When the first trailer for the live-action video game adaptation Sonic the Hedgehog was released earlier this year, it was met with shock, disappointment and abject horror, primarily related to the look of the titular speedster. Then something perhaps even more shocking happened: the backlash resulted in the film being delayed so Sonic’s look could be changed.
We don’t know what the result of Sonic’s redesign will be and neither does star Jim Carrey, who plays Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog. Speaking at TCA, attended by CinemaBlend’s own Nick Venable, Jim Carrey addressed the redesign, saying:
Jim Carrey seems as in the dark as the rest of us about Sonic’s redesign and what the result of it is ultimately going to be, both from a reception standpoint and what it means for the film itself. He obviously isn’t a CGI artist, so he won’t have a hand in the redesign, but he does bring up a very interesting point here about the implications of the redesign happening in the first place.
It may have felt like a low-key thing, but I think it was actually a fascinatingly big deal that Sonic The Hedgehog, a feature film costing millions of dollars, was delayed so that more work could be done, and, correspondingly, more money was spent as a result of fan backlash. This is the point that Jim Carrey isn’t sure how to feel about.
The vociferous and prevalent backlash and rejection of Sonic’s design in the trailer has led to creative changes in the film. So in a way, the fans became part of the creative process, which Jim Carrey’s isn’t sure how to feel about. Filmmaking by committee is one thing when it’s Pixar’s Braintrust, but it’s another when that committee becomes everyone on the internet, a venue ill-suited to nuanced opinions or sincerity.
Jim Carrey seems to think that even if Sonic’s redesign is completely accurate to the game, people may still reject it, which is entirely possible. And this is an interesting precedent to set, whether it is a slippery slope or not remains to be seen. Yet, while Jim Carrey has no idea what will happen with the redesign and his concerns are worthy of discussion, he ultimately doesn’t seem to worried about it, saying:
What will be will be, and Jim Carrey isn’t going to let something that he has no control over worry him. As he says, Sonic’s redesign will ultimately be a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe it completely changes the narrative on the film and results in Sonic the Hedgehog being better received and more successful. Or maybe it doesn’t make a difference at all, people still complain about it and a dangerous precedent gets set for fan influence.
Jim Carrey raises some valid concerns, but I think Sonic’s redesign will be for the best. I mean it can’t look worse, right? And while fans shouldn’t have too much influence over a movie, in a film like this, it seems like it took the fans speaking out to say something that should have been obvious from the start.
You can’t please everyone, but when you are adapting a property versus creating an entirely original work, you are hoping to make money using an established brand and characters that have name recognition. In those instances, an established and vocal fanbase isn’t a bug, it’s a feature and one you hope to make money off of. When that fanbase unilaterally rejects something, there is a not insignificant chance that you erred somewhere along the way.