If you are reading this column, stop what you’re doing right now and Google search photos of the live action “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie. Come back when you’re done.
OK, welcome back. While looking at the CGI Sonic, you may have noticed two versions of the classic blue video game character set to make his big screen debut. When Paramount released the long-awaited first trailer for the movie, fans ranged from disappointed to terrified. That’s because the Sonic in that first trailer didn’t look quite right. Eerily human-like, the hedgehog had several characteristics that made viewers uncomfortable, top of the list being his tiny mouth and disturbingly human teeth. The beloved speedy character’s design was quickly torn apart on social media.
While many didn’t hesitate to criticize (jokingly or seriously) the design, I would guess that most critics didn’t expect there to be a change. The official trailer was out, so it seemed like the movie was pretty far along, if not completely finished, in its production. The creators of Sonic the Hedgehog’s movie had missed the mark, and there was no undoing such an unnerving mistake.
Or was there? Two days after the first Sonic trailer was less than well received, director Jeff Fowler tweeted, “The message is loud and clear … you aren’t happy with the design and you want changes. It’s going to happen.” I have a lot of respect for Fowler and the team behind Sonic, because they didn’t allow that to be an empty promise.
We didn’t hear about Sonic for a few months, except of course for the occasional meme. Changes had been promised, but were they actually on the way? The release date was pushed back from November 2019 to February 2020 — was that a good sign, or a delay of an inevitable pulled plug?
Fans finally got their answer Tuesday when an updated trailer was released with a new and improved Sonic the Hedgehog who looked much less like a creepy, blue human and much more like, well, a hedgehog. Not only was the character more lovable, but the trailer itself also lent itself more to the classic video games through added sound effects and visuals.
Many have been quick to compliment the character’s new look, celebrating the bigger eyes, more cartoon-like mouth and less of a human figure. I’m all for this outpouring of positivity, but I think many people are missing the mark. There’s one group of people who truly deserve all the love new Sonic is getting — the movie’s creators.
When you release a piece of work to the public, it takes guts. Whether it’s a painting, a book, a business plan or anything else you’ve invested yourself to, you are sharing a part of yourself. You do it with the hope that people will love it as much as you do. Every Friday morning, I wake up with butterflies in my stomach at the thought of so many of you picking up this newspaper, knowing you may tear it apart. It’s a scary feeling.
The creators of the Sonic movie did something even bolder than releasing their work to the public — they humbly listened to the criticism, took back the product they had spent months creating, and changed it. It takes courage to show people what you’ve made. It takes even more courage to redo it.
This is exactly why I will definitely be making plans to see Sonic in theaters a few months from now. Not because I’m particularly invested in the story, but because I am certainly invested in the tireless work of creators who want to work for others and not just for themselves.