This is one situation when complaining led to great things: Paramount Pictures and Jeff Fowler were not ready for the intense backlash that the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie generated from impassioned fans and casual observers alike. Sonic’s design was all wrong, the eyes were too wide apart, he appeared freakishly human and the teeth, those were unsettling.
Rumor has it that even SEGA was upset by the character design, particularly the eyes, which looked nothing like the videogame character’s at all.
After messing with perfection, Fowler decided to delay the movie’s release for several months to give way to a complete redesign.
A new trailer just dropped, unveiling the redesigned Sonic in all his glory. The character finally looked identical to the lightning-quick SEGA character that we all know and love:
What a difference a few months made! Gone are the mouthful of human teeth, the weird fur, and the lanky, human-like physique. This is definitely the glow up of the century.
As expected, the redesign drew positive reactions online, fans loved how the live-action character was faithful to the classic design and how the redesign matched the lighthearted humor of the movie.
Fans have artist Tyson Hesse to thank. Hesse, who drew the Sonic comic books published under Archie Comics (Sonic Mania Adventures), stuck close to the source material. The old design, which was inspired by Ted the living teddy bear, of all things, was completely scrapped.
Some of the features that were tweaked were Sonic’s eyes, which became larger and drawn closer together; his eye color was also a brighter shade of green. He’s got fewer teeth! The cringe-y PUMA running shoes were also changed so they resemble the red and white soap shoes that Sonic wears from the games, still by PUMA though. Gone are the furry man’s hands, rightfully replaced by gloves. Sonic’s body is no longer freakishly human-like; he’s now smaller, cuter.
After the trailer was released, Hesse tweeted a big thank you to all the fans as well as the animators who helped with the redesign, a tremendous task that was done so late into production:
“Thank you for your patience and support. This wouldn’t have been possible without the fans. “Honored to have been brought in to lead the design on the new Movie Sonic. Working with Jeff and the modelers, riggers, texture/fur artists and animators in LA, London, and Vancouver was a thrill I’ll never forget. #SonicMovie”
Incidentally, Hesse created his own version of the character amidst the Sonic design backlash. His version looked virtually the same as the redesigned Sonic. His work as the animation director for trailers and animated cut-scenes for Sonic Mania in 2017 made Hesse the perfect man for the job. The similarities between his own version of Sonic and the redesigned Sonic suggest that Jeff Fowler and Paramount execs have their eyes on Hesse while being under intense scrutiny by fans.
Here is the original design that Hesse tweeted shortly after the original Sonic live-action trailer was dropped:
Meanwhile, director Jeff Fowler was a great sport, he thanked the millions of Sonic the Hedgehog fans and their horrified reactions because they made the film even better than before.
“Could not be more excited to share our new Sonic with you,” he tweeted.
The delay and subsequent character design added another$5 million to its original $90 million budget for a total of $95 million. Sonic the Hedgehog will hit theaters on February 14th, 2020.