sonic the hedgehog 2

Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) and Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) go head to head.

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America/Paramount+©2022 Paramount Pictures and Sega of America, Inc.

By Kelly Ohannessian

After decades of success in the video game world, cartoons, and comic books, Sonic made the dash to the big screen with 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog film. Now the extraterrestrial blue speedster is back, along with some new friends, in the sequel, newly arrived on Paramount+. Here’s a look at the history of the character—and what he’s up to in his latest starring role.

Watch Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Paramount+.

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Playful Origins

Animated red Knuckles and blue Sonic head to head with angry faces

Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) and Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) go head to head.

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America/Paramount+©2022 Paramount Pictures and Sega of America, Inc.

The first game to feature Sonic was 1991’s Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis console. The quick-paced platforming title was game manufacturer Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s famous mascot Mario.

Sega’s approach embraced the edginess that epitomized the ’90s. Sonic has an attitude, stamping his foot and looking at his watch if you stop too long to admire the game’s vibrant graphics.

Sonic would go on to appear in three other games of that era, including Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic and Knuckles. He reappeared in 1998 with the critically acclaimed Sonic Adventure for Sega’s last console, the Dreamcast, with a makeover: The lightning-fast hedgehog was redesigned to be more colorful and modern, but retained his personality and speed.

Movie Stardom

Sonic sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn in his lap next to a golden retriever

Sonic chills with some popcorn and a four-legged friend.

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America/Paramount+©2022 Paramount Pictures and Sega of America, Inc.

A variety of Sonic games with different unique gimmicks appeared over the next two decades, some with questionable choices (a human romantic interest? turning into a werewolf?!), but fandom for the character remained strong.

Several cartoons over the years and a long-running series by Archie Comics also kept Sonic on the pop culture map. More recently, the character’s race to the big screen helped grown-up fans rekindle their love for Sonic—and allowed a new generation of young fans to discover him.

After an online hubbub over the first version of the character shown in trailers, a more faithful Sonic appeared in the 2020 film Sonic the Hedgehog. The plot led Sonic through a portal from his world to ours, his youthful recklessness causing him to be discovered then befriended by a cop named Tom, and then hunted down by evil genius Dr. Robotnik, who was determined to exploit the otherworldly energy behind Sonic’s speed. Of course, Sonic and Tom defeated the villain, sending him through a portal to a mushroom world.

In the eagerly anticipated sequel, favorite characters return and intriguing new ones debut.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Animated Sonic the Hedgehog making fists with a blue glow around him

Sonic exudes a blue glow.

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America/Paramount+©2022 Paramount Pictures and Sega of America, Inc.

Fans will be happy to know that Sonic’s edgy humor and exuberance are intact in the new movie. Comedian Ben Schwartz (Parks and Rec and House of Lies) provides the voice for the wisecracking hedgehog, who finds himself facing higher-stakes challenges and fierce enemies in his latest adventures.

Dr. Robotnik

\u200bJim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik looking at a small holographic Sonic

Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America/Paramount+©2022 Paramount Pictures and Sega of America, Inc.

Jim Carrey returns as the evil genius who is Sonic’s archnemesis. Carrey is a fitting choice for Dr. Robotnik (a.k.a. Eggman), considering that—like Sonic—he first caught the public’s attention in the ’90s. Carrey starred in the sketch comedy show In Living Color then went on to hilarious turns in films like Dumb and Dumber and Me, Myself, and Irene before tackling more dramatic roles such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

In Sonic 2, Carrey revisits his wacky roots as a manic villain on a quest to conquer Sonic. This time, Robotnik ups the ante and plans to use more than just robot drones to help him with his diabolical scheme.

Knuckles the Echidna

Animated Knuckles the Echidna running with a red glow behind him

Knuckles puts on a burst of speed.

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America/Paramount+©2022 Paramount Pictures and Sega of America, Inc.

Knuckles, a warrior from another world, becomes an ally of Robotnik on a mission targeting Sonic. The powerful bruiser is voiced by veteran actor Idris Elba, best known for his roles in The Wire and the British detective series Luther.

Elba is no stranger to computer graphic-heavy films. He has appeared in Marvel movies and the adaptation of the musical Cats, and his gravitas lends itself well to the honorable stoicism of Knuckles.

Miles “Tails” Prower

Animated Tails making a smug face

Tails strikes a serious pose.

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America/Paramount+©2022 Paramount Pictures and Sega of America, Inc.

Knuckles isn’t the only new character. After a cameo at the end of the first film, Tails becomes a full-fledged participant in Sonic 2. The young fox who can fly using his two tails quickly becomes a friend and sidekick to Sonic.

He is voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey, who has worked on a variety of cartoons and video games and voiced Tails in multiple Sonic the Hedgehog games.

Tom and Maddie

\u200bJames Marsden as Tom Wachowski and Tika Sumpter as Maddie Wachowski standing next to an animated Sonic

James Marsden as Tom Wachowski and Tika Sumpter as Maddie Wachowski stand next to Sonic.

Photo: Paramount Pictures and Sega of America/Paramount+©2022 Paramount Pictures and Sega of America, Inc.

Picking up where the first film left off, humans Tom and Maddie have become more than just allies and friends of Sonic’s. They’re now his chosen family, and as the sequel starts, they’re still adjusting to life with a super-powered hedgehog in it.

Tom is played by James Marsden, of X-Men, Westworld, and Hop, where he befriended another animated protagonist—the Easter Bunny. Maddie is played by Tika Sumpter, who spent years on One Life to Live and appeared as Michelle Obama in the film Southside With You.

There’s good news in store for fans: This won’t be the last we see of Sonic. A third film is in development, and this winter the beloved blue hedgehog will star in the new video game Sonic Frontiers.

Watch Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Paramount+.

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