So, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie is about a year old now. Like many, I was absolutely surprised to see that it wasn’t a train wreck. I actually rather enjoyed it! With a sequel on the horizon, there are many things I’d like to see, as well as a few things I hope I don’t.
Before I get into what it should and shouldn’t do though, I’d like to establish what will definitely happen: Tom ‘Donut Lord’ Wachowski will still be heavily featured, Jim Carrey will still be Eggman, and the movie will almost certainly take place on Earth for the most part. Like it or hate it, these are the bare-faced facts and they’re not going anywhere. That said, here’s what I hope to see in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
DO: Focus on Tails and ‘Big Brother’ Sonic
The core of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 should be the development of Sonic & Tails’ friendship and dynamic. It’s not enough for the characters to meet, establish their basic character traits, and trade quips and exposition. Sonic is effectively Tails’ big brother in the games, and that is absolutely a dynamic that should be carried over into the movies.
I liked how Sonic was characterized in the first movie. While he was upbeat and immature, he was also child-like and vulnerable. Since this was the character’s origin story, it made sense that he was not yet the “dude with a ‘tude” that he is portrayed in the games. But with Tails entering the picture, Sonic will need to grow beyond this.
Tails should be characterized as a child who lacks the experience and confidence to face danger on his own. Sonic, in turn, should grow into a big brother figure that Tails can look up to and rely on. It’s a natural evolution of Sonic’s character from the previous movie, and the sort of character development a Sonic movie sequel will definitely need if it hopes to be more than its predecessor.
Basically, Sonic 2 needs to do what its predecessor only kinda succeeded at: give Sonic and Tails well-defined arcs that build on what was established in the previous movie.
DO: Transform Robotnik into Eggman
I wasn’t really a huge fan of Jim Carrey’s Robotnik. It felt more like a typical, manic Jim Carrey performance than Carrey trying to be Robotnik. That is… at least until the final scene, when for a few brief moments he not only looked like Eggman, but also pulled off a solid Mike Pollock-esque impression.
I’d very much like to see Carrey’s Robotnik adopt a gruffer voice, a wider girth (presumably via a fat suit), and maintain the bald head and orange moustache from the movie’s final scene. And finally, I’d certainly like for him to adopt Sonic’s “Eggman” nickname at some point during the movie. I can’t say I’d definitely love Carrey’s Robotnik even with these changes, but anything that brings him closer to Eggman will make me happy.
DON’T: Retread Ground From the Previous Movie
The worst sequels are the ones that attempt to replicate the success of the original by retreading its formula or structure. Sonic 2 can’t do that. It shouldn’t be “Sonic and Tom go on another roadtrip to [place] to get [macguffin] while Robotnik hunts them, but this time it’s with Tails.” Sonic 2 needs to go above and beyond its predecessor. It needs to be more ambitious with its locales (preferably by taking things off Earth at some point), and it can’t let Sonic and Tom repeat the same character beats from the previous film.
If I had my way, Tom would play a much smaller role in this film, leaving Sonic and Tails to be the focus. But at a minimum, we really don’t need a subplot of Tom being disappointed with his job as an officer of a small town, again.
Robotnik’s white, Apple iPod-sleek drones from the first movie kind of make sense as “proto-badniks,” but I can’t say I was a fan of them. Sonic 2 needs to introduce true Badniks, with all the colorful and animal-like aesthetics that entails. Robotnik/Eggman is known for his mechanical army, and giving his robots a less sterile, more creative/weird appearance can be a way to demonstrate Robotnik’s loosened grip on sanity, if nothing else.
And speaking of bringing robots closer to their appearance in the games…
DO: Metal Sonic
I can think of no better co-antagonist for the Sonic 2 movie then Metal Sonic. Of all of Sonic’s potential villains and rivals, Metal Sonic would easily make the biggest splash with the least amount of build-up or screen time. Its design is great, and wouldn’t need to change much (if at all) from its game incarnation.
