The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been known for taking plenty of liberties with comic book source material in order to suit the needs of the franchise, and that definitely applies to Spider-Man‘s Ned Leeds. The character first debuted in 1964 as one of Peter Parker’s colleagues at the Daily Bugle and the husband of Betty Brant, but his live-action counterpart is almost unrecognizable.
Jacob Batalon’s Ned wasn’t even given an official surname until after Spider-Man: Homecoming was released on home video, but his version is an amalgamation of Ned Leeds, Harry Osborn and the Ultimate line’s Ganke Lee, in that he’s Peter’s best friend and closest confidant but also one of the franchise’s main sources of comic relief.
Batalon has been a reliable highlight of the MCU‘s Spider-Man movies so far, but a new report from tipster Mikey Sutton claims that he could soon be turning to the dark side as the slow build begins to him finally assuming the mantle of Hobgoblin. As the insider explains:
Leeds will gradually change, and not just physically. The build-up to the Hobgoblin will be gradual, his destiny fulfilled once he and Parker are in college so this’ll be after Spider-Man 3. Batalon and Tom Holland are going to be slightly older, and Leeds’ slow transformation will reflect how friendships can change in the transition from high school to college.
In the comic books, Ned was the third person to become the villain, and with Marvel largely relying on bad guys that audiences have never seen before, it would make sense to eventually have him be an antagonist. The 24 year-old actor has recently lost an impressive amount of weight, too, and Hobgoblin has been rumored for the Spider-Man franchise ever since his character’s last name was confirmed. But as Sutton emphasizes above, it’ll likely be a slow-burning storyline that won’t happen until at least the fourth movie when Peter and Ned have finally made it to college.
In any case, we’ve already had two versions of the Green Goblin, so if the studio are going down that route again, then it makes sense that they’d seek to utilize the other Goblin at their disposal instead.