- “You can take the guy out of the chair, but you can't take the chair out of the guy.”
Ned Leeds was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
Ned Leeds is Peter Parker's classmate and best friend who is studying at Midtown School of Science and Technology.
Ned Leeds is introduced as Peter's best friend and classmate. Having just gotten a LEGO Death Star, Ned invites Peter to help build it, which Peter unwittingly agrees to. That night, Ned visits the Parker Residence and waits in Peter's room. However, Ned soon catches Peter crawling on the ceiling and revealing himself as Spider-Man, much to Ned's shock. Over the next day, Ned bombards Peter with questions regarding his abilities as Spider-Man and even requests to be his "guy in the chair." During gym, Ned blurts out to Liz that Peter knows Spider-Man, causing her to invite them to her party. Ned tries to use Peter's Spider-Man identity to increase their social standings, but Peter is forced to leave to investigate an explosion. While he is gone, Ned is harassed out of the party by Flash Thompson, causing Peter to not return.
During the deal, Peter finds a Chitauri energy core and learns with Ned that it was fused with human technology. Peter joins the Academic Decathlon team to track down the Vulture, a supervillain using Chitauri technology to make weapons. At their hotel room, Ned disables the Spider-Man suit's tracker and training wheels and is entrusted with the core by Peter. The next day, Ned helps the team win, but while at the Washington Monument, the core's exposure to radioactivity causes it to explode and trap Ned and the team in the elevator. Luckily, Spider-Man saves the team.
Ned later attends the homecoming dance, but leaves after noticing Peter leaving. Soon, Ned assists Spider-Man in battling the Shocker and finally becomes Spider-Man's "guy in the chair" to help track down the Vulture, but is soon caught by a teacher and claims to be watching pornography to cover for his activities.
Ned makes a brief appearance in the film. While on a field trip headed to MOMA, Peter asks Ned to create a distraction so he can leave the bus unnoticed. Noticing an alien spaceship, Ned alerts the others, screaming "we're all gonna die!", allowing Peter to put on his Spider-Man suit to go investigate.
While not seen, Ned is among the half of the universe slain by Thanos's snap.
Ned is resurrected by Bruce Banner alongside the snap's victims. Afterwards, he has an emotional reunion with the resurrected and tearful Peter at school.
Ned accompanies Peter on the school sponsored trip to Europe and gets caught in the middle of Peter's fight with the Elementals. While in Europe, Ned develops a relationship with Betty Brant. They, along with MJ, Flash, and Happy, are cornered by Mysterio's drones but are saved when Peter deactivates them. After the trip, Ned breaks up with Betty while still on good terms with each other, deciding to just be friends.
Ned helps Peter deal with the aftermath of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Ned ends up using one of Doctor Strange's ring slings and gets magical powers where he can open portals which he later uses to find Peter after Ned and MJ learn of Aunt May's death. However, because the multiverse has opened two (Tobey Maquire) alternate (Andrew Garfield) Spider-Men from separate universes walk through the portals and the four try to find this universe's Peter Parker.
After a new spell has been cast by Doctor Strange, Ned and MJ learn they must be forced to forget about their friendship and relationship with Peter. Ned and Peter tearfully say goodbye to each other before the spell takes full effect. Peter later tries to reconnect with his best friend and girlfriend but decide against it when they see they have moved on without him.
- In the comics, Ned Leeds is the name of a co-worker from the Daily Bugle. Ned would be brainwashed by the super-villain Roderick Kingsley into becoming the Hobgoblin as a scapegoat if Kingsley, the real Hobgoblin ever got caught. Ned would go on to be involved in New York's criminal-underworld with figures like the Kingpin and the Rose until his usefulness ran out, leading to him being assassinated to be replaced with a new Hobgoblin decoy.
- Ned's personality, appearance and relationship to Peter is similar to the character of Ganke Lee. Ganke Lee was the best-friend, confidant and roommate of Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of Earth-1610.
- Ned Leeds' role in Peter Parker's life is similar to the one of Harry Osborn from the comics and both Spider-Man film-series prior to the MCU; Harry Osborn having been Peter's closest friend during high school who he was distanced from due to their changing lives. In the aforementioned Earth-1610 and many other adaptations, it was Harry Osborn who became the Hobgoblin which is of-note considering that Leeds is most famous for having become Hobgoblin in the comics; in mainstream comics, Harry became the successor Green Goblin.
- Ned returns in Avengers: Endgame, but does not have any speaking lines. This is the first time Ned is seen with Peter, but has no lines.
- For Spider-Man: No Way Home, Ned's actor Jacob Batalon lost 120 pounds for the return of the character. This is possibly to set up his role as the Hobgoblin for either a twist in the film or for another installment. If he does indeed become a villain this will make him similar to Harry Osborn from the previous two Spider-Man film franchises.
- Photos from Spider-Man: No Way Home shows that Ned joined the school football team.
- Ned's friendship and "guy in the chair" role with Peter is very similar with Tony Stark's friendship with James Rhodes/War Machine.
- Ned's actor, Jacob Batalon has stated he would like to see Ned take a dark turn and become the Hobgoblin.
- Benedict Wong hopes to star alongside Jacob Batalon in a Disney+ show where Ned is Wong's apprentice in magic.