Filipino-American actor Jacob Batalon (North Woods) has only been acting for two years, but he already landed a role in a major motion-picture: Spider-Man: Homecoming. In an interview that took place earlier this month, Batalon was asked to discuss his character in the film.
"Well, Ned Leeds; I play Peter Parker's best friend in the film," Batalon told KHON2. "We are both in high school; we are about fifteen. And it's just about Peter dealing with being a superhero and going through puberty. He still has to worry about homework; he still has to worry about his crush liking him, while trying to save someone who's probably in a burning building. He can't tell anyone because he's not the cool kid, so he's just stuck with this really cool life that he can't tell anyone about."
In the comics, Edward "Ned" Leeds first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #18 (November 1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. He was a Daily Bugle reporter who competed with Peter Parker for Betty Brant's attention. When Parker dropped out of contention, Leeds and Brant move forward with their relationship and got married (didn't go swimmingly). However, he is best known for being captured by the Hobgoblin (Roderick Kingsley) and brainwashed to believe he is the Hobgoblin so that Kingsley can use Leeds as a scapegoat down the line. Once Leeds is no longer needed, Kingsley lets it be known that Leeds is the Hobgoblin, and this leads to the Foreigner killing Leeds. Eventually, Parker deduced that Leeds was set up and got Kingsley to confess.
Since I doubt Homecoming will go down that path, I wouldn't be surprised if the filmmakers partly-based him on the version in The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series. In that continuity, his name and ethnicity were changed. He was known as Ned Lee and was Korean-American. He was still a Daily Bugle reporter and had a thing for Betty Brant, but he was very focused on uncovering Spider-Man's identity.
A young Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland), who made his sensational debut in Marvel Studios' Captain America: Civil War, begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging superhero in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The cast features Tom Holland (In the Heart of the Sea), Michael Keaton (Batman, Birdman), Zendaya (K.C. Undercover), Donald Glover (The Martian, Community), Jacob Batalon (North Woods), Laura Harrier (One Life to Live), Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Tyne Daly (Cagney and Lacey), Bokeem Woodbine (Fargo), with Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler), and Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, The Avengers). It also includes Martin Starr (Silicon Valley), Kenneth Choi (The People vs. O.J. Simpson), Michael Mando (Better Call Saul), Selenis Leyva (Orange is the New Black), Isabella Amara (The Boss), Jorge Lendeborg, Jr. (Graceland), JJ Totah (Liv and Maddie), and Hannibal Buress (30 Rock).
The film is being directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car, Clown), based on a screenplay by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley (Vacation reboot) and Jon Watts & Christopher Ford and Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers.
The film is produced by Marvel boss Kevin Feige and former Sony boss Amy Pascal. Louis D'Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Patricia Whitcher, Jeremy Latcham, and Stan Lee are serving as Executive Producers.
More Spider-Man: Homecoming news:
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released on July 7, 2017.