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You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up. Those puny little ants outnumber us a hundred to one. And if they ever figure that out, there goes our way of life! It's not about food; it’s about keeping those ants in line. "That's why we're going back! Does anybody else want to stay?
―Hopper to his gang about returning to Ant Island

Hopper is the main antagonist of Disney/Pixar's 1998 film A Bug's Life. He is the leader of the grasshoppers and Flik's arch-nemesis.

Background

Personality

Ruthless and violent, but also cunning, Hopper thinks nothing of killing ants, whom he considers lower than dirt, and his manner of speaking to Princess Atta is reminiscent of an abusive boyfriend mocking his terrified girlfriend. He also beats up his gang members, and even nearly kills three of them to keep control of his gang, though more or less also to demonstrate to them all in his own way what could happen should the ants realize their superior advantage in terms of numbers. He dislikes being thought of as weak in any way.

Hopper is also briefly depicted as a very anxious character. Indeed, during the Mexican bar scene, he expresses his gang the necessity of getting respect and obedience from the ants because they are far more numerous than them. He explains one rebel ant is enough to cause an entire colony's mutiny (which, ironically, will take place at the end of the movie). It should reveal a huge fear toward ants, hidden by his ruthless and dictatorial manners toward ants and even his troops.

In any case, Hopper sees mercy and compassion as weaknesses and relies mostly on fear to maintain control over both his gang and the ants. Although, on the contrary, he is slightly compassionate and merciful when he gives the ants a second chance to provide food for him and his gang after Flik accidentally knocks all the food into a puddle.

Hopper appears to have respect for his mother, as he did promise her when she died that he would not murder his brother Molt and stuck to that promise despite Molt irritating him at every turn, proving that for all his cruelty, he is a man (or insect in this case) of his word and this could be seen as his only redeemable quality.

Hopper's control-freak nature has also made him very reckless. When the ants finally revolt against the grasshoppers, Hopper is the only one to remain standing, which ends up with him losing his life via getting eaten by a bird that he thought was another fake.

The outtakes toned down his character slightly, such as him retreating to his trailer when Princess Atta in a flubbed take bluntly confirmed his accusation that he "looked stupid" to her, both due to being hurt by the remark and having to do multiple takes of the scene, evidently taking its toll on him.

Appearances

A Bug's Life

In the film, Hopper is a feared grasshopper who is blind in one eye due to a scratch caused by a past encounter with a bird. He leads his gang of grasshoppers, including his brother Molt and a restless, ruthless Thumper, who keep full control over the ants. Hopper, unlike his gang, does not underestimate the ants' strength; he knows that while weaker than the grasshoppers as individuals, the ants outnumber his gang a hundred to one.

During Hopper's first visit to the colony, the gang finds the food supply ruined, so he throws the blame on the ants and demands them to gather double the amount he has initially requested by the next season. Later, at their hangout in the desert, Molt tells Hopper about Axel and Loco's thoughts that there's no point in returning to Ant Island, much to his obvious angry disbelief; after demonstrating an example of the ants overpowering them using grain that buries Axel and Loco, he explains to the others that the ants pose a major threat to them, because they outnumber them considerably, and that they'll lose their entire way of life if the ants found out about this, and that their sole concern isn't food, but keeping the ants in line, which is the reason they are going back. When they return to Ant Island, he is dissatisfied with the amount of offering the ants give him after a second chance, he usurps the island and plots to kill the Queen after enough food has been gathered to ensure his dominance over the ants. After hearing from Dot about Hopper's plot, Flik and the circus troupe return to the island to rescue the Queen by putting his plan into motion. The Circus Bugs present their act in front of the grasshoppers to distract Hopper, who initially orders his henchmen to squish them, but later decides that they can use a little entertainment after seeing Tuck and Roll fight. After Manny takes the Queen for a magic trick, Hopper allows him to, even wanting Thumper down and gleefully thinking Manny will saw her in half. When he notices that the queen was missing after the act, he interrogates him to tell where she has gone by strangling him, only to be cut off by a fake bird, that the ants have made earlier in the season, which comes down swooping toward him.

Hopper is initially terrified at the sight of the bird, due to his fear of birds, but soon discovers the bird is fake when P.T. Flea helps him by setting it on fire. Hopper takes Dot hostage again. Furious and embarrassed, Hopper interrogates the ants, including Princess Atta, to find out who is responsible for the ruse. Flik then confesses that he is the one behind the plot, and Hopper signals to Thumper to savagely beat up Flik until he signals him to stop and asks Flik why he would do this to him. Flik reveals his foiled plan to squish the queen, horrifying all the ants. Hopper, disappointed about his plan being exposed, muses "I hate it when someone gives away the ending." and signals Thumper to kick Flik one last time. Then he declares how dangerous ideas can be and that ants are mindless, soil-shoving losers, who have put on this earth to serve the grasshoppers. But then, Flik manages to stand up to his feet and revolt against Hopper, revealing that ants are not meant to serve grasshoppers and are strong in number. Angered by Flik's defiance, Hopper knocks Flik to the ground and attempts to kill him. Before Hopper can do so, he is stopped by Atta, who also stands up to Hopper, much to his amusement.

