Avengers: Endgame wrapped up a lot of story threads across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bringing 21 movies across 11 franchises to a huge, climactic conclusion. It didn't answer every question fans had about everything in the MCU, though, and in some cases, it created new ones. One of those new questions, specifically, is what the heck happened to Ned Leeds, Spider-Man's best friend?
The question derives from a particular moment at the end of Endgame. A new trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home gives us more of a sense about how the MCU's next movie will deal with the fallout from Endgame, but it still doesn't explain explain Ned's deal.
After the Avengers manage to gather all the Infinity Stones and undo Thanos's snap, all the people he wished away come back into the world. In the aftermath, there were some tearful reunions between people who turned to dust and people who haven't seen them in five full years--like the one between Peter Parker and Tony Stark. During their conversation during that reunion, Peter explained that it was Doctor Strange who informed him five years had elapsed since the snap occurred. But it sounds like from Peter's perspective, almost no time had passed since he "got all dusty." He didn't exist during those five years and remembered nothing from that time, it seems.
So then we have the reunion between Peter and Ned at the end of the movie, after Thanos has been defeated and all 50% of the life he wiped out of the universe has returned. It was a tearful, emotional moment between the two friends, taking place when Peter returned to high school seemingly for the first time since the Snap.
So wait a second: If both Peter and Ned got dusted, then basically no time would have passed for either of them, which means from their perspective, the last time they both saw each other would be maybe a few days or weeks earlier. But if Ned was all (understandably) emotional because he'd finally reunited with his pal Peter after a long last five years--why was Ned still in high school?
The question of whether Ned was just having a more emotional reaction than most to returning from a state of nonexistence, or if he's just not great at school, has vexed audiences since Avengers: Endgame's release. Fortunately, thanks to directors Joe and Anthony Russo, we finally have an answer.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the Russos clarified that Ned didn't get held back in school for years and years because of his trauma over Thanos, and specifically, the fact that Peter was not around to help him reconstruct his Lego Death Star. In fact, Ned was also dusted in the Snapture.
The scene we see between them in Endgame might be a more emotional reunion because Ned was consoling Peter on the death of Tony. Or maybe it was just that, even though the two of them had missed the last five years, the whole "alien invasion and ridiculous genocide" thing is, uh, a lot to cope with. So Ned and Peter are both going back to high school right where they left off, but what about the rest of Peter's class? Half should be twenty-somethings now, right? And perhaps most importantly: Are Martin Starr's Mr. Harrington and Hannibal Burress's Coach Wilson still teaching?
The trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home seems to suggest at least most of the important folks, such as Michelle and Flash, also missed the last five years of MCU history because of Thanos. We're still waiting to see how the aftermath of the Endgame time skip and the trauma of the Mad Titan's campaign affects everyone in Marvel's universe, though.
If you can't get enough Avengers: Endgame, we've got lots more coverage. Check out our full review of the movie; we've got rundowns of all the Easter eggs hidden throughout its three hours, and a list of every MCU character that appears in the film. You can also get an explanation of the movie's ending, and read our opinions on why Captain America's final moments don't match his character and how the movie lets down Black Widow and several other Avengers.