Animation is an interesting art form. Though characters are often conceived at the very beginning, they don’t fully materialize until a voice actor is brought on, with the direction they take bringing a new dimension to it, and sometimes changing it all together, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse provides one such example.
Into the Spider-Verse introduced us to several Spider-People, but Across the Spider-Verse went above and beyond that. In one scene, we witness more than 600 variants, Spider-Men, women, horses… there were a lot. One of the last characters that was worked on was actually one of the standouts of the film, and that was Hobart “Hobie” Brown, also known as Spider-Punk.
As per Variety, production designer Patrick O’Keefe and head of character Alan Hawkins left Spider-Punk until last, but it wasn’t until they matched the actor to the character that magic really started to happen. Hawkin’s explained that in the creation phase there was a lot of testing, and they were “educational in that they didn’t work, and we learned about how not to do them.”
Spider-Punk was even put on the shelf as they focused on others, as they just weren’t figuring out how to get him right. Kaluuya’s take on the character gave animators something fresh and new to work with, with Hawkins saying, “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.”
From this interpretation of the character came new ideas, such as slowing down the frame rate of the character, with different body parts even having different frame rates, his guitar being the slowest thing in the whole movie. They even made sure that the music was a huge part of the animation as well, as per 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.”
This cooler-than-ice character became one of the breakout favorites, with his delight in anarchy even driving the story forward, not bad for a character that was almost written out, eh? Sometimes, it just takes the right voice, the right take on a character to really bring things together, so thank god they brought Kaluuya on and we got the Spider-Punk we never knew we wanted.