As a mechanical copy of Sonic, it is a sensible response for Robotnik to develop after his first loss to Sonic. It could even be powered by the blue quill the mad doctor obtained in the previous movie, giving it a deeper connection to Sonic beyond simple aesthetics.
Heck, the source material is even there to allow it to be a recurring threat. Metal could be introduced with its bulkier Sonic 2 design, and be defeated. It could then make a more successful return in its sleeker, more iconic design, defeating Sonic and leading in to the final confrontation of the movie.
Another character has been rumored as a potential foe for Sonic… and while I love the character so much I’ve used him as the namesake for my online handle, I have to say, I hope those rumors are wrong.
DON’T: Include Knuckles (or Sonic’s Other Friends)
You know what can be just as bad as being unambitious? Being overambitious, like filling your movie with a large cast of new characters. When it comes to movies, one of my pet peeves is overstuffing the narrative with so many heroes that none of them are given enough screen time to connect with the viewer.
In a movie that is already introducing Tails and will also need to give Sonic, Tom and Robotnik screen time, I do not want to see attention split further with other characters as well. I’d rather see other Sonic characters saved for later movies, especially Knuckles. Knuckles should be the focus of a third movie, as Sonic’s enemy, and eventual rival and friend.
Why introduce Knuckles as a villain, when Metal Sonic is literally right there, begging to be used? Why introduce him as an ally when Sonic already needs to form a friendship with Tails? At most, Knuckles should be an after credits tease, and nothing more. Save him for movie three.
DO: Include a Chaos Emerald (But Only One)
One of my pre-release criticisms of the Sonic movie was its use of rings instead of Chaos Emeralds as its central macguffin. GX, one of my Sonic Talk co-hosts, pointed out that rings should be used because that’s what casual audiences are familiar with. In hindsight, I think he was right, but now that we’re getting a sequel, I think it’s time to dive a little deeper into the lore and introduce these powerful gems.
Specifically, I think they should introduce one Emerald, as the movie’s central plot driver. Having Sonic race to get it before Dr. Robotnik seems like a pretty solid way to drive the story, and it can even tie into some super weapon, like the Death Egg or a “powered up” version of Metal Sonic. And of course, this can also be used to establish the other Chaos Emeralds, as well as the greater lore around them as a whole. This can then be expanded upon in the third movie.
The focus should be on one Emerald to keep things simple for casual audiences, and allow room for further escalation in a third movie. Demonstrate what a single Emerald can do in this movie, so that the potential for what can be done with seven in the following movie is all the more daunting. This also means saving Super Sonic for movie three, of course.
DON’T: Lean on Pop Culture References for Humor
Look, I’ll admit it: those weird Olive Garden jokes made me chuckle. We all remember the “Is the Rock President?!” line, for better or worse. But many found these jokes lazy. Pop culture jokes can be pretty lazy humor, and that’s what if often felt like in the Sonic movie. Its best jokes relied on Sonic’s speed and personality. Remember that turtle joke? That made the entire audience in my theater laugh. I liked it.
Humor is hard. I am bad at it, and my sense of humor is awful. But Sonic media has made me legitimately laugh a lot, especially Ian Flynn’s stuff in the comics. I don’t need the humor to be amazing, but I would like it to be character-centric and sincere, not reliant on audiences knowing the name of a solid-but-too-salty Italian restaurant or some online realty company, and laughing.
Bonus DO: Haz Gud Wrting Plz
So, I’m not counting this as a sixth “do,” because demanding better writing without going into the many ways it needs to improve is bad criticism. But… Sonic the Hedgehog 2 needs better writing than its predecessor.
Nearly everyone went into the first movie with rock-bottom expectations, and that won’t be the case this time around. The Sonic franchise has long been solid source material for stories, and the sequel should take advantage of that. Of course, even if it does do everything I suggest, none of that will mean anything if its executed poorly.
The first movie had its own problems with character development and plotting. That said, it was good enough that I think the people behind it can make a much better movie with a follow-up effort. I just hope they take advantage of everything they have access to, and know what to leave for future movies.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 will hit theaters on April 8, 2022. Check out our review for the first movie here.