Original Sonic the Hedgehog was a box office hit when it first came out in 2020, and its sequel currently enjoying success in theaters. Fans of Blue the Hedgehog and his friends are currently enjoying both films, delivering what they have wanted from the franchise since childhood. But it was a success that they essentially had to achieve in the first place, in a way that goes beyond just watching a movie.
Recall that on April 30, 2019, that is, three years ago, Paramount released first glance behind Sonic 1. This trailer showed “Gangster’s Paradise” for no apparent reason, which had a more realistic design for the protagonist, to a rather passionate response from fans. Well, it can’t be glossed over: fans loudly and publicly hated him, to the point that director Jeff Fowler publicly admitted that yes, the character need some time to sort myself out. Some thought that the original look was a deliberate mistake so there would be a redesign, but given that there were Halloween costumes and licensed item with OG Sonic involved, not to mention the months-long process it took for this update, this theory doesn’t make much sense.
Fast forward to the end of 2019 and there’s a new trailer showing Sonic looking like this. How is he in games? not the nightmarish hybrid that still lingers in the meme space. The new and improved Blue Blur won over rightly skeptical fans, and the first Sonic The film grossed $319.7 million worldwide. Much of the success of this redesign may be due to Sonic fan Tyson Hesse, an artist who made a name for himself doing various covers for Sonic comics published by Archie Comics before eventually being hired to do line art. (When IDW acquired the rights to the comics, he ran away with them.) He also directed and wrote the script. animated intro behind sonic mania, an intentionally retro SEGA game released in 2017 and whose animated shorts still much loved today for bringing Sonic and a small retinue of animal friends to an adorable cartoon life. Hesse was not the only reason for the redesign and its subsequent popularity, but you can certainly feel his love for the character in the new look. It’s love that paid off turning it into a first Sonic one of the highest grossing films of 2020. And sonic 2, in accordance with IGNis now the highest-grossing video game film of all time in the United States with $302.9 million.
Hesse returned to lead the art direction for sonic 2, and you can see it in the way the movie brings Tails, Knuckles and other elements of the games to life. If there’s one thing to agree on with this new movie, it’s that it definitely feels like it was made for fans of the character, kids and adults alike. (A fan or not, there’s something to be said for seeing three computer animals team up, fight each other, covered in colored electricity, and just hang out like a group of brothers.) While fandom is money, Sonic the films have managed to make this a selling point rather than a big statement that can often hover over other franchises.
Whether it was the hands of Hesse or another artist equally passionate about Sonic that could have produced the same results, this redesign and the success it brought to that first film may have benefited the franchise as a whole. Third Sonic a movie is in development, as well as a spin-off show for Knuckles, and chances are other sequels are also in development. There is also a new Sonic show in development for Netflix later this year (assuming it still exists), and Sound boundaries is going to introduce the franchise in the current generation of games in the fall. It seems that after years of inconsistent entries, the franchise has found itself again, and all it took was a horrendous set of teeth and a bit of monstrously long limbs.
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