In memory of MCU Spider-Man's greatest ally Ned Leeds: Supervillains and warlords couldn't end his life but real-world conflicts did
Ned's chemistry with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man, his sweet demeanor and his strange wisdom are all things that made him extremely endearing to fans but despite how much he was loved, Ned never really got a chance to grow into his full potential
We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of a young hero, tech genius and loyal friend. The world knew him as Ned Leeds, Peter Parker’s best friend and trusty sidekick. But he had another name, one known only by a select few: The Guy in the Chair.
Ned (Jacob Batalon) was easily one of the most popular characters from Marvel’s rebooted ‘Spider-Man’ franchise. His chemistry with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man, his sweet demeanor, and his strange wisdom are all things that made Ned extremely endearing to the fans.
Despite how much he was loved, the franchise's Ned never really got a chance to grow into his full potential. He was mostly relegated to the role of comic relief, though fans still saw the potential in him and eagerly waited to see him grow into the man they knew he could become. In fact, it seemed as if all these characters would have a long, satisfying future ahead of them.
By choosing to start with the characters at a young age, Marvel gave Peter, Ned and all their friends a chance to evolve slowly over time. There was no need to rush them through their development because they could grow organically as a part of the greater cinematic universe. This often softened the blow when a character got limited attention from the writers.
As a case in point, ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ mostly kept Ned away from the action, choosing instead to focus on Peter and MJ’s budding relationship. A lot of fans were not very pleased to see one of their favorite characters taken out of the main storyline.
On the bright side, Ned managed to have an adorable fling with Betty Brant (Angourie Rice) in 'Far From Home'. Though the relationship only lasted the duration of the trip, they ended things amicably, leaving the door open for future development.
And so, by the end of the movie, Ned was back at Peter’s side, ready to assist him in his efforts to keep the city (and the world) safe. No one could have known what tragedy was waiting just around the corner.
By all accounts, MCU's Ned had a good life. He had friends who cared for him, he had a lot of fun helping his best buddy fight crime and he was a proud member of his school’s academic decathlon team.
Ned had so much to live for: graduation, college, his first job, perhaps even a brief stint as a villain, if he were to follow in the footsteps of his comic book counterpart. With two more ‘Spider-Man’ movies in the pipeline, everybody assumed he would get to live a long and happy life.
Unfortunately, Ned’s existence was cut tragically short after Disney and Sony ended their partnership, reportedly over either financial disputes, creative differences or both. Whatever the actual reasons for the spat, the official word is that ‘Spider-Man’ and all affiliated characters will no longer be a part of the MCU.
Although Sony will probably look to make more 'Spider-Man' movies, they can't directly continue the story from the MCU movies. Doing so would invite serious legal trouble from Marvel, since both studios have a stake in the creation of this particular version of Peter and Co.
What that means is that Sony could always introduce another Ned Leeds in a different Spider-Man film set in a brand new universe. While that is somewhat comforting, it doesn't change the fact that this version of Ned, the one we've all known and loved, will not be seen ever again. He has been blinked out of existence, not by sinister cosmic forces but by competing real-world business interests.
And so ended the short but happy life of the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise's Ned Leeds. Unlike Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Ned will not be commemorated with wall murals or shrines, despite everything he did for the world from behind the scenes.
Ned’s first death came during Thanos' Snap in 'Avengers: Infinity War' but he was brought back to the world of the living during 'Avengers: Endgame'. Unfortunately, this time he has been Snapped out by forces much larger than Thanos or any of his cohorts and not even the Avengers, can help him come back from this.
And so, after all the battles he gave his invaluable assistance to, the Guy in the Chair departed, not with a bang but with a whimper.
Rest in Peace, Ned Leeds. You will be missed.