Shadow the Hedgehog will make his cinematic debut in Jeff Fowler’s Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Shadow became a fan favorite after his debut in the 2001 classic Sonic Adventure 2. However, Shadow’s legacy changed in the following few games. His first and only solo outing changed the tone dramatically while giving him a gun. Jeff Fowler directed the first two Sonic movies and will return to close the trilogy. His first foray into the franchise came in Shadow the Hedgehog, which could influence his take on the character.
Shadow the Hedgehog Knows Who He Is
I think it’s fair to call Shadow the Hedgehog a singular entry in the Sonic canon. While Shadow will make his big-screen debut in Sonic 3, his original showcase came in 2001. Sonic Adventure 2 feels like a sequel to its predecessor and a comfortable entry in the broader franchise. Shadow the Hedgehog deviates substantially in tone, presentation, and gameplay. The game follows the titular ultimate life form as he chooses from multiple moral paths. Shadow tangles with human soldiers and alien hostiles, wielding realistic firearms and killing with wild abandon. The aesthetic is a natural escalation of the radical 90s image Sonic cultivated over his early career. None of the games in the franchise before or since Shadow captured the same edgy feel. It’s a far cry from Jeff Fowler’s recent work with Sonic and Shadow.
Jeff Fowler’s name appears in the credits of Shadow the Hedgehog with the title “CGI Movie Production.” Blur Studio provided many cutscenes in Shadow the Hedgehog, and Fowler worked as a director at the company for 20 years. Blur also worked on Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, one of the worst-received entries in the franchise. Fowler’s name doesn’t specifically appear in Sonic ’06’s credits, so he’s likely safe from that connection. The cutscenes Fowler worked on featured scenes like Maria Robotnik’s gruesome death, Shadow killing Dr. Eggman with his bare hand, and a few PG-13 swears. Jeff Fowler won’t be able to bring those elements to his films, but his prior experience might influence his take on Shadow.
Sonic 3 Must Choose its Shadow Carefully
Shadow has several forms across the games and cartoons he appears in. He’s an arrogant jerk in his debut project, channeling Vegeta more than any typical video game enemy. Later Sonic games followed that trend to its logical conclusion. He shifts gradually from cocky antagonist to needlessly mean-spirited anti-hero. The most recent outings see him moving closer to a bully with a secret heart of gold. He steals a child’s popcorn in an animated short from one of the racing games. Shadow the Hedgehog gives the ultimate life form the chance to be the hero of his own story. He revels in the spotlight even when you choose to make him evil. That Shadow would be a radical new direction for the Sonic movies, but it’s also the one Jeff Fowler may be best acquainted with.
Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel are children’s films. The games are aimed at the same young audience. Shadow is the only Sonic game to be rated T for Teen, while the others are E for Everyone. We won’t see Shadow dropping swear words or gunning down innocent people. Not to suggest he won’t hurt people, but using real guns tends to be out of the question. Even the GUN agents in Sonic 2 preferred TASERS. Jeff Fowler’s new Shadow could be the hero of his story before he makes his inevitable anti-hero turn. He could be the morally ambiguous powerhouse of his self-titled opus. Conversely, he could be a flawless parody of that appearance. Either would be a perfect presentation for the character that launched Fowler’s relationship with the Sonic franchise.
Shadow the Hedgehog still feels like the rebellious teenage phase that Sonic is embarrassed by. The Sonic movies remain some of the best explorations of the characters. Shadow deserves the elevated presentation that the big screen can provide. Jeff Fowler is the perfect person to direct Shadow’s cinematic debut, just as he was the right person to craft the other characters’ showcase moments. If the next film takes inspiration from Shadow the Hedgehog, it won’t feel appropriate, but it will be funny.