Earlier this week IGN caught everyone by surprise through a surprise first look at the upcoming live-action “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie. Shared via their official Instagram account, the teaser saw the revelation of the somewhat-terrifying official poster for the upcoming Paramount Pictures film. Set to begin screening on November 8, 2019, in North America, before receiving further release in Australia and the United Kingdom on November 28 and December 26 respectively, the film casts Ben Schwartz as the voice of an unfortunately hairy Sonic.
With the tagline “A whole new speed of hero”, fans are left to wonder whether this is going to try and do the Sonic franchise any service or whether it’s just going to be yet another attempt to cash in on the hype surrounding live-action adaptations using a pre-established intellectual property.
To be honest, the first time I saw the teaser circulating I couldn’t help but think it was just a joke made by a fan. It seems like such an odd choice to bring Sonic into a live-action scenario, especially in the way that it’s presented for this film. With this iteration, it’s clear that Paramount Pictures are prioritizing human-like proportions and anatomy over what fans recognize. Pair this with a rather messy coat of hair (which was arbitrarily deemed necessary), and it creates quite an uncanny concoction.
This is not even mentioning the disproportionately large head, which seems to want to stay true to Sonic’s regular design at the cost of making this new iteration looking like track runner with a gigantic mascot mask. Not only does it look incredibly goofy, but it also makes the character look very unbalanced. Adding to this, the filmmakers have mentioned that there have been some bumps in the design when it comes to the eyes, given that Sonic is most regularly seen at an angle where only one eye is visible. Their currently unveiled design choice has been said to spark concern from SEGA themselves. Many fans are worried about this betrayal of Sonic’s cartoony nature and speculate that it serves as a huge “red flag” for what is to come.
One equally interesting but less discomforting aspect of the design comes from the shoes. With the production team having updated his kicks in order to be more “modern” and work with the “more realistic” version of the character. While that particular design philosophy doesn’t fit well with people for the rest of the character, it will be interesting to see what they end up putting forward. We may be seeing the formation of a trend here given recent superhero movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and its protagonists iconic Air Jordan 1’s, which have gone on to see a real-life release from Nike on December 14.
As for the narrative, not much can be gauged for now. Given the nature of the cast, it would be a safe bet to expect strong comedic elements in the movie. That being said, given the fact that James Marsden is 46 years old and playing Sonic’s accomplice, it also wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think that this movie will be targeting a “mature” audience. Not only is this a bit out of whack with what fans of the series are craving, but the whole realistic live-action aspect may spark a bit of an unwanted flashback to the infamous 2006 Sonic the Hedgehog game, in which there were some uncomfortable plot points involving the relationship between a certain hedgehog and a human character.
While it wouldn’t be fair to draw conclusions based on this teaser alone, it does set up some pretty big red flags. At the very least it gives people something to keep their eyes out on between now and the movie’s November 8, 2019 release, whether or not that desire is fueled by genuine excitement or morbid curiosity. If anything, fans should be ready to expect something that’s catered to a wide audience rather something that’s designed with them in mind, because right now what we know definitely doesn’t align itself with the core ethos of the better-loved parts of the franchise.