When the world got its first look at live-action Sonic almost three years ago, initial reactions included 'kill it with fire' and 'why the fuck does he have teeth?' – back to the drawing board went movie Sonic's designers and when they returned, it was with a blue hedgehog everyone could get on board with. What felt like a doomed project right off the bat was not only salvaged, it became a roaring success. It was a hit at the box office with a sequel confirmed shortly after, and that sequel that will be here later this year.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 will properly introduce Tails to the big screen, and also Idris Elba's Knuckles. The big three that even my mum could probably identify. Remind me to put that theory to the test next time I see her. Even better for Paramount, Sega, and most importantly Sonic fans, a third movie has already been given the green light. Not to mention a Knuckles spin-off series coming to Paramount+ as well.
Pretty cool, huh? Well, yeah, very cool, but it could be cooler. I'll be watching the Knuckles show as soon as it drops just like every other Sonic fan. However, I'm left wondering what part of the echidna's story needs what will presumably be at least five hours to tell? Knuckles was introduced as an ally of Dr. Robotnik in Sonic 3 and by the next game, he's a loyal member of Team Sonic. That story will likely be told before credits roll on Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Yes, I'm skipping between numbered games and numbered movies. It's confusing, but try to keep up.
Someone who hasn't been introduced to what I think is safe to call a Sonic Cinematic Universe at this point yet is Shadow. Shadow arrived in the games far later than Tails and Knuckles, hence Sonic's orange and red sidekicks beating him to the movie punch. Paramount is pretty serious about creating more Sonic content though, so odds are Shadow's time will come eventually. After introducing Knuckles in the sequel, and letting fans know he'll be back in Sonic 3, it would have been cool to introduce Shadow via a TV show rather than give Knuckles small screen time alongside the big screen showings he already has in the bank.
Sonic games aren't exactly celebrated for their storytelling. Shadow's deep and dark backstory is very much an exception to that rule. A tangent not in keeping with the rest of the Sonic universe that deserves to be told in a different medium. It's certainly not something that can be told at the start of a movie to catch people up. A lot more than Dr. Robotnik saying, “hey Sonic, get a load of this next guy I'll be using to try to thwart you thwarting me.” Shadow's story would take longer than a movie to tell, hence a TV show being the perfect place to tell it.
Let me strap on some fast boots and try to sum up exactly how much story there is to tell. Shadow was created by Robotnik's grandfather, so right there you've got a story that can begin decades before the first Sonic movie. Deemed a danger to humanity, Shadow is kept prisoner and eventually rescued by Grandpa Robotnik's granddaughter, and regular Robotnik's cousin, Maria. Amid his escape, Maria is killed by the military. The darker hedgehog loses his memory after that and is eventually recruited by regular Robotnik. After that he gets his memory back and saves the world.
There's more to it than that, but that's the gist of it. Like I said, more than enough story to tell across a six, eight, or even ten-episode TV show. It's also a medium people are going to watch, whether they are casual or hardcore Sonic fans. “Don't know who Shadow is, but I like the movies and I have Paramount+, so I might as well check it out.” A Shadow movie, on the other hand, probably isn't going to sell that many tickets at the box office, no matter how well Sonic 2 performs this April. The best comparison to make is to the MCU. Everyone was talking about and loved WandaVision and Loki on Disney+. Eternals and Ant-Man, however, weren't necessarily flops at the box office, but because there wasn't a marquee superhero on the posters, they didn't perform nearly as well as the likes of Spider-Man and Black Panther.
Paramount and the team behind the first Sonic movie have already done a terrific job of showing the world that they're not just making a product for Sonic fans. I had a very hard time convincing people the first movie was actually good and I wasn't just seeing things through rose-tinted glasses because I love Sonic, but it really is. Everything from Sonic 2 shown off so far points to that trend continuing. However, a Shadow TV show could add a whole new layer to the work being done. A corner of Sonic's world that very few people in the grand scheme of things even know exists. Hopefully, the Knuckles show is a hit and Shadow gets one of his own down the line. If he doesn't, play the Shadow game on PS2. You know what, play it anyway, it's awesome.
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