When Jacob Batalon joined the cast of ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, many True Believers assumed that Miles Morales’ good buddy Ganke Lee would instead be appearing as Peter Parker’s best friend in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But to everyone’s surprise, it was revealed at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con that Batalon would actually be playing Ned Leeds, a character that has traditionally been a rival of Parker’s (and eventually of Spider-Man’s as well when Leeds became the Hobgoblin). This left many confused and some even disappointed or angry, but now Ganke’s co-creator has finally weighed in on the similarities between the Ultimate Universe character and the one appearing in Jon Watts’ upcoming Phase Three film.
While appearing on the Ultimate Spin podcast, Brian Michael Bendis shared his thoughts on this version of Ned Leeds that seemingly takes a page from the ‘Ultimate Comics Spider-Man’ cast member created by Bendis and Sara Pichelli in 2011. The acclaimed comic book writer admitted that he wasn’t 100% sure that Batalon’s role is exactly an amalgamation of Leeds and Lee since he hasn’t actually seen the movie yet, so his stance might best be described as optimistic confusion:
“I’ll be very honest right now. I have not talked about this publicly, but it feels very bizarre. Most of the time the characters that I’ve had a hand in creating that have made it to the screen, from Jessica [Jones] all the way to Maria Hill and Quake, the level of quality of the adaptation and care in which they bring the character forward past the adaptation into its new life has been uniformly amazing — my luck in this area has been second to none.
I’ve not seen ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, so I’m gonna wait until we see what we see. But, yeah, it was bizarre and flattering. I don’t even know if Ganke was the inspiration, or they just got to their own place with a character like this on their own. I don’t know. It does seem like it might have been, but no one’s told me either way. There’s so much else in that trailer that’s from ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ that I would assume that, yes, it is… It’s weird only because Ganke wasn’t part of Peter’s story — he was part of Miles’ story.”
As weird as it might be to see a Ganke doppleganger going by another classic character’s name, it is nice to see that Peter Parker’s contemporaries are rather diverse. That’s not something that you frequently see in movies set in major cities these days. Hell, that’s not even something that you frequently see in some other corners of the MCU to a certain degree. But with Marvel Studios aiming for a completely different approach to the friendly neighborhood web-slinger that will hopefully prove that the third time is the charm, it’s possible that that frame of mind extends to the supporting cast as well. Although as Bendis says, we don’t know what the deal is either way just yet. So while we wait for answers, let us know what you think about Jacob Batalon as Ned Leeds and the comparisons to Ganke Lee in the comments below.
‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ starring Tom Holland, Zendaya, Tony Revolori, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr, Logan Marshall-Green, Donald Glover, Hannibal Buress, Kenneth Choi, Angourie Rice, Tyron Woodley, and Robert Downey Jr. hits theaters on July 7, 2017.