In just a few months, Sony will once again take a crack at bringing Peter Parker to life on screen when Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters. This time, however, it will have Marvel Studios helping craft the vision, and will benefit from the exposure the character received in Civil War last year. Sony will also take a cue from the comics by focusing on Peter's time as a high school student for the foreseeable future. While previous films have originated with Peter as a teen superhero, those stories have quickly moved on. Homecoming, by contrast, will try and focus on a coming of age story with the trappings of a comic book film.
Part of that focus will involve surrounding Peter with others his age. Chief among them will be a reimagined version of Ned Leeds, who will have a tight bond with Peter. We already know from the latest trailer that Ned will learn Peter's secret, enabling the Wall Crawler to have a rare confidant. In the comics, Peter's often alone in his pursuits, but not all Spider-Men operate this way. When Brian Michael Bendis introduced Miles Morales to his Ultimate Spider-Man book, he quickly established Miles' friend Ganke Lee as being in on the character's identity. Of course, some have accused Homecoming of appropriating Ganke as the basis for Ned, but what does the character's creator think?
“I’ve not seen ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming,’ so I’m gonna wait until we see what we see. But, yeah, it was bizarre and flattering. I don’t even know if Ganke was the inspiration, or they just got to their own place with a character like this on their own. I don’t know. It does seem like it might have been, but no one’s told me either way. There’s so much else in that trailer that’s from ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ that I would assume that, yes, it is… It’s weird only because Ganke wasn’t part of Peter’s story — he was part of Miles’ story.”
As Bendis noted, he's created a number of characters in the past that Marvel has introduced into the MCU, and he seems happy with them. Of course, it's the company's prerogative whether they alter those characters in any way, and every example Bendis laid out has had that done. The main difference with the Ned/Ganke discussion is that it's not clear Bendis' character has been adapted. Until the film comes out, it will be tough to decide how similar they are.
While Ned Leeds is generally an older man and employee of the Daily Bugle in the comics, the inclusion of a young, Asian-American friend for Peter doesn't ultimately mean he's playing Ganke. In fact, the whole debate is rather reductive. More likely, Marvel didn't want to repeat themselves by introducing Harry Osborn again as Peter's one friend. They've said as much in regard to reusing villains, so it makes sense to give Pete a classmate on his level to relate to, versus the same rich kid he's pals with in every iteration of Spider-Man.
On the other hand, fans may be upset about the inclusion of a Ganke-like character in Peter's story as it may exclude a similar character from being introduced if Miles ever comes to life on screen. We know he'll be the star of Sony's upcoming animated Spider-Man film, so does Ned's existence in Homecoming prevent Ganke from appearing in that movie? Only time will tell, and we'll likely only truly know once both films are released. For Spider-Man: Homecoming, that wait won't be much longer.
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