As we wait for the latest incarnation of an onscreen Norman Osborn, keep your eyes on two other Goblins from Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery of villains.
I’ve written extensively about Norman Osborn changing the MCU, and I stand by that prediction. I see him ascending to the throne of Marvel’s “big bad” villain who poses an Avengers-level threat. Because of that, I don’t see him wearing the Green Goblin costume and throwing pumpkin bombs. Instead, he will appear as Iron Patriot and bring the Dark Avengers into the mix.
While I can’t picture Norman as the Green Goblin, that’s not to say there won’t be at least one Goblin terrorizing the MCU.
First Appearance as Ned Leeds: Amazing Spider-Man #18
First Appearance as Hobgoblin: Amazing Spider-Man #238
This may be the most likely choice. First of all, we already have Ned Leeds well established in the MCU. Of course, he has been portrayed as an overweight teenager so far, but with the right body shaping on the actor’s part (after all, this is Hollywood, where major body transformations aren’t out of the ordinary), he could look the part. As comics fans know, Ned Leeds was the original Hobgoblin after he stumbled upon the Green Goblin’s safe house. He then put all of Norman’s old equipment to his own use and changed the color scheme.
This could play out in grand fashion on the big screen. Having Ned turn against his best friend, Peter Parker, and having the mystery of the Hobgoblin’s identity looming over the plot would make for great cinema and a fun twist on the story. There are so many possibilities with Ned becoming Hobgoblin that it wouldn’t make sense for Marvel to not use this story in some fashion.
First Appearance (as Harry): Amazing Spider-Man #31
First Appearance (as Green Goblin): Amazing Spider-Man #136
One of the more popular story lines from the bronze age was the death of Gwen Stacy and the emergence of a second incarnation of Green Goblin. In the comics, after Norman Osborn aided in Gwen’s death, he was killed by his own glider. Years later, a second Goblin emerged. Eventually, Spidey discovered that this new Goblin was his former best friend, Harry Osborn.
While there’s been no confirmation of either of the Osborns being added to the MCU, the indications that Norman is soon to make his debut are too much to ignore. By including Norman, it would make sense for him to bring his son, Harry, along for the ride. Harry could then be established as Peter’s new friend only to have him become the MCU’s one and only Green Goblin while Norman sports the Iron Patriot armor.
A COMBINATION OF THE TWO?
A very likely route would be for the two origin stories to be combined, and Ned would become the Goblin in one sense or another. Like the bronze age story of Harry and Peter, Ned could be manipulated and twisted into either the Green Goblin or Hobgoblin, especially if Norman Osborn is in the MCU. If Norman has been introduced before then, it would be logical to have Oscorp brainwash Ned and transform him into one of the goblins just to torment Spider-Man. In fact, this could be the entire point of having Ned as Peter’s best friend in the MCU.
Since Homecoming, fans have wondered why Spider-Man needed a goofy sidekick, and it was especially curious that they chose the name Ned Leeds when the MCU Ned has nothing in common with the Ned from the comics. However, that could change with the right plot twists, and that may have been the plan from the start. Marvel likes to play chess with the audience’s emotions. Look at the Tony Stark/Peter Parker relationship. From Civil War to Homecoming, the studio established Iron Man as Peter’s surrogate father figure only to rip them apart and break the audiences’ hearts in gut-wrenching scenes in both Infinity War and Endgame. Who’s to say we’re not being set up for another tear-jerking moment when Ned turns on Peter?