How Indian Spider-Man Pavitr Prabhakar got his yo-yo

And how one of the film’s directors pitched it via the creative team’s WhatsApp group.

At the recent VIEW Conference in Turin, befores & afters got to sit down with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse director Joaquim Dos Santos to discuss the movie.

A fun story he shared was how the Indian Spider-Man character Pavitr Prabhakar came to dynamically wield a yo-yo as a weapon in the film’s stunning falling sequence in Mumbahattan.

Basically, Dos Santos pitched this idea to writers/producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and the rest of the creative team after watching his own son play with a yo-yo at home.

Then the director had to convince the team that the yo-yo was the right element of the character to include–Phil Lord literally replied on the creative teams’ WhatsApp group with: “I like it, but should I?”

I’m going to let Dos Santos explain below how the yo-yo weapon made it into the film, which was lucky as Imageworks had gone down a significant level of R&D before it had actually been finally signed off.

Read on, below.

Joaquim Dos Santos: In our hunt for a story, for finding the character in the piece, we were looking for ways to show how the character of Pavitr Prabhakar could support Miles and also how he could have fun as a spider person.

I was just videotaping my son playing with a yo-yo while we were sitting at home one night and he was totally enthralled with it. He had no idea what he was doing, but he was really excited by it.

I pitched it to Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and [fellow directors] Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson. We have this thread called Whammer Jammers, and when I had pitched it, the initial reaction was like, ‘Hey, cool, give it a shot.’

So we did. We went down this whole path of testing it out and boarding entire sequences with it, and it was working really, really well. But I didn’t hear a peep from Phil and Chris. And then about six months later, I asked, because at this point we were doing the art of book and we were starting to get first editorial back on that and some of the images had Pav with his yo-yo.

I asked, ‘Hey, how are we feeling on the yo-yo thing?’ And Phil in his most Phil-possible-answer says, ‘I like it, but should I?’ It’s sort of Phil’s way of testing you, like, ‘Do you believe in the idea? How much do you think it’s the right decision?’ It’s the magic power that Phil has.

Joaquim Dos Santos at VIEW Conference.

What’s crazy is, we were so far down the line that if we were to bail on it now, it would’ve crashed the system. We would’ve lost a lot of money. But I think the fact that both Phil and Chris were willing to call that bluff every single time, no matter where we’re at in the process, is what allows them to yield the results that they do.

But, inspiration comes from all places and you just have to listen. Sometimes it’s on the script page, sometimes it comes as part of the process. Sometimes it’s literally your kid in front of you playing with a yo-yo that just gives you the idea.

There are times where months will go by and we’ll go down a path and then, justifiably, sometimes those paths will have seemed like they were worth going down but will prove to be fruitless and they’ll die on the vine. But with this one, it went pretty far down–because we had done other versions of this scene where Pavitr had different power sets and it just wasn’t quite coming together.

So this was the one that felt like it was really sticky. I would’ve been crestfallen emotionally if they had said, ‘We’re not going to do the yo-yo.’ I felt really personally tied to it, but also I think from a pipeline perspective, we would’ve taken a major hit. Luckily, it turned out great.

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