Ned Leeds may become the Hobgoblin in a story set after Spider-Man: No Way Home, but if it follows the comics, Ned won’t truly turn evil.
Caution: Major spoilers ahead for Spider-Man: No Way Home
Ned Leeds’s potential future as the villainous Hobgoblin is humorously hinted at in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but the Spider-Man comic source material prevents him from truly adopting the villainous mantle. The Spider-Man Homecoming trilogy’s version of Ned Leeds, who blends elements of the classic Marvel Comics character with the more modern Ganke Lee from Marvel’s Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man stories, may become a reimagined version of the Hobgoblin someday, a development that the film foreshadows in significant and small ways. In the comics, however, Leeds was never the real Hobgoblin, which may be promising news for fans of the MCU character wondering, “is Ned the Hobgoblin?”
Norman Osborn, the first user of the Green Goblin title, is Spider-Man’s ultimate nemesis and easily one of the two most dangerous supervillains in Marvel Comics, alongside Doctor Doom. Norman Osborn was believed to be dead for years, however, and the corrupt corporate executive Roderick Kingsley used a modified Goblin formula—which made him even stronger but lacked the insanity side effect—and redesigned Goblin gear to become the Hobgoblin. Kingsley wasn’t quite as dangerous as the Marvel villain Green Goblin/Norman Osborn, but he was one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes for decades.
But is Ned the Hobgoblin? The Hobgoblin’s true identity was a mystery for quite some time in the comics, with Ned Leeds famously being revealed as the ghoulish villain, only for the 1998 miniseries, Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives, to retroactively set the record straight. Leeds was one of several false Hobgoblins. Kingsley protected himself and his identity by hiring goons and body doubles to wear the costume, often in short-lived and fatal stints as the villain. In Leeds’s case, Kingsley brainwashed him into posing as the Hobgoblin, meaning that perhaps the MCU won’t have its version of Leeds truly turn evil.
Why The MCU’s Ned Leeds Will Be A Different Hobgoblin
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, when speaking to Tobey Maguire’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (nicknamed “Peter-Two”), Ned learned that the Peter Parker variant’s best friend, Harry Osborn, had become the New Goblin and tried to kill him, only to find fleeting redemption and end up dying in his arms. The revelation disturbed Leeds, prompting him to promise Tom Holland’s Peter Parker (“Peter-One”) that he’d never turn into a supervillain and try to kill him, in a simultaneously heartfelt and humorous moment. Despite this, the film does provide some additional foreshadowing. So is Ned Leeds the Hobgoblin? The answer might be a little more complex after all.
Throughout No Way Home, Leeds wears a Midtown High School outfit that combines yellow and blue in a way that resembles a color-reversed Hobgoblin outfit. Leeds also displays aptitude in magic use, wielding a sling ring and creating portals to assist his friends. Without an Oscorp (and perhaps without a Norman Osborn) in the MCU, Leeds may be a significantly different iteration of the Hobgoblin should he eventually adopt the moniker.
No Way Home also ends with Leeds’s memories of Peter Parker being removed by Doctor Strange’s reality-altering spell, making the possibility of him becoming an enemy of Peter’s far more likely. With a natural aptitude for magic and his friendship with Parker now gone, it’s easier to imagine Leeds’ eventual transformation into the macabre villain. If a Spider-Man: No Way Home sequel follows the comics, however, Leeds will have kept his promise, only becoming the Hobgoblin as a proxy for an MCU version of Roderick Kingsley.
When Could Hobgoblin Make His MCU Debut?
The future of a Hobgoblin Ned Leeds twist is uncertain at the moment. There have been no recent updates about the next MCU Spider-Man project; 2022’s San Diego Comic-Con offered no teases about Spider-Man Homecoming 4 or any other movies and shows featuring the characters made immensely popular by Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Jacob Batalon. Even if Ned features in the animated Spider-Man: Freshman Year, the series will track an early-years Spidey and isn’t set up to offer many pointers as to a potential Ned Leeds’ Hobgoblin transformation. There are plans for a second trilogy, however, but without any confirmation of where it falls on the slate or Spider-Man‘s MCU timeline, audiences may have to wait until 2026 or beyond to find out what happens to Ned Leeds after Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Next: So, How Will Spider-Man Fit Into The MCU’s Multiverse Saga?
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