Spider-Man Far From Home - Elemental

Who Are The Primary Villains?

In this film, the world is being plagued by four Elemental creatures: Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. Each one is based on an existing Spider-Man villain from the comics, and all of them are reinterpretations of those characters. You may have seen some early rumors that a B-list Spidey villain named Hydro Man was going to appear in this movie – the truth is that the Water Elemental, who’s reminiscent of a huge version of Sandman and can manipulate his size as long as he’s in a body of water, was only inspired by Hydro Man.

When we took a step back and started talking about the characters we wanted to bring to the big screen this time around, we decided that there were two levels of Spider-Man villain,” Carroll explained. “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, whether it’s what we did with Vulture in the last movie, we think that’s what makes one of these marquee Spider-Man villains. But there’s this other subset of Spider-Man villains that are awesome and 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.”

Far From Home Fire Elemental

The Fire Elemental is based on Molten Man, another B-level baddie. While his initial designs looked too close to the Balrog from The Lord of the Rings or Surtur from Thor: Ragnarok, they eventually settled on a look that incorporates the metallic yellow from the comics into this melting monster figure. Carroll explained why the Elementals were such an attractive prospect to the filmmakers from a storytelling perspective:

“[Spidey] can’t web this guy. He can’t punch this guy. So how does he beat this guy? He has to use his real superpower, which is his genius-level intellect. So we thought that was a really fun ‘in’ here, to take these characters that keep putting Spider-Man in interesting positions where we guarantee ourselves it’s not going to be just two guys punching each other until one guy passes out. The idea of bringing these four Elemental creatures together is something we got excited about, and we get to play with these characters who would probably never get brought to the big screen in any other way.”

The production team didn’t give us any early peeks at the designs for the Earth or Air Elementals, and they’d only tease that those two are also inspired by B-level comic characters of the same tier as Hydro Man and Molten Man. Feel free to speculate away about who they could be. (Maybe Man Mountain Marko and Will o’ the Wisp?)

The movie kicks off with Fury and Hill in Mexico as they investigate the aftermath of an Elemental event, and the story spans tons of different countries throughout: we briefly see the kids in New York City, they travel to Venice (where Peter becomes involved in the Water Elemental attack I described earlier), and then roll on to Prague (where he’ll encounter the Fire Elemental), Berlin, and the Netherlands (expect to see Spider-Man running through tulips). The movie climaxes in London.

Far From Home Spider-Man Stealth Suit

The Stealth Suit

In a world in which toy sales are arguably as important as box office numbers, it’s a given that in each new superhero movie, the heroes are going to get new costumes. Typically they just involve slight upgrades, but for much of Far From Home, Peter rocks a whole new look.

Carroll explains what happens during Peter’s first briefing with Fury in Venice. “Peter Parker pulls Nick aside and says, ‘Listen man, I really want to help. It sounds like you’re really up against it. But there’s gotta be somebody else you can call, and besides, last time I went on a field trip, Spider-Man showed up and saved the day. Don’t you think somebody’s going to connect the dots? My secret identity is important to me. If this guy shows up, saves the day, somebody’s going to do the math. I really want to help you, but it seems like you’ve got everyone you need anyway, so if you don’t mind…’ and Nick Fury is like, ‘I totally understand.’ He’s like, ‘You do? That’s great!’ So he thinks he’s off the hook and he takes off.”

But the next morning, Fury gives Peter the Stealth Suit, a black tactical costume that looks more like a S.H.I.E.L.D. uniform than the colorful suit he’s used to wearing from Tony Stark.

“It’s inspired by a bunch of different looks in the comics,” Carroll says. “We have Noir, we have Big Time, but when [Marvel Studios’ head of visual development] Ryan Meinerding was designing this, he had all of those past S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in mind, so it’s very reminiscent of what Black Widow or Hawkeye would wear. It’s got amazing little details. This would be the patch where there would be a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo if S.H.I.E.L.D. were still a thing, stuff like that. This is supposed to be a really tactical version of the suit. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the suit Tony gave him. But that’s OK, it allows him to operate in Europe without everyone just assuming Spider-Man’s on the scene.”

“The one thing he asks for them to keep were his goggles, because they help him focus his heightened senses,” Carroll continues. “Because it’s Spider-Man and we thought this was so cool, Jon Watts really wanted to find a way to make it less cool, so he gave him these cheesy flip-up versions of the Spider-Man goggles, like those ‘80s glasses. He has to operate them manually, there’s no cool mechanism. It’s so funny because we sent the design off to costumes and props, and of course the first design they sent us was awesome, like an Iron Man helmet. We’re like, ‘No, that’s the point – dumber. It’s gotta look really dumb when he flips it up.’ So we have a lot of fun with that, where he’s talking to really imposing-looking characters and has to flip this up to talk to them.”

