The cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming absolutely exploded with a whole lot of big name talent during production. But the producers also tapped some young, pretty unknown up-and-coming talent to fill some key roles. One such up-and-comer by the name of Jacob Batalon has literally never been seen on screen before, but will be in the movie and recently revealed that he is playing Ned Leeds.
Jacob Batalon made the reveal in an interview with the news channel KHON2 that he did recently. He drops Ned Leeds by name and also says that he will be playing Peter Parker's best friend in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Here is what he had to say.
"Well, Ned Leeds; I play Peter Parker's best friend in the film. We are both in high school; we are about fifteen. And it's just about Peter dealing with being a superhero and going through puberty. He still has to worry about homework. He still has to worry about his crush liking him, while trying to save someone who's probably in a burning building. He can't tell anyone, because he's not the cool kid, so he's just stuck with this really cool life that he can't tell anyone about."
Fans of the Spider-Man comics will surely perk up at the name Ned Leeds. For those unfamiliar, Ned Leeds was one of the characters in the comics who was associated with the villain Hobgoblin. That particular villain has a very complicated backstory, but basically, Ned Leeds is working as a reporter at The Daily Bugle and falls in love with Betty Brant (who is rumored to be played by Angourie Rice in Spider-Man: Homecoming). It is later revealed that Ned Leeds is actually the Hobgoblin (or is he?), one of Peter Parker's most formidable and deadly foes. Later in the comics, it is also revealed that a man named Roderick Kingsley was actually brainwashing Ned Leeds to believe he was the Hobgoblin so that Kingsley could use him as a scapegoat. After the false reveal was made by Kingsley that Ned Leeds was Hobgoblin, a character by the name of Foreigner kills Ned Leeds. Comic books get messy sometimes.
Since Jacob Batalon's version of Ned Leeds is only going to be about 15 in the movie, it isn't likely we are going to see Hobgoblin lobbing pumpkin bombs in Spidey's direction in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but they could be sowing the seeds for a Hobgoblin appearance down the line. Marvel Studios probably wouldn't make the setup and execution nearly as complex as it became in the comics, but having Ned Leeds present leaves the possibility there for the villain to appear. On the other hand, there are other versions of Ned Leeds in other Spider-Man continuities. The most likely for Marvel to draw from would be The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series, where the character goes by Ned Leeds and has a different ethnicity. He still has a crush on Betty Brant, but is more obsessed with figuring out Spider-Man's identity than anything else.
It is really tough to know what director Jon Watts and the rest of the creative team at Marvel have in store for this new Spider-Man franchise, but the Hobgoblin possibility is potentially very exciting. For now, we know that Spider-Man: Homecoming will feature Oscar nominee Michael Keaton as Vulture, the main villain this time around, as well as Bokeem Woodbine as Shocker. The rest of the cast includes Tom Holland, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr, Angourie Rice, Logan Marshall-Green, Donald Glover, Hannibal Buress, Tony Revolori, Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. Spider-Man: Homecoming is set for release on July 7, 2017. You can check out the interview clip with Jacob Batalon for yourself below.