Ryan Meinerding, one of Marvel Studios' chief concept artists and character designers, recently shared a look at some concept art he worked on for the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And while Meinerding's Peter Parker clearly resembles Spider-Man: Homecoming star Tom Holland, his friend, Ned Leeds, looks nothing like Jacob Batalon, who would go on to portray him in the film.
In Homecoming, Ned is played by Filipino actor Jacob Batalon, indicating that this piece, which featured a leaner take on the character, was likely created prior to his casting. Despite the obvious differences, however, it's clear that Marvel was looking for a person of color before eventually casting Batalon.
Though Ned is never actually given a last name in the script or the film, it's accepted knowledge that he is a version of Ned Leeds, a supporting character in the Spider-Man franchise for over 20 years. Leeds made his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #18 from 1964, and spent time as the supervillain Hobgoblin, before he was killed off in 1987's Spider-Man versus Wolverine.
Marvel has gone on record to say that Ned is actually a composite of several different characters, with the unofficial belief that he was based in part on Ganke Lee, the best friend of Miles Morales, aka the Ultimate Universe's Spider-Man.
In theaters now, director Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming stars Tom Holland as Spider-Man and Michael Keaton as Vulture, in addition to Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.