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Will Ned and MJ Return for Spider-Man 4?

Spider-Man: No Way Home, MJ, Ned
By Tom Drew

Spider-Man: No Way Home is officially out in theaters, setting Tom Holland's Peter Parker, Jacob Batalon's Ned Leeds, and Zendaya's MJ on their biggest adventure together yet. In bringing together past villains from the Multiverse and celebrating the web-slinger's tenure on the big screen, the Tom Holland-led threequel has shattered box office records and satisfied fans' dreams worldwide.

With the film finally out in the open, speculation has run rampant on everything No Way Home brought to the table. From the confusing post-credits sequence to the prospects of a certain symbiote crossing paths with a certain wall-crawler, there is a lot to dissect.

Much like Spider-Man: Far From Home before it, the Multiversal threequel ends on an absolute bombshell, sending ripples that affect the entirety of the MCU's history.

The ending also raises questions about how Peter Parker progresses from here in an inevitable fourth film, particularly in regards to how his best buds will be involved.

Will Ned and MJ Return?

Spider-Man, Ned, MJ
Marvel

Warning: The rest of this article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The world has all but forgotten Peter Parker's existence by the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which includes his best friends Ned Leeds and MJ Watson. With Peter out of their lives, it seems like the two are on an upward trajectory as both characters are set to embark on the next chapter of their lives at MIT.

Peter formulates a speech to reveal his identity once again, but chooses not to interrupt their newfound lives and leaves them be. Even though Peter promised to come find them and tell them the truth, it seems as though the web-slinger is comfortable with starting from scratch -- at least for now.

Because Peter Parker wouldn't ditch his friends forever...would he?

A New Cast of Spider-Man Characters

Spider-Man No Way Home characters
Marvel

Peter Parker's clean slate going into Spider-Man 4 gives the character the opportunity to really become the comic book webhead that many viewers have been waiting for. Having no attachment to any other characters allows Peter to form new bonds with long-requested characters like Gwen Stacy, Black Cat, Harry Osborn, Miles Morales, and more, where there isn't any past history that might make Peter look like a weirdo.

Gwen Stacy has quickly risen in popularity thanks to recent comic runs and her theatrical debut in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and would make for a perfect new ally and love interest for Peter going forward. Peter has yet to meet any fellow web-slingers that have originated from his Earth, so bringing in Spider-Gwen would give him someone to swing around with. It would also make for a unique relationship dynamic to differentiate from what Peter and MJ had, due to both characters having to balance superheroing with their personal lives.

Similarly, Black Cat is another potential love interest that could be incorporated in MJ's stead, putting Peter's relationship status in a riskier position. If the symbiote from the post-credits sequence does get involved with Peter Parker, his looser moral compass may allow him to get entangled with a more villainous character.

Since Norman Osborn has now been introduced to Peter, the web-slinger might go off to seek the scientist out to keep tabs on his universe's version of Willem Dafoe's character. As Oscorp doesn't exist in the MCU, it's possible that Norman may be living a regular life in this world. Seeking out his former villain may lead to Peter crossing paths with Norman's son Harry, allowing Spider-Man to gain a new best friend.

Then there is, of course, Miles Morales, who was conveniently teased by Electro in No Way Home. Miles is still in the universe somewhere as confirmed by Donald Glover's Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming, so it's possible that he's all grown up thanks to the Blip. Perhaps Peter moving back into more of a Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man in Spider-Man 4 will give him the opportunity to face off against Davis' Prowler, enabling him to befriend Miles along the way.

Why Ned and MJ Should Come Back

Peter, Ned, MJ in Spider-Man
Marvel

With all that said, it would be a mighty shame for Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures to ditch MJ and Ned completely. 

One of the reasons that Spider-Man is such a compelling character is because his care for others often results in his downfall. Even though these amnesiac versions of MJ and Ned don't remember him, he still remembers them. If a villain were to piece together that the trio were so closely knit, Peter's friends could very much still be used against him.

Since the rules and impact of Doctor Strange's spell have yet to be outlined, it's possible that an adversary of Spidey's could stumble upon some hard evidence of the three friends together, perhaps by stealing one of Peter's remaining photos from his dodgy apartment to uncover the truth.

And from a purely marketing and financial standpoint, it wouldn't make much sense for Marvel and Sony to not bring back Zendaya, whose popularity speaks for itself. The MCU previously ended on a massive separation with Captain America: Civil War, which saw fan-favorite Avengers Tony Stark and Steve Rogers breaking up.

Marvel Studios waited a whole three years before properly reuniting the two in Avengers: Endgame, so perhaps the studios will bide their time to build up the Peter Parker and MJ hype before bringing back the beloved characters for a grand reunion. This would allow the filmmakers to bring Peter's friends back without jeopardizing the impact of No Way Home's ending. 

The position No Way Home leaves Ned and MJ's characters in is too good not to narratively capitalize on in the future, so it is almost certain that fans will see the two in the future. But will it be in Spider-Man 4?

How Spider-Man 4 Continues

Spider-Man 4
Marvel

If Marvel and Sony do choose to include Ned and MJ in Spider-Man 4, there are a couple of ways they could do so.

Will Peter take the bus to Boston to visit his pals at MIT, or will Ned and MJ come back to the Big Apple for Spring break? Given that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is showing up in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, fans may get an update on Zendaya and Jacob Batalon's characters there before the two travel back to NYC to cross paths with Spider-Man again.

Fans have wondered whether Ned Leeds will take on his comic book mantle of the Hobgoblin, which No Way Home directly addresses with a potentially tragic line from Batalon's character.

"And I promise you, I won't turn into a supervillain and try to kill you."

Putting Spider-Man face-to-face with his former best friend would be a devastating situation for Peter, but would make for an incredibly dramatic battle.

Perhaps Ned returns to NYC for another reason though. Ned Leeds may have forgotten Peter Parker, but this presumably wouldn't have made him forget all of the events of No Way Home, right? Ned may still recall his aptitude for sorcery and sling rings, so perhaps he has managed to stay in contact with Doctor Strange. He's going to need to earn extra college credits somehow, so an internship at the Sanctum Sanctorum could be on the cards.

As for MJ, maybe it's time that she suits up. Some comic versions of MJ have taken on the mantle of Spider-Woman, so it wouldn't be unusual for Zendaya's character to take on the mantle herself. Maybe MJ still has a fascination with Spider-Man and continues to follow his antics, ultimately resulting in her gaining powers of her own. Sony is currently developing a Spider-Woman film of their own revolving around the Jessica Drew incarnation, so this would be the perfect opportunity for Marvel Studios to get their own version.

Spider-Man 4 could frame the narrative as there being a new mysterious Spider-Woman in town, resulting in Peter seeking her out. It would then be revealed to Spidey, and the audience, that MJ is under the mask all along, which would certainly induce many mixed feelings in Peter. And come on, surely Zendaya is deserving of becoming a superhero at this point?

While their futures may be uncertain, fans can still watch Ned and MJ in their biggest adventure yet in Spider-Man: No Way Home in theaters now.