- Warning: There are major spoilers ahead for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” now in theaters.
- Jacob Batalon reprises his role as Ned Leeds, the best friend of Peter Parker (Tom Holland).
- There are several moments in “NWH” that seemingly lay the foundation for a larger Ned story line.
Jacob Batalon, who first played the best friend of Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” returns for the third installment of Jon Watts’ trilogy that’s now in theaters.
In the film, Peter, Ned, and MJ (Zendaya) work together to do damage control when a spell cast by Doctor Strange, intended to make the world forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, goes horribly wrong.
As a result, the multiverse begins to open and visitors from other universes show up.
Five villains from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s “Spider-Man” franchises arrive: Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, Dr. Otto Octavius/Doc Ock, Dr. Curtis Connors/Lizard, Max Dillon/Electro, and Flint Marko/Sandman.
While Doctor Strange asserts that he should send the foes back to their universes immediately to meet their fates, Peter disagrees, believing he can help cure them and save their lives.
There are several clues sprinkled throughout “NWH” that could point to Ned becoming some kind of a sorcerer if his journey in the MCU were to continue.
Early in the movie when Ned steps into the Sanctum Sanctorum for the first time, he mentions magic and says: “My Nana says we have it in our family.”
Later, he gets ahold of Doctor Strange’s sling ring and somehow manages to quickly learn how to open portals. It’s through Ned’s new skill that he unintentionally opens portals that finally bring Garfield and Maguire’s web-slingers back to the big screen.
During the film’s battle scene at the Statue of Liberty, Doctor Strange learns of Ned’s ability to open portals and seems impressed.
And when Ned falls from the construction during the battle, Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation saves him. As Ned descends to the ground safely with the cloak on, he kind of looks like a sorcerer.
Ned becoming a sorcerer wouldn’t be too left-field, considering that he teams up with the villainous sorcerer named Baron Mordo in the comics.
Karl Mordo previously appeared in 2016’s “Doctor Strange,” played by Chiwetel Ejiofor. He became the villain by the film’s conclusion and will return in the upcoming sequel.
But there’s also another long-standing fan theory that suggests that Ned will take after his comic-book counterpart and become the popular Spidey nemesis known as Hobgoblin.
Batalon, Holland, and Zendaya reacted to that theory in a promotional video for “NWH,” shared ahead of the movie’s release. The stars all laughed, but Holland said: “There’s a moment, though.”
It’s unclear which moment Holland was referring to (if he was specific, the actor surely would have been called out for letting yet another spoiler slip out).
In the film, there is a part where Ned asks Maguire’s character if he has a best friend. In response, Maguire says that he had a best friend who tried to murder him, referring to James Franco’s Harry Osborn.
Ned then assures Peter that he won’t turn into a supervillain and kill him. The comment leads Ned, Peter, and MJ to exchange weird looks.
There’s another part of “NWH” when the camera pans to knives mounted on a board on the wall of Ned’s Nana’s home — which seems like a random decor choice. The camera also lingers on a sewing machine with a green garment attached to it.
At the end of the movie, after Doctor Strange casts a spell that makes the world forget who Peter Parker is, we see Ned and MJ talking about pursuing engineering at MIT.
When Peter begins unpacking at his new apartment, he takes out the Emperor Palpatine Lego figure that Ned had in “Homecoming” and puts it on a table. It could just be a keepsake that Peter displays to remember Ned, but it could also hint that, like the “Star Wars” character, Ned could be headed to the Dark side.
“Spider-Man” producer Amy Pascal said that Holland will reprise his role as the web-slinger for three more undisclosed movies. However, fans don’t know if characters like Ned and MJ will also return.
Because of the emphasis on magic in “NWH,” it seems like the movie is planting seeds for Ned to become a sorcerer. But the other comments and nods becoming a supervillain make the Hobgoblin theory plausible.
The movie could also be Ned up to be an amalgamation of Hobgoblin and a sorcerer.