Spider-Man and his friends are home. When Screen Rant caught up with Jacob Batalon to discuss his work as Ned Leeds for Spider-Man: Far From Home's home video release (available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital now), the web-slinger's return to the MCU had just been announced. Needless to say, in addition to discussing how it was making the European sequel, alternate post-credits scenes and where Ned is going next, we got the low-down on what the new Sony/Marvel deal means for the actor.
It’s a very exciting time with Spider-Man, obviously. Big, big news that he's back.
Yeah, it’s a good time to be alive.
What was your first reaction to the big news that Spider-Man 3 is staying with Marvel?
I’m really happy. I think we were all really set to go with Sony. We were ready to just move on; to do the third one just with them. But we're more than happy to work with Marvel again.
Looking into the future, where do you see things developing for Spider-Man? And, more importantly, for Peter and Ned?
Oh, my goodness. I mean, there's just so many ways you could go with it. And, honestly, I think we’ve sort of given up on what we think is going to happen, because Jon and the creative team usually come up with something way better than we'll ever imagine. So, it’s tough.
Talking about unpredictable, Spider-Man: Far From Home’s mid-credits scene has such a mind-blowing twist with the identity reveal. When did you find out?
The week we were doing press in London, we were able to watch the movie. And it was really interesting. I’m not, like, a big Marvel fan, but watching that I knew something crazy was going to happen. I just know it's a really good story to build off of, and it's gonna be crazy. Even crazier in the next one.
Ned's reaction to it must be crazy, but how do you think he will react?
Well, we all filmed reactions to it. And I remember a bunch of screams, just like yelling and in shock noises – like gasping and crying, sort of.
So, originally, there was a montage of everyone else's reaction, not just Peter’s?
That's really cool. That's a shame it was cut. Speaking of deleted scenes, Far From Home is one of the first Marvel movies to have an extended cut. Are there any scenes you were involved in that you wish had been in the film?
I feel like films are made long just to be cut shorter. To be honest, I feel like we filmed so many things that it really is just a blur in my memory after a while. But I always think it all boils down to the major story beats, and what we want to get across all came out just fine. Personally, there wasn’t anything I was dying to be not on the cutting room floor.
Aside from Spider-Man movies, you've been in Avengers movies. You have a little bit at the start of Infinity War and a bit at the end of Endgame. How was the experience of doing a small part of those movies different?
I think it’s really nice that the Russos had thought about me enough to want to put me in their films, you know? And Kevin is an amazing mind; he's very intelligent. I feel like he is always thinking about the next step. Being around that motivates me to want to be continuously working and learning in the industry.
One of the toughest things with any Marvel movie, but especially with those two, was the secrecy and spoilers. How much of that were you privy to? Did you know the context of reuniting with Peter and end game? Or did you just know you're seeing each other? Did you know what was actually going on?
Because Far From Home was sort of connecting with Endgame, we learned that we all sort of vanished away and we came back. That really informed me about Endgame. Personally, as far as everything else, I feel like Tom spoiled everything for me years ago.
You’ve done two very different Spider-Man movies. One is set in New York; one goes all over Europe. How were the experiences of making these movies different, with both the locations and Ned's different roles?
I think the first one, compared to the second one, was so much smaller in terms of the story and the pacing. The second one was bigger production, bigger stunts; different locations, different countries. I feel that there's just so much that went into that. And, like you said, this was a very different level of story that we tried to portray. Really, it was just everything. I feel like, on the first one, we were all kind of nervous and just a little on-edge, because we didn't really know what we're doing. We were like teenagers. But we were able to ground ourselves and learn and make the second one even better with our continuity. And as far as the roles, I would never have expected Ned to have a girlfriend ever. So that was a very fun storyline to be a part of in Far From Home.
His relationship with Betty is obviously something that is in the very, very early comics. Did that add any pressure to the role, knowing that there was going to be scrutiny over how you guys acted?
I think that it was really just fan service, ultimately. That just further validates my theory about Ned becoming Hobgoblin, but hey.
Well, that's something I wanted to ask about. When it comes to Ned, that's one of the things that everyone talks about: his death and the Hobgoblin. It's so tragic and such a spectacle. That's something you want to do, then?
Yeah, definitely. What’s so great is that they're not gonna want me to die. They’re gonna want me to stay on and be a part of the Sinister Six. That's just my theory. I don't want to put too much nonsense out there.
It would definitely be a very good twist. In terms of making both movies, what would you say is probably the toughest scene that you've had to do?
I think the toughest thing for us is getting the energy and tone of it right. I think we wanted to make sure we had a balance of all the comedy, so it was really the scenes with the kids that we were working with the most. The scenes with the kids all together and the stunt scenes were pretty crazy, because there were explosions and stuff like that. Like, they closed down historical landmarks in London. Sort of those things.
A lot of Ned’s scenes are independent from what Spider-Man's doing in the movie, like most of the Jake Gyllenhaal/Mysterio stuff happens with Tom. Did you wish there was more of a chance for Ned to get involved in that weird and wacky side of things?
I feel like Ned really enjoys the fact that he could possibly be a part of the superhero stuff. Personally, I don’t mind either way what they do with Ned. I feel like he's just there to do what Peter wants all the time regardless. I have no quarrel, but I understand why fans would was to see Ned taking on an action role. That'd be really fun, as well.
You do get to act alongside Jon Favreau in this one; he’s a fantastic guy in every respect. How was he to work with? Because he obviously started this whole thing, but now he’s very happy to come in and be Happy.
It’s great to actually get to know him and understand him as a person, and to really just see how he operates at work. He’s so inspiring. I feel like he's just an amazing guy, and really just a genuine person who is so smart and so caring at the same time.
I was on the set of Far From Home, which was a fantastic experience, and I saw you guys rehearsing the bit in the Tower of London. What was so cool about that scene was how much improv you guys were getting to do. In the final movie, it's a very clean back-and-forth of everyone confessing their personal things, but you guys went through so many versions of it. Is that true of a lot of scenes in the movie? How much improv do you get to do?
I feel like we’re given a lot of space to make different choices. I really feel like they let me improvise a lot because I just never remember my lines, and it's just a lot funnier when we riff more organically. Reading the lines for us is kind of tough, as well. Our chemistry works because it comes organically.
Looking forward, one of the other wrinkles in the latest development is that it's also going to potentially involve the Venom and Sony Villain universe. Is that something you'd be interested in being involved with, in addition to being in the mainline Spider-Man stuff?
I would love that. That’d be really amazing to just meet them; it’d be really awesome. Everything is possible with the universe, but I just feel like we don't really know anything that specific. But it would be amazing.
Aside from Spider-Man, what have you got coming up? What's next? What do you want to talk about that isn't related to Peter Parker?
I’ve got a film coming out called Let It Snow. It’s coming out in late November, I believe? I'm filming something in Vancouver next month, but I can’t really talk about it [yet.] That’s it, really. I’ve already done a bunch of independent films and things like that beforehand, so really, it’s been constant work.
This isn’t the only big Kevin Feige news of the week. He’s also doing a Star Wars movie, and the reports say he's talking to an actor. Is that you?
I can’t speak about work, if you know what I mean. But stay tuned.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021) release date: Jul 16, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Panther 2 (2022) release date: May 06, 2022