Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse did the impossible. And no, I don’t mean being a sequel film that far exceeds the emotional heights of its predecessor (don’t @ me). Across The Spider-Verse, you’ll note, is the only animated film to grace us with the outspoken brilliance of Spider-Punk, AKA Hobie Brown. I’m talking about this guy:
In a film where oddball Spider-variants like the Spider-Mobile, Spider-Rex, a sentient Spider-Man ice cream bar, and Scarlet graced the silver screen, Spider-Punk’s underside-of-the-pillow level of cool-guy energy stole every ensemble scene he was in. Turns out I’m not alone in thinking that. Since Across the Spider-Verse’s theatrical release on June 2, droves of fan art and fan cams of Hobie Brown have been doing the rounds online. The thematic throughline for all of these trinkets of adoration is that Spider-Punk is just the coolest guy around.
Here are five reasons why Spider-Punk is the coolest Spider-Man in Across the Spider-Verse.
He’s the alt-punk Black representation animation has been needing
Pop culture has only had two recent depictions of bewitching Black characters with an evocative alt-punk design: Kat from horror auteur Jordan Peele’s Netflix stop-motion animated film, Wendell & Wild, and now Spider-Verse’s Hobie Brown. While these types of characters typically give off an unapproachable vibe, Hobie’s flavor of punk-rock cool is that he’s mysterious and aloof while being approachable and soft toward people he likes. To make matters better, whenever he’s not being the coolest Spider-Man, Hobie’s “playing shows, antagonizing fascists,” and “staging unpermitted political actions/performing art pieces.” That’s what we call a quadruple threat.
He’s voiced by Daniel Kaluuya
Half of what makes Hobie such a cool Spider-Man is the voice-acting chops of the Academy Award-winning actor, Daniel Kaluuya. Kaluuya, who just so happens to have been born in London, England’s Camden, “the birthplace of punk,” puts on a captivating performance in any role he inhabits. Since his breakthrough performance as Bing in the Black Mirror episode Fifteen Million Merits, Kaaluuya put on haunting performances as the star of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Nope and won his first Academy Award for his portrayal of Fred Hampton in Judas & The Black Messiah. Kaluuya letting his suave London accent out in full force while voicing Hobie, something he rarely does in his recent films, was the cherry on top of all his iconic Spider-Verse lines.
He is the mentor Miles (and Gwen) deserve
Hobie’s cool-guy bravado coupled with his cheerleading for Miles is what makes his character so touching in Across the Spider-Verse. While a majority of supporting characters in AtSV spend the majority of the film determining what is best for Miles, Hobie took on the role of a supportive mentor silently aiding Miles and Gwen toward his goals. For example, when Miles is having his version of an existential Spider-verse intervention, Hobie roots for him when he pushes back against being called a kid, and even gives him “a bit of advice” to focus his venom powers on his palms, thus allowing Miles to escape Miguel O’Hara’s trap. Hobie smirks when Miles makes his great escape. And when Gwen is contemplating whether or not she should hide the fact that Miles is an anomaly in the Spider-Verse, Hobie, unlike Spider-Woman and Peter B. Parker, tells her that she should.
I posit Hobie’s guiding principle for helping Miles, aside from being a bit of Black solidarity, stems from his hatred of consistency i.e. Spider-Men being beholden to “canon events.” I guess that’s what happens when your best friend becomes the tyrannical president of the United States in your universe. You’ve gotta rage against the machine, even if the machine in question are the very laws that governs your multi-dimensional reality.
His design is insanely cool and took forever to make
Aside from being designed by Evan Monteiro, an illustrator who helped design Mel Medarda in Arcane, Spider-Punk took a big chunk of Spider-Verse’s five-year development time to animate. In a recent interview with Discussing Film, director Justin K. Thompson revealed that it took “two or three years” to get right.
Thompson told Discussing Film that, because the character represents the punk-rock nature of rejecting norms, authority, and traditional ideas, he and his fellow directors wanted Punk’s animation style to encompass the breaking of animation norms as well with a ‘zine-esque outline.
“We just thought, ‘What if that was actually what the character looked like?’ So we developed all these crazy technical tools,” Thompson said. “They start with this traditional animation pass, and then the tools that we developed can adapt all the different parts of him to all these different custom looks we created that are based on classic punk rock posters. And we can assign all these body parts very distinct emotional beats wherever we wanted them to appear like sudden visual changes. I think that process probably took two or three years to develop, and we really only came together like right at the end.”
According to director Joaquim Dos Santos, Spider-Verse broke “a lot of rules for an animated film” by having Spider-Punk’s jacket animated at a different framerate from the rest of his body whenever he moves.
‘Don’t watch the mouth, watch the hands’
Because we live in a digital wild-west age of internet, there are all sorts of easter eggs and freeze-frame moments from Spider-Verse circulating all over TikTok. While fans were quick to point out the subtle parallel scenes between Into the Spider-Verse and Across the Spider-Verse, like Miles implementing Peter B. Parker’s advice to not “watch the mouth, watch the hands” while plotting his escape at the end of the film, we actually see this patented bit of Spidey misdirection earlier in the film with Hobie and Miles.
Turns out, Hobie might have been the person to assemble the new Spider-watch Gwen would use to gather a team of Spider-people to save Miles. Initially spotted by TikTok user @ccdeviltown2, Hobie can be seen crafting the parts for a new watch while walking with Miles toward what will be his battle against the entire Spider-Verse. What makes Hobie’s dramatic exit from the ensuing spider scuffle such a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment is that he drops the new watch just before he walks back into his dimension portal. Hobie also joins Gwen and her friends in rescuing Miles at the end of the film. Talk about playing 4D chess.