By now, you’ve probably seen the first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. There’s a lot to take in: Chaos Emeralds, Sonic-as-a-superhero, Tails, and Idris Elba’s Knuckles are just some of the combustible elements that have been mixed together for an explosive sequel.
We recently sat down with director Jeff Fowler, returning from the 2020 original, to throw every major question at him regarding the Sonic 2 trailer. We cover a whole lot of ground, from discussing Tails’ voice actor to talking about how Sonic’s design (among others) has shifted ever so slightly for the sequel. We even spoke about what Idris Elba brings to Knuckles and why it’s a little too soon to confirm one of our favorite fan theories.
Are you ready? Let’s go. Join us as we break down the main talking points from the Sonic 2 trailer at the speed of sound.
Sonic is Blue Justice
The trailer kicks off with Sonic speeding through a city and taking down a group of thieves. Christening himself 'Blue Justice', the Blue Blur manages to speed away before anyone catches up to him.
"At the end of the first movie, he really had come into his own in terms of his powers and into the role of a hero," Fowler says. "Now we’re seeing him step into that role in a more public way. He’s still a secret in terms of the public knowing about him.
"That's the beauty of having super-speed is you can kind of do all these heroic acts, and no one necessarily knows who's responsible for them. It’s definitely an itch he needs to scratch, to be out there and to be using his powers for good."
Sonic’s new family – and timeframe
James Marsden’s Tom is the second key figure to show up in the trailer – imparting some much-needed advice on the hyper-active Sonic and his desire to do good. That’s a dynamic that will course through the veins of the sequel.
As Fowler puts it: "[Marsden]’s Tom and [Tika Sumpter's] Maddy are growing into parent and mentoring roles where they just want to guide him as he continues to develop as a young hedgehog. James is definitely more of a father figure in some ways and is trying to put Sonic on the right path."
Fowler also says that the sequel takes place "about nine months" after the original.
Jim Carrey’s Robotnik drops in – and will go full Eggman
Sonic the Hedgehog’s post-credits scenes saw Jim Carrey’s Robotnik transported to a faraway mushroom planet. Well, he’s back – dropping in on a suspiciously egg-shaped dropship amid roaring storms. The bald-headed, moustachioed villain is set to go full megalomaniac in the sequel if the director’s words ring true.
"That’s just really something we were very excited about – letting Jim go a little bit more, sort of full-on Eggman in terms of [being] a little more unhinged and a little crazier," Fowler says. "That certainly is a great place for Jim Carrey to have a lot of fun. I think fans will be really excited with the direction we’ve taken him."
It’s the Master Emerald, not the Chaos Emerald
There was a sprinkling of confusion around whether the gem that Robotnik is after in the Sonic 2 trailer was the Master Emerald or one of the seven Chaos Emeralds. For some, it’s potatoes/potatoes, but Sonic lore is serious business, people.
Fowler confirms it’s the Master Emerald – and revealed that with Knuckles appearing in the sequel, bringing the Master Emerald along was always going to be part of the equation.
"If you’re going to make Knuckles part of the world, you owe the Master Emerald side of it," Fowler says. "Those two elements are just completely intertwined. It’s a package deal. Just based on all that video game canon, the Master Emerald should be part of that story as well."
The "gravitas" of Idris Elba’s Knuckles
Let’s talk about the echidna in the room: Idris Elba will portray Knuckles, Sonic’s one-time nemesis and, in the games at least, long-time friend.
They’re on opposing sides here, though, with Robotnik pulling Knuckles' strings to get him to fight Sonic. But why introduce Knuckles now?
"We're kind of working our way through the original timeline," Fowler explains. "You think about the first movie, it was just Sonic and Robotnik, the same way the first video game was. Then, Sonic 2 [with Tails] and then obviously Sonic and Knuckles."
For Fowler, Knuckles’ presence allows the sequel to really lean on more action: "Sonic has super-speed, Knuckles has super-strength; you can really stage some awesome action with those two."
"Honestly, it was one of the things that excited me the most about getting to do another movie," Fowler says. "Robotnik will always be a formidable opponent, but Knuckles gives us a different thing to play with, a different way to stage action and challenge Sonic as a hero."
On Idris Elba’s casting, the director outlines what The Wire actor brings to the role, "It’s just the gravitas – he has such an incredible voice. It’s a great contrast. Ben [Schwartz] is so energetic, fast-talking, and funny. Idris brings just such weight and power. It felt like a perfect match for what we wanted to do with Knuckles."
Tails’ voice actor
Despite recent animation leaning on big name actors to portray iconic characters (think Chris Pratt as Mario and, uhh, Chris Pratt as Garfield), the Sonic sequel is bucking that trend in places by bringing Tails’ current video game voice actor, Colleen O’Shaughnessy, on board. For Fowler, there was never any desire to recast or bring in a household name.
"We introduced Tails in the first movie and he only had a few lines. But it just felt like such a great fit. Again, fans responded to it so positively, it felt like the right move. Collen does such an amazing job, she’s such a great voice actor. It was just ‘let’s give fans what they’re really hoping to see and hear.’"
No redesigns, but each character has been tweaked
You might have heard about Sonic’s design controversy back in 2019. The teeth still haunt us.
Things have gone swimmingly post-redesign, and Fowler reveals that nothing has really changed this time around – but the advance in technology means the characters will look better in the sequel.
"Just very minor under-the-hood sort of ways," Fowler explains. "It’s the same because we got such a great response from the first film and people were so excited for Tails to show up. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It was really just a lot of minor technical things."
Fowler continues, "All of the characters, Sonic included, got a technical upgrade: better fidelity, better detail. They’re the same character. Technology is always moving forward, visual effects are getting better, and the characters have benefitted from that."
Is that Angel Island? No answers (yet)
See that floating island? Some Sonic fans were convinced that it was Angel Island, the home of Knuckles and the resting place of the Master Emerald.
Fowler, though, isn’t budging when asked if the location was, indeed, Angel Island – but urged fans to keep looking for more clues.
"I think it’s too early [to confirm or deny]. I love seeing what fans do, going into these things frame by frame. We have purposefully planted stuff just because we know that fans love doing this sort of thing. I would encourage people to keep analyzing because there’s lots of little layers of goodies in there," Fowler teases.
More Easter eggs
There are more Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the trailer, however. They include Tails’ Tornado plane (first scene in Sonic 2) and Sonic going snowboarding (a potential nod to Sonic 3’s Ice Cap Zone opening).
Don’t expect just the classic trilogy to get callbacks, however. Fowler says "it all goes into the pot" while making sure there are "little design cues" for diehards. "There’s so much great material to pull from in the games, 30 years of material," Fowler says.
How the sequel aims to be bigger and better
As a whole, the Sonic 2 trailer looks to be a step up from its predecessor: more polished, more accomplished action, and a greater feel for Sonic’s world and its many colorful characters.
"This is just a much bigger movie," Fowler says. "The scope is bigger, we have more characters. I love Tails and Knuckles and we all felt it was the right choice to hold them back.
"We really are just having the greatest time making this movie. Bringing all the cast back is so wonderful. Jim Carrey is having the time of his life with Robotnik. It’s just really awesome, I feel very fortunate."
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 speeds into cinemas on April 8, 2022. Find out what's hitting consoles next year with our guide to video game release dates.