Edward Leeds (Hobgoblin)

nedleedsfilmAnother character appearing in the trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming is the hero’s best friend, Ned Leeds, portrayed by Jacob Bacalon. In the movie, Ned is another loser just like Peter Parker, a nerd and a science geek who lacks of popularity in school, and the two always hang out together. From the trailer we see that he eventually finds out that Peter is Spider-Man, when the boy comes back to his room without realising Ned is there playing with a LEGO Death Star…but apparently Leeds supports him (it’s cool to have a superhero best friend), although he reminds him he’s “just a kid” when big trouble arrives. In the comics, Ned’s character is very different, both in looks and in the role he has in Peter Parker’s life. And no, his story doesn’t end well, at all. Let’s see together.

Edward “Ned” Leeds was born and raised in New York City, but nearly nothing is known about his early life. He studied to become a journalist, and as an adult he was hired as a reporter by one of the city’s most important newspapers, the Daily Bugle. While working at the Bugle, Ned met the editor J. Jonah Jameson‘s secretary, Betty Brant, and he developed a crush on the girl; Betty, however, was already dating a photographer, Peter Parker, so Ned limited to flirting with her without getting serious. When Betty’s brother Bennett was killed for some debts he had with a gangster, it was Ned who comforted her, since Peter was always busy somewhere else. Eventually, Betty decided to dump Parker, since he was clearly incapable of living a relationship, while Leeds was a reliable companion. Ironically, immediately after the beginning of their relationship Jameson sent Ned in Europe for an assignment, but the two kept in touch, and Ned proved he wanted to be with Betty despite the distance. When he came back to New York, a promotion was waiting for him at the Daily Bugle, and he became City Editor; plus, things with Betty were simply great, and he eventually nedleedscomics1proposed to her. Betty agreed to become his wife, and after a dangerous misadventure (The Jackal had kidnapped him, and his life was threatened until Spider-Man arrived on the scene and battled his own clone to free him), the two finally got married. Ned chose Peter Parker as his best man, and prepared to make the big step…but even the ceremony itself was pretty eventful, as the criminal Mirage crushed in with his gang to rob the attendees: he was promptly stopped by Spider-Man, and the wedding could continue, with Ned Leeds and Betty Brant being finally pronounced man and wife. Now, Leeds had everything he could possibly want: a beautiful and loving wife, a promotion at work, a comfortable life…but he still missed something.

The new job was surely a rewarding one, but it had Ned spend most of his time behind the desk rather than in the streets being a reporter: this part of his life was something he missed, and he asked Jameson to be assigned to an actual on-field investigation. There was a new supercriminal in town, Hobgoblin, who shared M.O. and equipment with the original Green Goblin, and Jameson gave Leeds the task to investigate on him. The best way to do that for Ned was to follow Spider-Man, and that eventually paid off, as the hero inevitably came to clash with the villain. When the battle ended, Hobgoblin escaped, but Ned managed to follow him to his lair…where he found out the man behind the mask was the famous fashion designer Roderick Kingsley. Ready for the scoop, Leeds was however spotted by the villain, who captured him…but instead of killing him, he decided to use him as a double to protect himself. Using Gerhard Winkler‘s device, Kingsley erased from Ned’s memory their encoutner, and he convinced him that he was the actual Hobgoblin, bringing him to act in his stead and for his own interest. Wanting to become the top boss in New York, for example, Kingsley needed to get rid of The Kingpin, so he brought Ned Leeds to forge an alliance with Kingpin’s son, Richard Fisk, designing for him the identity of the criminal boss The Rose and starting a gang war/family nedleedscomics2feud that would have hopefully put an end to Kingpin’s dominion over the city. Of course, the brainwashing caused Ned to become increasingly unstable, often aggressive even with his friends and his wife, so that Betty looked for comfort somewhere else, and started an affair with Flash Thompson. This cracked Ned’s sanity even more, and after staging things so that Flash was accused to be Hobgoblin, he lost control, and he revealed to Kingpin that his rival Rose was actually his son. Feeling he had lost control over a deranged Leeds, with the war for the Kingpin’s territory reaching an unwanted apex, Kingsley decided to leave New York for a while, and to erase traces of his passage: he released some anonymous information about Ned Leeds being Hobgoblin in the underworld, and waited the inevitable consequences to come…

Ned Leeds used to be a brave and gentle man, a loving husband, a brilliant reporter, a loyal friend: now, he’s a deranged psychopath, with his mind slowly but relentlessly slipping in folly, losing grasp over reality and control over himself. As the “official Hobgoblin double”, he has access to Roderick Kingsley’s equipment, such as his Goblin Glider, his Goblin Armor, and the arsenal of lethal weapons ranging from Pumpkin Bombs to gauntlet-mounted blasters. Not being the true Hobgoblin, however, Ned lacks the superpowers and the combat skills of the original, and he only is a pawn in Kingsley’s hands, unable to realise that the decisions he makes are actually orders he receives. Reduced to a twisted parody of the man he was, Ned Leeds is a puppet in the hands of a man he doesn’t even remember to know, a shadow of his former self destroying everything and everyone he holds dear.

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6 Comments

  1. […] Edward Leeds (Hobgoblin) […]

  2. […] found themselves together at Shea Stadium, to save from the Jackal “their” friend Ned Leeds, who had been abducted and threatened with a time bomb. Both of them believed the other to be an […]

  3. […] with Peter. Albeit she still loved Peter, Betty accepted the avances of a colleaguer, reporter Ned Leeds, and she kept hearing from him during all the time he was in Europe. When Ned came back, the two […]

  4. […] the team to Washington D.C. and who’s almost killed by a Chitauri weapon an oblivious Ned Leeds carries along in the Washington Monument. In the comics, Harrington appears as an older man, and […]

  5. […] by Ethan Dizon. In the movie, he’s the short Asian guy who’s playing chess while Ned Leeds does his best to sneak around in stealth mode, without much success; he also appears at the end, […]

  6. […] have the confirmation of yet another minor character appearing in the movie. When Peter Parker and Ned Leeds examine the Chitauri artifact they found, they’re doing it during the shop class, and the […]


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