Sega and Paramount just dropped the trailer for the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and it appears as though the film will be divisive at best, and a potential garbage fire at worst. The film’s controversial Sonic design — which, due to fan criticism/ridicule is getting a full revamp for the final product to fix, uh, everything about it — is easily the most disturbing part of the trailer, though there’s a lot that hasn’t sat well with fans. But, perhaps I’m not the audience for this film. It’s likely meant to appeal to kids and, unfortunately, not current Sonic fans. Maybe this is the case. But if it is, then why, I ask you, does the film appear to be based heavily on Sonic X, the show that was airing when I was but a young lad of ten years old?
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Gotta Go Fast
Overall, it appears that the Sonic movie is meant to be an amalgam of elements from across Sonic’s history: the government is after him like in Sonic Adventure 2, he’s got warp rings — a staple of both the early games and the Archie comics series — and his ability to outwit and outmaneuver Dr. Robotnik drives the mad scientist, well, mad. However, the piece of Sonic media that appears to have had the biggest influence on the film is Sonic X.
Sonic X was, aside from the Toei-animated Sonic CD cinematics, the character’s first foray into the animated medium from the country of his inception. The anime aired from 2003 until 2006, the final season being part of a second series that went to space for some reason. So, what makes me think that the Sonic movie is basing itself primarily off of Sonic X? Well, aside from the fact that the “Gotta Go Fast” line used in the trailer originated from the series — specifically the English Dub’s theme song — the film’s plot appears to be, in many ways, a direct reprise of the anime.
Sonic X, unlike the games or any media from America, was its own original story. In the first episode, Sonic, his friends and all their enemies are transported from their world to “our” world, a place of humans and nary a single anthropomorphic animal in sight. In this world (his world), Sonic is encountered/befriended by Christopher Thorndyke, a painfully milquetoast character who routinely helps him save the world and foil the evil plots of Dr. Eggman.
Gotta Go Fast, Redux
This is pretty much, beat for beat, the plot that Sonic the Hedgehog has laid out in its trailer: Sonic is here to save our “planet,” implying he’s not from our world. He befriends a boring cardboard cutout of a character — a police officer played by James Marsden — and he’s constantly being pursued by Dr. Robotnik. There are more similarities here as well, like the fact that, in both Sonic X and the film’s trailer, Sonic is compared to a cat. In X, Christopher Thorndyke tries to feed him cat food, while in the upcoming film, Sonic unsuccessfully pretends to be a cat for a cheap laugh.
Additionally, and more substantially, when Sonic first appears in the human world in Sonic X, he is pursued by the cops (who have a rocket car division, for some reason), with one officer in particular, Sam Speed, attempting to race him. This officer turns out to be the uncle of Christopher Thorndyke, and if you combine the two characters, you basically have James Marsden’s role, Tom Wachowski. The fact that the authorities were after Sonic in Sonic X — for uh, just being fast? — is identical to the film’s central plot, which appears to be that the government wants to capture the strange blue creature. Sure, it’s because they want to dissect and study him — the ensuing autopsy would obviously find him with a belly full of half-digested chili dogs and would also horrify the children watching — but the similarities are still undeniable.
How far will this Sonic X influence go? Will Robotnik choose his method of Hedgehog-capturing with a card-powered slot machine? Will the villainous doctor temporarily become the president? Will the following films (god willing) weirdly adapt the Adventure games? Most importantly, will Sonic, Officer Milquetoast and all of their animal friends eventually fly off into space for some off-the-walls adventures? Only time will tell.
Of course, all of this could just be a coincidence, since “coming into the real world” isn’t an unheard of formula for live-action cartoon adaptations (see Universal’s Rocky & Bullwinkle) and I could just be too entrenched in Sonic lore to not make a connection. I mean, I am currently wearing a Sonic shirt as a write this… and my corkboard is covered with red string and conspiracy-theories… Maybe should take a break from Sonic for a while, if only just to get away from his haunting human teeth.