Before he can threaten Atta, Hopper notices that the entire colony of ants and circus bugs are ready to fight back against the grasshoppers due being inspired by Flik's speech, bravery, and compassion. As the colony charges towards Hopper's gang, they abandon their leader and flee, leaving Hopper to be seized by the ants and trapped in a circus cannon, right at the time when a thunderstorm starts. Hopper then sees his chance to escape and shoots himself out of the cannon by rolling under Dim (who was knocked over by a raindrop) and activates his wings before flying towards Flik and takes him hostage as he flies away with him to get revenge on the ant for humiliating him and costing him his control over the colony by killing him.

The circus bugs chase after them to try to save Flik, but they only succeed in pulling off one of Hopper's antennae. However, Atta intervenes and swipes Flik away from Hopper, who chases after the two across the stream. He corners Flik near a bird's nest (unknown to him) and angrily questions Flik if he honestly thinks it's over and declares his actions only bought his colony time. Flik pleads and attempts to reason with him, but Hopper tightly grabs his neck and starts strangling him to death, declaring that he will rally more grasshoppers and return next season to destroy the colony and the Circus Bugs. Before he can, however, at that moment, a bird (the very same bird that wanted to eat Flik and the Circus Bugs before) pops out from the nest. Hopper, however, believing the bird to be another one of Flik's tricks and that there are little girls inside it, taunts the bird until she shrieks at him, making it very clear that she is real. Now realizing that Flik has led him straight into a trap, Hopper screams, and after dropping the ant, tries to flee in terror, but the bird, however, being faster than him, blocks his path. She snatches him in her beak in one swift move as Hopper tries to fly away and takes him to her nest, where her chicks are. Flik and Atta hide while watching in horror, as the screaming Hopper is eaten alive by the bird's chicks.

At the end of the movie, Tuck and Roll are shown jabbering on about their fight with Hopper while holding the piece of his antenna, which is all that remains of him.

Video games

A Bug's Life

In the video game, even though Hopper is also the main antagonist, he only appears in the last three levels of the game. A cutscene from the movie, where he throws a big leaf with some food on it over the ants, also appears when it's game over for the player when he/she loses all lives. However, in the Nintendo 64 version of the game, the scene that appears is not a cutscene from the film but a still "Game Over" screen showing Hopper's evil stare if Flik loses his lives, which could indicate that he and the grasshoppers have won.

Disney Parks

Walt Disney World

Hopper appears in It's Tough to Be a Bug!, despite getting eaten in the movie.

In the show, Filk and Hopper compete with each other. While Flik believes that humans are the bugs' friends, Hopper believes that humans are the bugs' enemies. Later throughout the show, Hopper claims that no one can stop him, but a chameleon sneaks into the stage and foils him. Hopper manages to escape the show to avoid getting eaten by the chameleon and as the reptile leaves the stage.

Gallery

Wiki
The Disney Wiki has a collection of images and media related to Hopper.

Trivia

  • Hopper's right eye got damaged after a bird nearly ate him.
  • Hopper had a soft spot for his mother, as he honors her deathbed wish not to kill Molt, despite being quite tempted to on various occasions, although many have debated if this is actual love or him simply trying to prove he can keep a promise.
  • Hopper serves as a darker reflection to Atta, representing what Atta would have become if she let the idea of power go to her head and didn't enjoy life with Flik’s help.
  • Hopper is the first Pixar villain to die, and the second Pixar character overall to die, after Combat Carl in Toy Story. However, he is the first Pixar character overall who is not an inanimate object to die.
  • Hopper is also the first Pixar antagonist who is an actual villain; Sid Phillips from Toy Story technically wasn't a real villain, he was just a kid doing what kids do to toys, not knowing that toys were sentient, intelligent beings who didn't like the way he was playing with them. Hopper, on the other hand, had many truly evil intents, such as making ants his slaves, forcing them to give him all the food on Ant Island thus starving the ants to death, and worst of all, plotting to kill their Queen.
  • Kevin Spacey was not the first choice to voice Hopper. John Lasseter previously offered the role twice to Robert De Niro, who turned it down. Lasseter met Spacey at the 1995 Academy Awards (where Toy Story won the Special Achievement award and was nominated for Best Original Song and Spacey won for Best Supporting Actor) and offered him the role, which he accepted.
  • Hopper's demise is notably similar to Scar's death; both villains are eaten by animals as Hopper was fed by a bird to her baby chicks while Scar was killed by his hyena minions who jumped on him and tore him to death.
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