With Sonic the Hedgehog 2 recently becoming the highest-grossing video game movie of all time, it’s fair to say at this point that the so-called “video game curse” is likely long gone. The second live-action outing of the blue blur has and is still seeing incredible box office and critical success, and with a third movie as well as a spin-off series on the horizon, the Sonic Cinematic Universe is shaping up to be a big one. But exactly how big should it be?
The Sonic Cinematic Universe – A Sense of Scale for the Movies
This question is in line with the recent rise of other cinematic universes based on existing properties, namely the MCU and DCEU. Both have taken the original comics and turned them into something that has taken the world of entertainment by storm, and with the way things look, the Sonic Cinematic Universe will be no different. Sonic is already one of the most popular video game franchises in the world, so it only stands to reason that Paramount and everyone else involved in the development of this universe would want to go on for as long as possible. However, with something like this, it all comes down to quality over quantity.
For all of the good things about the MCU, a prevailing opinion in recent years has been that it has become a shadow of its former self and, for many, has become too big for its own good. The idea that there is no such thing as too much of a good thing can be brought into question when looking at some of the biggest criticisms of the MCU, DCEU, and other s0-called “cinematic universes” like them, namely just how big they are.
It’s hard to debate that the appeal of “cinematic universes” most likely derives from the MCU in some way. The film franchise has grown to be one of the biggest blockbuster franchises in all of Hollywood, to there point where there is a bit of an expectation that comes with it. There has been a new Marvel movie in theaters almost every year, and it is not uncommon for each new one to be a big box office hit, and it has only grown from there with spin-offs, TV shows, and many different projects that make the universe feel larger and larger. But this is also its biggest problem.
When something becomes so big and interconnected, it subsequently becomes harder and harder to keep up with all the characters, lore, and relevant plot points that make future projects just as enjoyable as their previous ones. This is perhaps most pertinent to the most recent Marvel film as of writing this, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. While not completely impossible to follow, many of the major plot points are references to other Marvel TV shows and projects that explain what certain characters are doing and why things are the way they are. In other words, it begins with the expectation that one has seen everything that came before it and is here to see the aftermath. That may easily appeal to hardcore Marvel fans, but for the more casual viewer, not so much.
This does not necessarily mean that all Marvel projects are completely impossible to keep up with, nor should it mean that those who enjoy it should rethink their views on its current course. The MCU will continue to grow whether people like it or not, but at the same time, it is clear that its establishment of the idea of a “cinematic universe” in the modern entertainment scene has and will continue to have a substantial impact on the course of other franchises, Sonic included.
The Cinematic Potential of Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog is a big series that encapsulates and includes over 30 years’ worth of games, spin-offs, TV shows, and even other movies, so there is no shortage of material to draw from when it comes to adapting such a large franchise into something like this. But considering director Jeff Fowler has recently confirmed that the movies will not follow the chronological order of the games (with the third movie likely going straight to Sonic Adventure 2 despite the second movie only adapting the first three games), the question then becomes: What games should and should not be adapted to keep the growth of the franchise feeling natural.
One of the problems that come with making an adaptation of something so large is determining what should come first to decide what should come next. The MCU goes about this by adapting some of the names most people will recognize, like the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, etc., before moving on to more obscure characters, like Ms. Marvel or Iron Fist. At least, obscure in comparison to the Avengers.
Sonic, however, does not really have the same structure. For one, it is a video game as opposed to a comic book, and for two the characters and stories, it tells follow a much more linear (or at least clearer) line of progression. There’s Sonic 1, 2, and 3, then various 2D spin-offs like CD, then the beginning of the 3D titles with Adventures 1 and 2, and so on and so forth. Jeff Fowler has already confirmed that the Sonic movies will not follow a complete linear timeline of the games, hence why the third movie will likely focus on Adventure 2 as opposed to Sonic CD, which technically takes place between Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3.
In this case, the best approach for a film adaptation of such a series is to do so delicately. Jumping from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3 to Sonic Adventure makes a lot of sense, but going from Adventure to something like Sonic Lost World or Sonic Forces? Not as much, and not every game in the series is necessarily viable for the kind of world the movies have set up. It is doubtful that many would buy the idea of Movie Sonic being transported in a book and fighting a magical Genie or evil witch trying to make the world eternal, or even Sonic Boom considering how different it is from other games in the series.
So when trying to decide how big this cinematic universe should get, it’s a bit difficult to come to a conclusive answer just because of the near limitless potential that is there, especially because other projects like spin-offs movies or shows are definitely on the table. For this reason, it is fair to come to the consensus that the Sonic Cinematic Universe is likely to fully adapt the most iconic games in the series, rather than ones that are more obscure or lesser popular. Popularity is very much a factor, as evident by Shadow’s inclusion this early on.
So while we are unlikely to see full films adaptations of games like Sonic Blast, Sonic Advance, Sonic and the Black Knight, or perhaps even Sonic Riders, the cinematic universe as a whole is likely to expand far beyond just the movies, and encompass as much media as the MCU if not more.