- "You are mindless, soil-shoving losers put on this Earth to serve us."
- —Hopper insulting the colony
Hopper is a main character in A Bug's Life. He is a tough and mean grasshopper and gang leader.
A Bug's Life
"Tough, mean Hopper leads through fear. Cruel, heartless, and absolutely ruthless, he doesn't even hesitate to bury his own followers in a grain avalanche. With a thick exoskeleton that cracks and rattles like armor, and spiny legs and feet, Hopper towers over the ants looking like their worst nightmare. However, Hopper has a flaw: He believes he is smarter than anyone else. When Flik leads him to the nest of a real bird, Hopper thinks it is just another trick, and that he is too sharp to be fooled again. He's wrong."
In the film, Hopper is a feared grasshopper who is blind in one eye due to a scratch caused by a previous encounter with a blue jay. He leads his gang of grasshoppers, including his brother named Molt and his violent and savage enforcer named 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. When he is dissatisfied with the amount of offering the ants give him after a second chance, he usurps Ant Island and plots to squash the Queen after enough food has been gathered. 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 Manny takes the Queen for a magic trick, Hopper 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 ornithophobia (fear of birds), but soon discovers the bird is fake when P.T. Flea sets it on fire. Hopper angrily takes Dot hostage again. Furious and embarrassed, he interrogates the ants, including Princess Atta, to find out who is responsible for the ruse. Flik defensively orders Hopper to leave Atta, Dot, and Dot's friends alone and then confesses that the bird was his idea. Hopper signals Thumper to beat up Flik. After five kicks, Hopper signals him to stop. He then signals Thumper to give Flik one last kick. Hopper then declares how dangerous ideas can be and that ants are mindless, soil-shoving losers, put on this earth to serve the grasshoppers. But then, a black-eyed 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 advances toward Flik and knocks him to the ground. Before Hopper can execute Flik, he is stopped by Atta.
Inspired by Flik's speech, the entire colony of ants stands up against the grasshoppers. 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 towards Flik, whom he takes hostage as he flies away with him in revenge for being humiliated.
The circus bugs chase after them to try to save Flik, but they only succeed in pulling off one of Hopper's antennae and Hopper proceeds to tow Flik away to his doom. However, Atta intervenes and swipes Flik away from him. Hopper chases after the two across the stream. He corners Flik near a bird's nest, strangles him, and declares how so much time has been wasted by Flik's tricks and that he will rally more grasshoppers and return next season. A bird pops out from the nest, but Hopper, believing the bird to be another one of Flik's tricks, taunts the bird until it shrieks at him. Now realizing that this bird is the real one, Hopper screams, drops Flik and tries to flee, but the bird, however, turns out to be faster than him as it snatches him in its beak in one swift move and takes him to its nest, where he is eaten 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 a piece of his antenna, which is all that is left of him.
A Bug's Life: The Video Game
In the video game, even though Hopper is also a main character, 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.
It's Tough to Be a Bug!
Hopper appears in It's Tough to Be a Bug!, despite his death in the movie.
In the show, Flik and Hopper compete with each other. While Flik believes that humans are the bugs' friends, Hopper believes that humans are the bugs' enemies.
Manipulative, ruthless and violent, but also devious, Hopper thinks nothing of slaughtering ants, who he considers lower than dirt. His manner of speaking to Princess Atta is reminiscent of an abusive boyfriend ridiculing his frightened girlfriend, and his manner of confronting Flik is reminiscent of an arrogant and overly prideful leader and his desperate and clumsy rival. However, he is somewhat compassionate as seen when he gives the ants a second chance at providing food after they fail miserably. He also roughs his gang members up, and even presumably slaughters two of them to keep control of his gang. He dislikes being thought of as weak in any way.
Hopper is also briefly depicted as a very agitated 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 the entire colony's mutiny (which, ironically, will take place at the end of the movie). It must reveal a huge fear toward ants, hidden by his heartless and tyrannical 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.
- 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.
- In the bloopers of the film, Hopper is shown to be a very serious actor and gets annoyed or upset when Atta and Molt laugh at his acting.
- 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 for Best Original Song and Spacey for Best Supporting Actor) and offered him the role, which he accepted.
- In the film, after Thumper beats up Flik, he calls the colony "mindless soil-shoving losers," but in the read-along storybook, he calls them "mindless soil-sucking losers." The reason for this difference is unknown.