"Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse" is, to quote /Film's own Valerie Ettenhofer, "some 'Train Pulling Into a Station'-level s***." If the first film felt like a shock to the Western animation system, this is both the eulogy of the old system and the birth of a new era. "Into the Spider-Verse" is one of the best movies ever made, at least according to our recent list, and somehow, against all odds, "Across the Spider-Verse" improves on virtually every single aspect of the first one. Sure, it has a cliffhanger ending due to it being part one of two, but the cliffhanger works so well it's hard to think of it as a negative.
Sure, it's easy to take for granted that this movie would look gorgeous, and it does, but to see it in front of your eyes defies expectations and descriptors. Whether it's the grand designs of the many new worlds, the punk rock ability to combine mediums and styles, or the ability to break down not just animation, but film itself.
Then there's the actual story, which breaks the mold of trying to just emulate "Empire Strikes Back," instead delivering the first half of a two-part finale that's more like "The Matrix Reloaded," an ambitious film that interrogated the very idea of heroes and tropes, all while still delivering an exciting, and most importantly, poignant coming-of-age story for not just Miles, but also for Gwen.
There's so much to dissect, to praise, and to be in awe of in "Across the Spider-Verse," starting with the dozens of new characters, of which the coolest one is without a doubt Spider-Punk, played by Daniel Kaluuya.
The Coolest Character
Hobie Brown, aka Spider-Punk, first appeared in the 2015 comic crossover "Spider-Verse." Originally, he was meant as an alternate version of Prowler who became Spider-Man when he was accidentally bitten by a spider. He even kills President Osborn by smashing his head with a guitar during a riot.
When we first hear about Hobie, he is mostly teased as a rival to Miles, a guy we sense Gwen has a crush on or is maybe even in a relationship with. The movie clearly hints at yet another tired love triangle, but thankfully Hobie is much more than that.
From the moment we see him, gorgeously animated, like newspaper clips hand-cut and pasted together, Hobie is unlike any other character in the film. He oozes cool, looks like a mix of Lenny Kravitz and Bob Vylan, is badass in a fight, has a Camden Town accent, and actually thinks Miles is cool himself! The two actually hit it off from the beginning, respecting and admiring each other, seemingly free of ill feelings.
'It's A Metaphor For Capitalism'
Unsurprisingly, Spider-Punk was one of the hardest characters to animate. As director Joaquim Dos Santos told Discussing Film, they emulated the cut-out style of punk rock art but also made the character break animation rules by animating his clothes at different frame rates from his body. "When the perspective shifts hard enough, his jacket will just be held and then it will quickly pop to the next perspective," Dos Santos said. "But his body and his head are moving at a different frame rate."
More importantly, Spider-Punk is a rare example of an anarchist depicted as cool rather than naive or hypocritical. Hobie is truly and fervently against the establishment, joking about capitalist constructs and imagery, immediately calling Miguel out on his hypocrisy and oppression, and rejoicing when Mayday wreaks chaos. He doesn't just talk the talk, but comes through, and even aids Miles in fighting the dumb Spider Society. He is different from the other Spider-People, yet still very much hits at the core of what being Spider-Man is, fighting for good and helping out others.
"Across the Spider-Verse," like its predecessor, is all about breaking rules and proposing that animation, storytelling, and superhero movies, don't have to adhere to conventions. There is perhaps no character that best exemplifies that goal than Spider-Punk.
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