The Sonic Cinematic Universe shows no sign of ending
That spiky speedster is spinning into cinemas once again with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but surprising no one, this isn't the end of the road for the blue blur. Although we've already heard of a Knuckles spin-off series starring Idris Elba as the sexy (can we say that?) echidna, it turns out Paramount is planning a whole Sonic Cinematic Universe. The Sonimatic Universe, if you will. The question is, where do we draw the line?
As it stands, things are looking pretty solid for that nippy video game mascot. After 2020's Sonic the Hedgehog followed in the footsteps of Detective Pikachu and continued to break the video game movie curse, the studio fast-tracked a sequel into production. Better yet, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is getting rave reviews and could make more than its predecessor. Considering the OG broke the record for the biggest opening weekend ever for a video game movie, we're hopeful.
What's Next For The Sonimatic Universe?
Alongside the aforementioned Knuckles series that will flesh out the backstory of Elba's grouchy anti-hero, there are continued rumours of a Tails standalone movie. Following a last-minute cameo from Sonic's BFF at the end of the first movie, Tails is quite literally front and centre of this outing, with one of Sonic 2's posters honouring the box art of 1992's Sega Genesis game of the same name.
Colleen Ann O'Shaughnessy has been the voice of Tails since 2014, and with her reprising her role for the movies, it would be deserved if she gets her own standalone as the flying fox. All of this comes alongside confirmation a third movie is already in the works. Given the gap between movies, we can logically expect a full-blown Sonic the Hedgehog 3 in 2024, with the Knuckles series maybe landing on Paramount+ next year. If this is the case, Elba would be in good company alongside the Pablo Schreiber-led Halo series.
Paramount Is Spinning Into Spin-Offs
The Sonimatic Universe can go literally anywhere, and with the likes of Blaze the Cat inhabiting her own dimension or Silver the Hedgehog coming from 200 years in the future, it's tempting to have an Into the Spider-Verse team-up movie where the great and the good of expanded Sonic canon come together. Still, that doesn't mean all of them deserve their own outing.
We can see the merit of Blaze because she's effectively a badass Princess Zelda who is Sonic and Tails rolled into one, but what about Team Chaotix? Even if Vector the Crocodile, Espio the Chameleon, and Charmy Bee are neat side characters who run their own detective agency, is anyone really willing to put tens of hours into their own Paramount+ series?
Elsewhere, there isn't really that much that separates Shadow the Hedgehog from Knuckles. Both are brooding beefcakes used by Dr. Robotnik to try and take over the world, and although a lot of Shadow's arc seems to have been amalgamated into what Doc has planned for Knuckles in Sonic 2, we’d bet our money Shadow will be the main antagonist of Sonic 3.
How The Sonimatic Universe Can Work?
That isn't to say we think Paramount should just cut its losses and end with a trilogy of movies. Notably, characters like Shade the Echidna and Metal Knuckles seem primed for roles in the Knuckles series, so we'll allow them to enter the Sonimatic Universe. It's also fair to give Tails a shot at the top, because much like Luigi with Mario, he's usually resigned to Sonic's shadow.
Finally, even a cynic like myself will admit there's something to be said for a Fang the Sniper, aka Nack the Weasel, series. First introduced in 1994's Sonic Triple Trouble, Nack comes from an alternate dimension and tries to hunt out the Chaos Emeralds to sell them to the highest bidder. Picture the scene where Nack leads his own series as a sort of Indiana Jones and Uncharted crossover.
With every cinematic universe, there comes a lot of pressure. Disney struck lucky with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it's a Chaos Emerald in the rough. Just look at what happened to Universal's plan for the Dark Universe or Warner Bros. with the DCEU. It's much the same with Universal's hopes of a Mario Cinematic Universe. A Seth Rogen-led Donkey Kong spin-off is all well and good, but I'll be damned if you think I'm paying for a Toad's Treasure Tracker adaptation.
For now, the jury is out on whether the Sonimatic Universe is a well-meaning way to adapt the decades of source material, or just a quick cash grab that will milk the IP for all it's worth. Only recently, we've seen the latter with the first reviews of Jared Leto's Morbius panning the Venom spin-off. For the time being, Sonic and his pals are riding high on the success of two movies, but only time will tell how long this lasts. Putting out there, you greenlight a Dr. Robotnik movie that gives the villain a tragic origin story akin to Maleficent... and I'm out.