Spider-Man 4 Theory Reveals Ned Becomes Venom, Not Hobgoblin
Spider-Man 4 Theory Reveals Ned Becomes Venom, Not Hobgoblin
The ending of Spider-Man: No Way Home left the door open to a number of possibilities for Spider-Man’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and made way for a variety of theories, such as one that suggests Ned Leeds will become Venom instead of Hobgoblin in Spider-Man 4. After a long wait for Spider-Man to join the MCU, a deal between Marvel and Sony made his arrival possible, and so Tom Holland debuted as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, where he was recruited by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to join his side of the battle.
Peter went on to star in his first solo adventure in Spider-Man: Homecoming, becoming one of the most popular and beloved characters from the MCU, and he later joined the rest of this universe’s heroes in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Spider-Man closed the Infinity Saga with Spider-Man: Far From Home and returned to create massive multiversal chaos in Spider-Man: No Way Home, where a botched spell from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) opened the gates to the multiverse, allowing villains from past Spider-Man movies (as well as variants of the web-slinger) to cross over into the MCU. The only solution was to cast a spell that would make the world forget Peter Parker, and this time the spell was successful.
At the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Peter Parker was left completely alone and starting a new chapter in his life all by himself, while his girlfriend MJ (Zendaya) and his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) moved on with their lives without remembering who Peter is. This gives a fresh start to Spider-Man in the MCU and allows the studio to explore some fan-favorite storylines, and it also gives them more freedom to bring other characters and even see some drastic changes in already established ones. Among the many theories surrounding Spider-Man 4 is that Ned will become Hobgoblin, but after the mid-credits scene in No Way Home revealed that a piece of the Venom symbiote is now in the MCU, a theory suggests Ned will, instead, become Venom.
The MCU’s Ned Leeds is Peter Parker’s best friend, who helped him keep his superhero identity a secret and helped him whenever he needed, as seen in No Way Home where he, with the help of Strange’s sling-ring, brought Peter-Two (Tobey Maguire) and Peter-Three (Andrew Garfield) into his universe. However, the MCU’s Ned is very different from the one in the comic books, but the ending of No Way Home could make way for a drastic transformation in him that is more like what happened to him in the comics. In them, Ned is a reporter for the Daily Bugle and thus Peter’s colleague, with whom he competes for the affections of Betty Brandt. One day, when Spider-Man battles the Hobgoblin, Ned follows the latter into a hideout, where he’s captured and brainwashed so he can be used as a scapegoat. The constant manipulation and brainwashing make Ned become increasingly mentally unstable, affecting his marriage to Betty and his career, and the New York underworld empire eventually learns that Ned is the Hobgoblin. While on assignment in Berlin with Peter, Ned is killed by the Foreigner at Jason Macendale’s request, and some time later, Spider-Man and Betty trick the real Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, into confessing to framing Ned.
Just like there have been different Hobgoblins, Venom has had various hosts throughout his comic book history. Venom’s first host was none other than Spider-Man, during the first Secret Wars event in the 1980s. After Spider-Man’s costume is ruined while fighting in Battleworld, he is taken to a room at the heroes’ base where a machine can read his thoughts and make any type of clothing. Spider-Man chooses a machine he believes to be the right one and a black sphere appears in front of him, spreading all over his body and covering it to form a new, black and white costume. During the The Amazing Spider-Man storyline, the symbiote as it’s now known was established, taking over Peter at night and going out at night to fight crime, leaving him inexplicably exhausted the next morning.
Venom’s second host was Eddie Brock, a disgraced former Daily Globe reporter. Brock fell into a deep depression after his career was ruined, and sought solace at the church where Spider-Man got rid of the symbiote, who after sensing Brock’s hatred for Spider-Man, bonded with him. Together, Eddie and Venom fought and tried to kill Spider-Man many times, and the symbiote even helped Brock in a sporadic run as a vigilante. Venom’s subsequent hosts were Mac Gargan/Scorpion, Flash Thompson, Lee Price, Tel-Kar, and Malekith, and there have been many other characters who briefly bonded with Venom, such as Brock’s ex-wife Anne Weying, Carol Danvers, Red Hulk, and Mysterio.
Although Ned Leeds and Venom have no connection in the comics, the events of No Way Home could make way for Ned bonding with the symbiote and thus becoming Venom in the MCU. A theory posted on Reddit explains how Ned will become Venom in the MCU thanks to the piece of the symbiote that was left by Venom itself at the end of No Way Home. The author explains that the symbiote will have a similar storyline to the one in the comics (and the one seen in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3), bonding first with Peter and later with Ned. The post-credits scene in Venom 2 revealed that the symbiote knows Spider-Man, so the piece left in the MCU could have retained that information (after all, Venom shares a hive mind with countless symbiotes across the multiverse), so it could go after Peter and bond with him. Spider-Man 4 could see Peter and Ned become coworkers at the Daily Bugle, making way for a story reminiscent of the comic books in which Ned ends up at the wrong place and bonds with Venom right after Peter gets rid of it, thus transforming Ned into a villain though not the one everyone expects.
The biggest question around this theory is if bonding with the symbiote would restore Ned’s memories of Peter. The extent and limits of Strange’s final spell in No Way Home remain unclear, so it’s unknown if the symbiote’s memories of Spider-Man and Peter Parker would also be erased. As the author of the theory explains, Venom sharing a hive mind not only explains why it knows about Spider-Man but it also means that it knows about Maguire’s Spider-Man as he bonded with and confronted a version of the symbiote in Spider-Man 3, so it knows a lot more about Spide-Man across the multiverse than anyone else. With that in mind, if Venom bonds with Ned and the symbiote retained its memories of Peter Parker, it could restore Ned’s memories of Peter. Another Reddit user added that getting his memories back thanks to the symbiote would further push Ned into a villainous path, as he would be understandably angry at Peter for not keeping his promise of coming back to him and MJ, making way for a rivalry between the two former best friends.
Ned becoming Venom in Spider-Man 4 would follow a Spider-Man trend (which was mentioned in No Way Home) of Peter’s best friends becoming villains, which happened to both Maguire and Garfield’s versions of the character. This would become an inevitability in Peter’s life across the multiverse, but it could have a twist if Ned indeed gets his memories back thanks to the symbiote, as that could also lead to his redemption and possibly to MJ getting her memories back, thus allowing Peter to get back two important parts of his past life. Ned being the MCU’s Venom would also solve the problem of bringing the symbiote and Spider-Man together, as in the mid-credits scene of No Way Home, Eddie and the rest of Venom were sent back to their universe as a result of Strange’s final spell, and even though the multiverse is quite unstable, their inclusion in the MCU is still quite tricky. The MCU has already made various changes to the characters from Marvel Comics and many events from the comics, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if Ned and Venom go through some significant changes, too.
A theory suggests that Spider-Man 4 will see Ned’s villainous transformation, but instead of becoming Hobgoblin, he will bond with Venom.
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