Peter Parker’s best friend Ned Leeds has always been one of the highlights of the MCU Spider-Man movies, and will return in the upcoming threequel. What’s in store for him remains unknown, but some new fan art has now imagined how actor Jacob Batalon might look after taking up the mantle of the Hobgoblin.
The image is the creation of artist Arkin Tyagi, who has an extensive back catalogue of speculative casting that includes D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Cillian Murphy as Doctor Doom and Antony Starr as Venom. Although Ned isn’t wearing a mask, his features seem to have been contorted by exposure to something unpleasant, while the glowing red eyes add a touch of malevolence to the look.
While Ned’s a character from the comics, he was originally a reporter colleague of Peter’s at the Daily Bugle whose purpose was to serve as a rival for Betty Brant’s affections. He eventually becomes the third face behind the mask of the Hobgoblin, but only after being brainwashed in case a scapegoat was needed, and is ultimately murdered because of it. Despite the difference in characterization, Batalon has regularly made it clear that he would love the opportunity to play the masked maniac, and this combined with the significant weight loss he recently revealed has led to speculation that he’s being set up as a rider of the Goblin Glider.
It’s unlikely Ned will take up a villain role in the next film, though, since it’s already set to feature Doctor Octopus and Electro, and it would be hoped that lessons have been learned from a certain other third entry in a Spider-Man series about the dangers of saturating a story with too many antagonists.
In any case, the Hobgoblin was always intended as an imitation of the Green Goblin, who despite being one of Spidey’s primary nemeses has yet to appear in the MCU. Perhaps waiting until after Spider-Man 3, then, would allow Ned to rise as the villain more organically.