New phase, new rules. Spider-Man: Far From Home has been marketed very heavily as the final piece of the Avengers: Endgame puzzle, but, along with Captain Marvel, it marks the beginning of a new era. He might have a home at Sony rather than Disney, but Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s most loved properties; plus the franchise has plenty of mileage thanks to its leading hero’s youth. He’s also lining up to take his mentor Iron Man’s place in a significant and ballsy choice by studio-juggling Marvel HQ. All perhaps reasons why Far From Home decided to break from the MCU’s traditional storytelling and drop a couple of hugely consequential developments in the credits, going way further than any of the MCU’s stingers have gone before. If it isn’t obvious yet, consider this the sound of your spoiler klaxon going off.
The mid-credit sequence is, frankly, massive. In swift succession we get a brief development of Peter and MJ’s brand new romance, the welcome return of JK Simmons’s antagonistic newsman J Jonah Jameson to the franchise, the complication that Spidey is going to be set up to be the bad guy and—the big one—the revelation of Spider-Man’s secret identity. Next to this, a resurrected Loki popping up to whisper in Erik Selvig’s ear is practically cryptic. Yes, it landed brilliantly and yes, I loved it. But I can’t remember a time the MCU packed this much into a brief tag. There is simply no way to approach the next chapter of the Spidey story without seeing this sequence, and given I attend numerous opening weekend showings where people still don’t wait around, that’s going to be lost on some of the more casual audience. Presumably it’ll pop up in the trailers, but it still marks a notable change in what Marvel is prepared to reveal outside the core runtime.
While you’re still reeling from that, Far From Home doubles down with a solid helping of WTF, when it’s revealed that—at least for the duration of this film—Nick Fury and Maria Hill have actually been Skrulls in disguise (our mate Talos from Captain Marvel, no less). To deliver a discovery of this size at the very end of the credits could force a retcon of every film set after 1995 in which Fury has appeared. While it’s probably best read as suggesting that Fury occasionally asks a little assistance of his shape-shifting friends, it still feels rather cheap to suddenly drop the curtain in such an abrupt manner. The MCU is fond of delivering tonal shifts in its tags, particularly where it protects the feel of the individual franchise (think of the sombre Endgame setups for Thor: Ragnarok and Ant Man and The Wasp), but it’s not generally in the habit of unpicking the entire preceding film, and potentially many more, in the very last two minutes.
With all that in mind, it looks like anyone wondering if Marvel is running out of ways to reinvent the MCU may have to get ready to eat their words.