“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” created over 240 unique characters who feature across the six different universes in the film, but Daniel Kaluuya‘s Hobart “Hobie” Brown (aka Spider-Punk) was one of the last characters production designer Patrick O’Keefe and head of character Alan Hawkins dove into.
Speaking with Variety, Hawkins says the character went through a lot of design tests. “Those tests were educational in that they didn’t work, and we learned about how not to do them.” After that, the character was put on the shelf while the animators refined his design.
Writers and producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller revealed in an interview with EW that the anarchic, anti-establishment superhero was nearly cut from the film. But Spider-Punk came together once Kaluuya came on board.
“You’d think the punk character would be agitating, big and boisterous, but the more time we spent with him and saw reads from Daniel, we saw that wasn’t his vibe at all. He was cool and controlled,” Hawkins said.
That cool factor became the priority for capturing in animation, so the team looked at what made a person cool. For Hobie, that meant he wasn’t moving very much. Says Hawkins, “He’s settled and relaxed in his pose. He would use that to wind up Miles a bit. He’s a low-key agitator. And that made him a richer character rather than ‘Fuck everything’ and throwing things around.”
When it came to his character design, they knew he would have a “zine look.” While the other characters had the same frame rate per second, Spider-Punk had different frame rates on different parts of his body. Says Hawkins, “His guitar is the lowest frame rate of anything in the movie which is usually 6-8 frames per second — which is almost no motion. So, it was an interesting thing to figure out and not have that take over.”
Adds O’Keefe, “It feels everything is handmade and he’s done it himself. His personality is in every inch of the costume with the drawn-on eyes.”
Spider-Punk’s world palette was derived from famous punk posters. Says Hawkins, “He’s moving through the history of punk.”
O’Keefe adds that they gravitated to someone whose world subverted the expectation. “We wanted his world to feel like you were walking into your favorite underground illegal punk club, and you’re running your fingers along the walls of years of punk posters such as the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks and My Chemical Romance that have been layered on top of each other.”
Furthermore, the animators looked at how to incorporate music into animation and visually represent the power of music. Says O’Keefe, “Music is everything. His sound waves become his power, so when he does a sonic boom, it blows everything apart — and we see that in his montage — it’s the emotional power of music. It’s such a different thing from the rest of the Spider-verse. It’s about being true to each character, and music is what he will use to set them free, it’s a form of expression.”
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is now available on digital and will be available on 4K UHD & Blu-ray on September 5.