‘Sonic the Hedgehog’: Did the Character’s Redesign Just Leak?

On social media, everyone has an opinion. But rarely has fan response been as impactful as with the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog film. Based on the long-running video game series, the film brings the speedy critter into the real world, where he faces the sinister Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).

Of course, films based on video games don’t have a very bright history. With the release of its first trailer, Sonic the Hedgehog seemed similarly doomed. But we now may have our first look at how the production has addressed fans’ biggest concern.

'Sonic the Hedgehog' logo at CinemaCon
‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ logo at CinemaCon | Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage

What was wrong with ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’?

Right from the teaser poster, fans took issue with Sonic’s design. His legs were too long, and the fur only made the image more dissimilar from Sonic’s signature look. Then, Paramount released the trailer, and everything got even worse.

Sonic’s original design incorporated a more humanoid appearance, including a more realistic build and even teeth. The resulting effect was a blue CGI oddity that barely bore any resemblance to Sega’s mascot. Clearly, this was not what fans had in mind when the film was first announced.

So, in response to fan outcry, Paramount pushed back Sonic the Hedgehog until the lead character could be redesigned. Thanks to Sonic fan account Tails’ Channel on Twitter, that redesign has been revealed via a promotional standee.

Is the new Sonic design an improvement?

By all accounts, Sonic’s new look is getting a much better reception than his original one. Rather than attempting to make the character more realistic, this design embraces the more cartoonish aspects of the character. Accordingly, it feels like a purer distillation, with noticeably larger eyes and much shorter limbs.

To really know if Sonic’s design captures Sonic’s essence, we still need to see him in action. That said, this look does align more with what a live-action version of the video game Sonic the Hedgehog would be. Since the project is fueled by nostalgia, this iconic character needs to feel recognizable for the whole thing to work.

Of course, the conversation surrounding the fandom’s role in shaping Sonic’s design raises all kinds of questions. Should fans have such influence over the creative process? Or should the filmmakers have stuck to their original vision? In this case, fans will probably be happier with the end result.

When will the movie be released?

Following fan reaction to the film’s trailer, director Jeff Fowler announced that Paramount was pushing back its release. Rather than hitting theaters in November 2019, Paramount would unleash Sonic the Hedgehog on February 14, 2020. This would provide enough of a window for the production team to redesign Sonic.

In many ways, a February release feels like a better bet for Paramount anyway. Releasing the family-friendly film on November 8 as intended would have put it right in the midst of a busy holiday season. Moreover, Frozen 2 releases just two weeks later. Instead, February is much lighter on blockbuster fare, especially those aimed at younger audiences.

Will Sonic’s redesign make a difference at the box office? Only time will tell, but at least now, fans have one less reason to dislike the film.

Sonic the Hedgehog will speed into theaters on February 14, 2020.