After the game-changing events that Marvel Studios delivered in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the web-slinger's story is set to continue in a new trilogy from Marvel and Sony in the coming years. But while Spider-Man 4 will unquestionably bring back Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon and Zendaya's roles as Ned Leeds and MJ, respectively, are less certain.
Thanks to the forgetting spell that Doctor Strange completed at the end of the movie, neither Ned nor MJ know who Peter Parker is, and they have no memory of their relationships with him throughout and before high school. This sets up some intriguing potential storylines as Spider-Man anonymously makes his way through New York City, particularly with Batalon's Ned thanks to his comic history.
No Way Home teased the start of Ned's possible transformation into the evil Hobgoblin, a classic story from the comics that could become a reality as Spidey continues operating as New York's friendly neighborhood hero. Now, Batalon addressed the possibility of bringing back an evil take on Ned, which would bring an entirely new kind of hero vs. villain battle to the forefront in the MCU.
Jacob Batalon Teases Dark Turn for Ned Leeds
Speaking with Esquire, MCU star Jacob Batalon addressed the idea of playing an on-screen villain, which could potentially happen for him in Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures' Spider-Man 4.
While the actor wasn't asked about being a villain in the MCU specifically, Batalon admitted that he'd love the opportunity to play an antagonist at some point in his career.
He shared how much he "gravitated more towards really dark dramatic things" rather than more comedic themes, although he found new avenues into the latter with his role as Ned in the Spider-Man trilogy, along with his leading role in Reginald the Vampire.
Wrapping up, Batalon teased that a new role as a villain or someone else outside of his comfort zone is "in the works for sure:"
"You know, I'd love to. I feel like as an actor [when I was in drama school] I really gravitated more towards really dark dramatic things as opposed to comedy and things of like that nature but I found, you know. playing Ned and Reginald, it has sort of given me this light where I wasn’t seeing things so negatively and I wasn’t thinking so deeply or darkly about things... it’s a very light presence and it’s been a very positive effect on my life. So I feel like... I’m looking forward to doing a lot of other things, which you know people may not see me doing right now. But yeah, those things are in the works for sure."
When asked specifically about the Hobgoblin rumors in April 2022, Batalon used the classic Marvel actor technique of avoiding saying anything on the subject.
However, a couple of months later, Batalon posted a selfie on his Instagram story in which he held an action figure of the Hobgoblin, once again raising speculation that he will eventually play the role.
Will Ned Leeds Become the Hobgoblin?
Jacob Batalon has made a name for himself playing one of the funniest characters in the Spider-Man franchise, which continued to be the case in No Way Home as he interacted with that movie's past villains along with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield's Spider-Men. But now, he appears to be ready to take on a new kind of role as an actor, which might lead to him exploring a darker kind of character in the MCU.
At the moment, Spider-Man 4 remains almost completely under wraps, with no signs pointing to when it will even release in Marvel Studios' massive Multiverse Saga slate. And even with a number of potential antagonists that could give Spider-Man some trouble, almost none would be more emotional than Ned if he fights his former best friend.
For now, however, fans simply have to wait until Sony and Marvel bring the web-slinger back for another round of battles, which could be at any point in Phase 5 or Phase 6. No matter when that happens, Batalon bringing the Hobgoblin into play in Spider-Man 4 will be on many fans' radars as the MCU continues to evolve.