“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is the perfect expansion/continuation of the first “Sonic the Hedgehog” film, which became a surprise hit in 2020 just as the pandemic was beginning.
This new film follows a similar formula to the original – silly all-ages humor that includes a dog wearing sunglasses and a joke about a bikini wax, some extreme Jim Carrey mugging, plentiful computer-generated imagery and a modest addition of new elements from the “Sonic the Hedgehog” mythology.
That’s right, this time adorable fox Tails (voiced by video game mainstay Colleen O’Shaughnessey) and the sinister Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) are joining Sonic (once again voiced by Ben Schwartz) for more over-the-top mayhem. If you’ve ever plopped yourself down in front of a Sega Genesis, the memories will come flooding back.
But what will the next installment bring?
Well, a clue is revealed during the “Sonic 2” credits sequence (mercifully you don’t have to wait until the very end of the credits) that points towards what the inevitable “Sonic the Hedgehog 3” will bring us in the not-too-distant future.
Major spoilers for “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” follow.
New Lore, Who Dis?
Sure, Tails and Knuckles are two huge additions to the Sonic cinematic adaptation, but there was even more for fans to eat up in “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.” For one thing, the main plot centers around Knuckles and Dr. Robotnik (Carrey) looking for the Master Emerald, made up of the Chaos Emeralds that Robotnik is frequently after in the video games (and whose mystical powers have been explored fully in miscellaneous spinoff materials).
The rings from the video games also play a more important role in the sequel, serving as mini wormholes that characters use to zap themselves from place to place. And, of course, there’s a hilarious misunderstanding with one of the wings and a wedding ring. It’s a whole thing.
Also, one of the characters from the original film reveals themselves to be part of a new organization that sprang up since the events of the first film – Guardian Units of Nations (aka G.U.N.), which has become a major paramilitary organization within the larger Sonic universe (keep in mind that Sonic doesn’t just play out across video games, but there are comic books, animated series, action figures and more). Think of G.U.N. as the “Sonic the Hedgehog” equivalent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
But perhaps the deepest cut (and most explosive addition to the quickly accumulating mythology) happens during the credits …
Who’s in the Lab?
Just to set the scene, Dr. Robotnik has built a giant robot using the Chaos Energy from the Chaos Emeralds. He has threatened our cute heroes and attempted to kill their human counterparts but, of course, his robot was taken down and he could have died (more on that in a minute). Our heroes, now united (yes, Knuckles is fully a part of the fam by the end of the movie), take part in a spirited game of baseball. It’s a full circle moment: Sonic had to play by himself in the first movie. Now he’s got his squad.
After a few of the credits have rolled, however, we cut back to the wreckage of Robotnik’s giant robot. There are members of G.U.N. there going through the wreckage. Robotnik’s #2, Stone (Lee Majdoub) is dressed as a G.U.N. agent. A G.U.N. superior says that they’re “still searching for Robotnik.” And then he says that the power from the Chaos Emeralds has awoken something in a “secret research facility” (aren’t they always secret research facilities?) called “Project Shadow.”
We then briefly cut to a disused science lab and there’s a creature in a chamber that looks very much like Sonic, except he is black with red streaks. This is Shadow. As the camera gets closer and closer … Shadow opens his eyes.
Who Is Shadow the Hedgehog?
Originally introduced in the 2001 game “Sonic Adventure 2,” which was meant to be his only appearance, Shadow the Hedgehog has proven to be something of a fan favorite and has returned many times across various Sonic-related media. He was created by Gerald Robotnik, the great grandfather of the series baddie Doctor Eggman (the character played by Carrey). His design was inspired by “The Terminator” and he is more of an antihero, putting him at odds with the more outwardly virtuous Sonic. The addition of Shadow the Hedgehog to the film series will no doubt delight longtime fans and add some much-needed drama.
More New Villains?
During the press tour for “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” Jim Carrey made headlines by saying that he probably would retire from acting. This leaves a giant question mark hanging over the franchise. If they can’t get him back, will they find a new villain? Or will somebody step into the same role? (It’s hard to think of anybody else as the character, but hey, we’ve had a ton of Batmen at this point.) They could be introducing Shadow the Hedgehog as the villain for the next one, should Carrey opt out.
Honestly, the video game franchise doesn’t have a ton of characters to choose from, so maybe it would be cool to introduce some new baddies that could then be folded into the video games later in a true ouroboros situation.
But here’s hoping Carrey sticks around. He’s got a lot more menacing to do.