Are you Marvel fans still waiting to see if Ned Leeds will become the Hobgoblin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Did anyone expect that in Spider-Man: No Way Home or at least a hint towards it? Well, if you’ve seen the movie (of course you have), you will know that it did. This is exciting for many reasons and if you really did see the movie, you’ll have an idea on what’s next. Just in case you haven’t just yet, just a little friendly warning, but I will be diving into very deep spoiler territory. If you don’t want to hear any, click away and please, I implore you, go watch the movie, because you’ll love it. At least I think you will, because I’m still processing everything that happened in it. For now, I want to emphasize on the future of Peter Parker’s best friend, Ned. So what about the funny and innocent Ned Leeds? In the comics, the character is the third man to take up the Hobgoblin alter ego and battle Spider-Man. However, he didn’t put on the outfit and ride the glider by choice. In fact, he was actually brainwashed when he was captured by Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin, as a stand-in/fall-out guy. So far, the MCU has been slowly building up to the comic accurate storyline of Ned Leeds. In Spider-Man: Far From Home, he began a relationship with Betty Brant, but they broke up by the end. In the comics, they were actually married and he and Peter Parker competed for her affections. When he was brainwashed into becoming the Hobgoblin, their marriage fell apart and Betty found solace in Flash Thompson.
I doubt we’ll be seeing something like this in the MCU, but I think I have an idea on what they’re up to. For those of you who have seen Spider-Man: No Way Home, just think about that conversation he had with Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker. When asked if he had a best friend, Tobey’s Peter mentioned how Harry Osborn died in his arms the same day he tried to kill him. As expected, this rang a bell in Ned’s head and he assured his Peter that he wouldn’t turn into a supervillain and try to kill him. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that certainly rings a bell for me. In my opinion, that’s foreshadowing for the impending arrival of the Hobgoblin. But hold on, what about Roderick Kingsley? Well, what about him? We were all wondering the same thing about Harry Osborn and Oscorp and according to Willem Dafoe’s alternate reality Norman Osborn, neither of those exist in the MCU. That’s a very big diversion from what we’re used to seeing in the Spider-Man mythos. So as of now, there’s no Osborn family or their company originally from the MCU. And with Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin now separated from Tom Holland’s Spider-Man’s universe, he’s in need of a new arch-enemy. Honestly, is there anyone else who would be more of a personal villain to him than his best friend? Oh, but it gets even better, because by the end of No Way Home, everyone in that world, including Ned and MJ, forgot who Peter was.
Now this is where the stage for Ned becoming the Hobgoblin has truly begun to set. Honestly, now Ned wouldn’t even need brainwashing to attack Peter as the Hobgoblin. Sure, he might still need it to become the villain, but that would mean that Roderick Kingsley would have to make his MCU debut. It all makes sense after what we’ve seen in No Way Home. There was never a Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin already in the MCU, but that didn’t matter after all. He’s without a doubt, the arch-enemy of Peter Parker and now that the MCU Peter has faced a Norman Osborn from another universe, he can fight another goblin. Only this time, this goblin can be his true arch-enemy and a personal one. Just imagine Ned being brainwashed into becoming the Hobgoblin and not knowing who Peter is. But Peter remembers everything and wouldn’t know how to reach him. That would make for a seriously emotional battle, even if Ned is brainwashed. In the comics, Ned is killed by a minor Spider-Man villain called The Foreigner. After that, there were some clones of Ned that Peter had to contend with, but the character’s overall time in comics was short. It’s obviously the exact opposite in the MCU, since Ned has become Peter’s closest supporting character. If this Ned’s story ends like the one from the comics, then Peter will be losing a best friend as well. Yes it’s tragic, but hey, that’s the life of Peter Parker for you.
But I’m actually wondering how Ned would even become the Hobgoblin. Yes, the brainwashing is a big part of it, but again, he would need Roderick Kingsley to do that to him. Think of him as the actual goblin villain of Spider-Man’s instead of the Green Goblin. It’s possible a portion of the goblin serum was left behind that Norman didn’t keep. In the comics, Roderick Kingsley tried searching Norman’s lair, where he inadvertently infected himself with the serum. This could happen in the MCU. What’s interesting about Kingsley is that he was also a successful businessman like Norman Osborn. The main difference between them is that Kingsley was a far more scheming and had no problem breaking the law to get what he wanted. Becoming the Hobgoblin only exacerbated these unethical tendencies. While not as prominent as the Green Goblin, the Hobgoblin became a serious thorn in Spider-Man’s side for a while. In fact, there were several other men who took up the mantle, but Roderick Kingsley was the first and most prominent. Having this villain in the MCU could very well set up Ned becoming another Hobgoblin. The best way they can do it is by having Ned be an unwilling stand-in for Kingsley and being tricked into fighting Peter. This will lead to all kinds of emotional and heartbreaking fighting between the two former friends. Would Ned’s story end in tragedy? Peter would do everything he could to prevent that, but things don’t always end well for him.
I think the stage is set for the debut of the Hobgoblin and I hope to see it soon. This could further mature and change Peter as he realizes his hardest battles will be with the ones he loves. That has become a never-ending cycle with the story of Spider-Man and it won’t change.