In the trailer for Jon Watts’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) learns to balance great power with great responsibility while fighting the Vulture (Michael Keaton) in his first solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beside him is his energetic and physically large best friend, who fans assume is Ganke Lee. They’re only sort of right.
Originally from the Ultimate Spider-Man series from Brian Michael Bendis, Korean-American teen Ganke Lee is the best friend of Miles Morales, the half-black, half-Latino Spider-Man who replaced a deceased Peter Parker in the parallel Ultimate universe. In Spider-Man: Homecoming, the physical and personality attributes of Ganke are borrowed for a new character, Ned Leeds (played by Filipino-Hawaiian actor Jacob Batalon) to act as Peter’s confidant.
Ned Leeds isn’t an original name either. First appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man #18 in 1964, Ned Leeds was a rival of Peter at the Daily Bugle who competed against him for career opportunities as well as the attention of secretary Betty Brandt, who will be played by Angourie Rice in Homecoming as another high-school student. Eventually, Ned is brain-washed into becoming the Hobgoblin, a diversion for the real Hobgoblin, Arnold Donovan, to escape.
The presence of Ned Leeds/Ganke Lee has inspired fans to wonder why the new movie doesn’t have fan-favorite Miles Morales as the red and blue superhero.
Atlanta star Donald Glover, the direct inspiration for Miles, has a supporting role in Homecoming that fans speculate is Miles. But in the trailer, Glover appears to be an illegal weapons supplier for the Tinkerer (Michael Chernus). With the creative liberties taken to Ganke and Ned, it’s still possible Glover’s villain could also be Miles at heart.
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released July 7, 2017.