Spider-Man: No Way Home’s cliffhanger spawned several fan theories about the superhero’s fate in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including one that Ned Leeds will transform into Venom in Spider-Man 4, rather than Hobgoblin.
Tom Holland makes his MCU entrance as Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, recruited by Tony Stark to fight on the Iron Man side after a protracted wait for Spider-Man to enter the MCU thanks to a contract between Marvel and Sony.
After starring in his first solo outing in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter quickly rose to prominence as one of the MCU’s most recognizable and adored characters, and he ended up joining the other of the superheroes of this realm in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
In Spider-Man: Far From Home, he put an end to the Infinity Saga, and in Spider-Man: No Way Home, he caused immense multiverse havoc. When Doctor Strange’s magic backfired, it created a portal to the universe and let the bad guys from the original Spider-Man films into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A spell to erase Peter Parker from everyone’s memory was the only option, and it worked.
Peter Parker’s girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and closest buddy Ned both forget about him at the conclusion of Spider-Man: No Way Home, leaving him to start a new chapter of his life on his own. This provides Spider-Man a new beginning in the MCU and affords the studio the opportunity to revisit certain fan-favorite tales; it also allows for the introduction of new characters and the potential for significant alterations to old ones.
After the mid-credits sequence in No Way Home showed that a component of the Venom symbiote is now part of the MCU, many speculated that Ned would become Venom rather than Hobgoblin in Spider-Man 4.
In the MCU, Ned Leeds is Peter Parker’s best friend; he was instrumental in keeping Peter’s superhero identity hidden and was there for him anytime he needed a hand, as evidenced in No Way Home, when he brought Peter-Two and Peter-Third into Peter’s world with the aid of Doctor Strange’s sling-ring.
While Ned in the MCU differs greatly from his comic book counterpart, the events of No Way Home may pave the way for a character shift that is more in line with his comic book origins. Ned works as a reporter for the Daily Bugle alongside Peter, making them rivals in their pursuit of Betty Brandt. Ned pursues the Hobgoblin into a hideaway one day when Spider-Man is fighting him, and there he is imprisoned, brainwashed, and made into a scapegoat.
Constant deception and indoctrination drive a wedge between Ned and Betty and his professional and personal life, and the New York underground empire finally finds that Ned is the Hobgoblin. After Ned is murdered by the Foreigner in Berlin at Jason Macendale’s behest, Spider-Man and Betty manage to frame the genuine Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, for the murder.