Far From Home Spider-Man Peter and MJ

Unexpected Obstacles (Plus: The Vulture is Not in This Movie)

In addition to the obvious conflicts between Spider-Man and the Elementals, there are a few other obstacles he’ll need to overcome.

On the Peter Parker side of the equation, Peter spends much of the movie trying to woo MJ, who has a much bigger role in this sequel after her scene-stealing appearance in Homecoming. Peter gets a piece of jewelry made for her, and he carries it around trying to work up the courage to give it to her. But stepping in to ruin his romantic pursuit is a new character named Brad, played by actor Remy Hii.

“He is the kind of guy that guys like me and Peter hated in high school,” Carroll explains, “because their hair always looked [great], their clothes always fit the way they were supposed to, he always had 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 to keep that 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 really as important as the superhero. It was this winning combination of taking what people loved about Archie and throwing it into a superhero comic. We wanted to keep that alive and introducing the character of Brad is a fun way to do that. Again, he’s not the stereotypical bully, but he is an obstacle. He’s not mean-spirited, he doesn’t pick on Peter or shove him in lockers. He just happens to make the girl that Peter likes laugh a lot, which makes Peter uncomfortable.”

Although Peter’s a superhero, he’s still a teenager – which means he’s not immune to the combination of jealousy and stupidity. Throw in some weapons-grade technology that Peter has access to (thanks to his dealings with Nick Fury), and you get a scene where things go wrong. “Basically, he tries to make Brad look bad and almost blows up his bus by launching some weaponized drones that the spy team has access to,” Carroll says sheepishly, as if he’s embarrassed on behalf of this fictional character. I’m pretty sure we saw those drones laying in a corner of one of the sound stages during our visit: they’re round and outfitted with guns on their sides, which make them look like something out of RoboCop or the Tom Cruise sci-fi movie Oblivion.

“At the end of the day, it’s always about saving people and doing the right thing,” Tom Holland tells us during a break from shooting. “The world is at risk in this film. I feel like The Vulture was sort of low-level crime, it was under the radar, not many people knew about it. But this is a worldwide event. So the stakes are much higher for [Peter], and he understands that, meaning he has to really show up and bring his A game. But 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. But that all gets ruined. Brad gets in the way.”

Spider-Man Far From Home Details

On the Spider-Man side of the equation, Peter has to deal with a man who’s theoretically on his side: Nick Fury. The veteran spy has learned how to maneuver through a morally complex world, and his outlook clashes with Peter’s wide-eyed naivety. “I don’t think Nick Fury draws a line anywhere,” Watts says over the phone. “I think he operates in a professional grey zone. But from the very beginning, I wanted to get Nick Fury and Spider-Man in the same room together. That was one of the elements of my original pitch to Marvel. If Tony [Stark] is the cool rich uncle, Fury’s more like the mean new stepdad. To put him up against this idealistic, fresh-faced young kid, I think is going to be a really fun thing to watch.”

One of the things that is a timeless theme in these coming of age movies is why do adults operate in the grey?” Carroll elaborates. “Spider-Man’s like, ‘This is easy. Let’s just do the right thing!’ Or ‘Let’s just tell people what’s going on, and everything will be OK!’ and Nick Fury’s like, ‘That’s not how the world works, kid.’ So he just gets wrapped up in this spy adventure being driven by Nick Fury and sort of feeling more and more caught in the middle between how he wants to operate and how he’s been told he should operate.”

Later that day, I asked a question about the Stealth Suit, and Carroll provided some more insight into Peter and Fury’s relationship: “He is given it not long after he crosses paths with the Water Elemental, and 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. But it is a big part of the movie and it is what he’s wearing for more or less the entire second act of the movie.”

Far From Home Spider-Man handshake

And what about Mysterio? How is he connected to all of this? “He’s got a mystical slant in this one,” Carroll says. “That’s why he is on the team. He’s got a working history with these Elementals, and his power is tied to something similar.” If Peter ends up butting heads with Fury so strongly that he abandons the Stealth Suit, does that mean Fury could be turning heel? Could Fury even be a Skrull, perhaps? Is Mysterio secretly controlling the Elementals the whole time? OK, enough speculation: let’s get back to the facts.

Speaking of facts: an early report claimed that Michael Keaton would be coming back to reprise his role as The Vulture in this sequel, but Carroll tells us it’s not true.

“He’s not [in the film]. We literally don’t know where that came from. It showed up on IMDb one day and I was like, ‘What is this? Does anyone know what this is about?’ I think [someone] showed me the article, and he’s like, ‘Everyone on the internet is talking about how he’s in the movie right now.’ We don’t know how that rumor started. We adored Michael Keaton’s take on the character and definitely kept him in mind when we were writing it, but once we went down this path, all our ideas to include him started to feel like, ‘Are they just shoehorning him in because he’s a great actor and wanted to work with him one more time?’…We [also] teased the Scorpion [in Homecoming’s post-credits scene]. He is not in this movie. Nor is Michael Mando.”

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