The announcement caught fans by surprise, but it kind of makes sense, historically speaking. While the first phase ended with an Avengers movie, in the second phase Avengers: Age of Ultron was the penultimate film while the much humbler Ant-Man served as the final installment. With Avengers: Endgame in the second to last spot for Phase 3, it's only fitting that Marvel would pull back, tone things down, and end on a calmer note, this time with an arachnid rather than an ant.

The last of the MCU... for a while

Spider-Man: Far from Home won't only serve as the last movie in Phase 3, it'll also be the last time a Marvel movie is released for nearly a year. Far from Home swings into theaters on July 2, 2019, and the next Marvel movie on the docket has a release date of May 1, 2020. That's 304 days without a new Marvel movie — a long drought, and one that will feel particularly harsh after getting multiple MCU installments every year for a while now.

The good news is, once the Endgame/Spider-Man dust finally settles, we're likely to get quite a bit more info on what's coming, which will at least give us all something more substantial to look forward to. In addition, the soon-to-launch Disney+ streaming service will likely help fill in some of the gaps. Fans who plan on subscribing should be able to get a bit of a fix in some way or another, whether that's through watching past Marvel movies or indulging in the coming plethora of various limited series that Marvel is producing for the platform. Whatever the case, make sure to enjoy Far from Home once it hits theaters — it'll be our last chance to enjoy a new MCU chapter on the big screen for quite a while.