For the first time in big-screen Spider-Man history, Peter Parker has a true best friend beside him on a trilogy of adventures in Jacob Batalon’s Ned Leeds. The character is the self-proclaimed “guy in the chair” and a true confidant to Spider-Man even before Zendaya's M.J. learns the truth about the web-slinger. As Batalon’s fifth MCU appearance comes to theaters in the form of the highly-anticipated Spider-Man: No Way Home, the actor is reflecting on Ned’s impact on the Asian community.
Jacob Batalon is Hawaiian-born and the son of Filipino parents, and he caught his big break at the age of 21 with the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming. Along with bringing some hilarious moments to the MCU Spider-Man films, seeing a character like Ned Leeds be best friends and take part in some of the action with Spider-Man has been a major moment of on-screen representation for Filipino boys and men and the larger Asian community. CinemaBlend’s own Law Sharma recently spoke with Jacob Batalon and asked the actor when he realized his impact. He said,
Ned Leeds breaks the mold for the Asian community in the Spider-Man movies because he’s truly embraced as a main character in the films. Since Homecoming, Ned has been the right-hand man to Peter Parker as he navigates being a superhero and a high school kid. Jacob Batalon continued, saying
It’s been four years since Jacob Batalon began his run as a Spider-Man star and it sounds like he’s really grown into the role of not only being the globally recognized best friend to Tom Holland’s Spidey, but also being a voice within Hollywood’s growing Asian community. Batalon is unfortunately one of the few Filipino young actors being represented in major studio films, especially films with such a large audience.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is set to be one of the biggest movies of the year, with projections prognosticating the Marvel film will have massive opening numbers, bolstered by amazing reviews from critics, including CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg (who gave the film a perfect five out of five in his review).
At this moment in time, Jacob Batalon feels the weight of being a symbol of the Asian community on the big screen, but while his presence in the MCU is progress, it goes to show that there’s a lot more work to be done in Hollywood to represent different communities through characters in cinema, such as Filipino-Americans like Ned Leeds.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is playing in theaters now.
YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.
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