- “You're the Spider-Man!”
- ―Ned to Peter Parker
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 due to Peter's "Stark Internship." 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.
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 which he is requested by Peter to make a distraction. Noticing an alien spaceship, Ned screams that an invasion is occurring, providing Peter with a getaway in the process. 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, and afterwards reunites with the resurrected Peter at school.
Ned accompanies Peter in Peter's trip through Europe and gets caught in the middle of Peter's fight with the Elementals. While at Europe, Ned develops a relationship with Betty Brant, but eventually breaks up with her while still on good terms with each other.
Ned will return in Spider-Man 3.
- Ned is a form of composite-character between three different established Spider-Man characters.
- 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 taken from the character of Ganke Lee. Ganke Lee was the best-friend, confidant and roommate of Miles Morales, the Spider-Man of Earth-1610. The MCU's Peter Parker is noted for being a closer adaptation to Miles Morales who was much more critically successful as a character during Spider-Man's integration in the MCU, often leading to criticism for the films adapting a white version of Miles Morales rather than a faithful version of any Spider-Men.
- Ned Leeds' role in Peter Parker's life is based on that 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.