Spider-Man: No Way Home is here. The final part of the Homecoming trilogy is full of fun nods, massive surprises, and unexpected treats. But one of the most delightful twists concerned Peter’s best bud, Ned Leeds (Jacob Batalon). If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading now. But if you’re ready to dig into those spoilers, then get Ned-y for some deep dive comics fun!
So Ned Didn’t Turn into the Hobgoblin?
That’s the good news! While we—and many fans— wondered whether Ned would be following his comic book canon by becoming the Hobgoblin, that did not occur. It was a big relief as Ned is one of the purest characters in the MCU. While he didn’t turn evil, he did have a massive character reveal. As Ned explains to Doctor Strange, his grandma always thought he was magic, and sometimes his hands tingle. While Stephen dismisses Ned at first, the young hero soon shows that he’s actually innately powerful. How do we know this? Well, it all comes down to the stolen Sling Ring that Peter thwipped off Strange during their Mirror World battle.
As MJ and Ned chill at his grandma’s house waiting for Peter, they begin to worry. Ned fools around with the Sling Ring while saying he wishes he could see his friend. Of course, his call to see Peter Parker ends up opening portals to Andrew Garfield’s Peter and Tobey Maguire’s Peter. That’s some powerful magic, especially without any training. Later, Ned actually opens a portal that allows Doctor Strange to come through during the final fight. So yes, you could argue that Ned actually saved the day and the world with his newly found magic powers.
Did Ned Ever Have Magic Powers in the Comics?
Well, this is where it gets really interesting. Ned Leeds in the comics is a very different figure than MCU Ned. We’ve written about his history as the villain known as the Hobgoblin. But MCU Ned is actually far more influenced by Miles Morales’ best friend from the comics, Ganke Lee. Just like Ned, Ganke is the man in the chair and shares all of Peter’s struggles and strife. However, now that Ned some Sorcerer Supreme-esque powers, we get another proper bit of Ned Leeds comic book canon. While he was brainwashed to commit crimes as the Hobgoblin, he also became the apprentice of a very famous Marvel magic user: Baron Mordo.
During the Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality miniseries, Ned steals a book of magic from Doctor Strange. It allows Mordo to change reality. In the new status quo, Mordo is the Sorcerer Supreme and Ned serves as his assistant. So while Ned didn’t become Hobgoblin in the MCU, his new powers feel reminiscent of the comics where Ned Leeds held the mantle. While it didn’t last long, Ned was for a time part of the world of the Sorcerers Supreme, which we’re seeing play out on screen.
What Could Happen Next Now We Know Ned Can Do Magic?
Luckily, we think that for now Ned is going to stay the pure and loving kid we know. But the fact he’s magical has not gone unnoticed by Strange. So, although Ned is headed off to MIT, we think we could see him trained by Strange or Wong in the future. We know a huge battle is ahead for the MCU and Wong is recruiting an army of heroes. And if that’s the case then surely Ned will be a part of the fight? This was honestly one of the most exciting parts of Spider-Man: No Way Home and we can’t wait to see what they do next.