Spider-Man is my favorite superhero by an overwhelming margin. So imagine the amount of Yes I have for Jacob Batalon (a young actor of Filipino and Hawaiian roots) appearing as Peter Parker’s high school buddy in the new trailer for SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.
Batalon, as Ned Leeds, holds it down as unexpected comic relief and high-school-angst touchstone for loner Peter Parker/Spider-Dude. Here’s a little background: Ned Leeds is a recurring supporting character in the Spider-Verse, not traditionally a sidekick role (for more expounding on “sidekicks” please check out the latest episode of my podcast here), and to my knowledge has never been Asian. And GET THIS GUYS, Ned Leeds, by comics canon, was also the original secret identity of the Hobgoblin (sort of, #itscomplicated). Hobgoblin (known affectionately to Spidey as “Hobby”) is a villain who has been rumored to appear in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, but no confirmation details have arisen yet, I think.
(There was this slight grumbling recently when it was rumored that Ganke Lee, Miles Morales’s Korean-American friend, would be in the film but played by a white dude. Apparently that didn’t happen, at least to the extent that the appearance of Donald Glover as Miles Morales himself is still only being sorta hinted at, and…oh, the tangled web we weave, amIrite?)
But hey, and I’m not saying that looking at Mr. Batalon I can sense a Hobgoblin in him (or even a Rhino or a youngish Doctor Octopus), but if we had an Asian-American villain in the rebooted SPIDER-MAN franchise…and that character had a developed, slow-burn character arc that is true to the Hobgoblin myth (as opposed to the typically fast-tracked Spidey movie villain who just appears, gets a weird power, and instantly decides to be evil — Spider-Man and Ned Leeds/Hobgoblin have a history) just exactly HOW MUCH WOULD THAT OWN?!?!
SPOILER ALERT (but not really):
I’m calling it right here. Hobgoblin would be an excellent compliment to the villain triad featured in HOMECOMING, which apparently includes Shocker (always liked his costume, personally) and Michael Keaton as Birdman/The Vulture.
Congratulations, Mr. Batalon! Note that Ned appears much less in this international trailer for HOMECOMING, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.