Sonic the Hedgehog fans complaining about Sonic the Hedgehog is nothing new. I should know – Sonic the Hedgehog was the very first video game I played when I was a kid, and throughout the years, I’ve tried to roll with the punches without feeling too bitter about the character’s years-long downturn. Sonic fans have learned to accept mediocrity over the past 15 years or so, but it seems that even Sonic‘s low points couldn’t prepare them for the official reveal of the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie.
The first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog dropped earlier this week, and though I predicted that the reaction to it would be mixed, it turned out to be a lot worse. Positivity about Sonic’s new look was hard to come by, if not straight up impossible to find. Fans were upset that Sonic had been so dramatically redesigned for his silver screen debut, and even people who don’t really have a dog in this race were left feeling uncomfortable in an uncanny valley sort of way.
After a couple of days of that familiar internet outrage, something surprising happened: Jeff Fowler, the director of Sonic the Hedgehog, took to Twitter to say that Sega and Paramount had heard the criticism and were committed to changing Sonic’s design before the movie premieres in November.
We don’t know what kind of changes Paramount will make to Sonic’s design, but presumably, it’ll bring the Blue Blur’s movie look more in line with the video games. It’s also unknown if the movie will be delayed because of this commitment to changing Sonic’s look, but for the sake of the animators and designers working on this movie, I sure hope it is. I don’t think it’d make anyone feel good to know that the computer animation artists – the unsung heroes of movies like Sonic the Hedgehog – had to work ungodly hours for not enough pay to change Sonic in time for an unchanging release date.
With that said, it’s hard to imagine what was going on at Paramount and Sega when they settled on this design for Sonic. It’s so far removed from what Sonic has looked like since 1991 that it may as well be a completely different character. Why Sega would want to take such a distinctive character and so wildly change his design is entirely beyond me.
Not only that, but Sega had a couple of really good examples of design changes going over poorly to consider in deciding whether or not it should change Sonic’s design. Anyone remember 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie and all the criticism it received for its “realistic” approach to the Turtles’ designs? Even Sega itself was on the receiving end of backlash after making what fans believed were largely unnecessary design changes to its roster of Sonic characters for the spin-off Sonic Boom.
Sega seemingly can’t resist the urge to keep reinventing Sonic, and the fact that it pressed on with his creepy, awkward movie design until the criticism drowned out everything else is evidence of that. I’m not saying that Sega should only ever stick to convention and never try anything new, but that first trailer definitely suggests that Sega is at point where it’s taking shots in the dark and hoping something sticks. It’s making change for the sake of change, and I’d argue that its flagship character deserves a little more careful thought.
Still, for my part, I’m happy that creepy Sonic existed for a little while, if only because it’s another example of what happens when you fly too close to the sun. I’m still not planning on seeing the movie even after hearing the news that Sonic’s design will change, but that’s mostly because years of awful video game adaptations have taught me to stay far away until I know it’s safe to watch. Hopefully the message fans are trying to send to Sega actually sticks this time around, because I’m not sure how much more those poor souls can take.