On Thursday, 48 hours after the world finally saw what this November’s live-action movie would look like, its director took to Twitter with a surprise announcement: that’s, uh, not what the live-action movie will look like.
“Thank you for the support,” film director Jeff Fowler posted to Twitter on Thursday afternoon.
“And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren’t happy with the design, and you want changes. It’s going to happen.”
After acknowledging the support of film studio Paramount and game company Sega, Fowler included a pretty telling hashtag: “#gottafixfast.” It’s not just a riff on the series’ iconic “gotta go fast” slogan” but rather a stark admission that Fowler’s vague suggestion for a “changed design” is running headlong into a six-month timeframe. The film is still scheduled for a November 8, 2019, release and will be Fowler’s feature-length directorial debut.
Fowler’s tweet doesn’t acknowledge months of public questions and comments about the live-action Sonic design. The murmurs and furrowed brows began in December of last year when the film’s premiere poster debuted, showing a silhouette of the redesigned gaming mascot—long, thin legs and all. The redesign ran head-long into years of 2D and 3D renders of the character across a multimedia landscape of video games, comic books, dolls, and animated series, and it followed a prior teaser poster that showed a real-world city from the perspective of Sonic’s crotch—thus emphasizing his new design’s long, thin legs.
Complaints reached a fever pitch when a series of promotional slides about the Sonic film, prepared by an associated promotional company, leaked in early March. The film’s trailer has since confirmed the accuracy of those March images, though that leak didn’t include one particularly stomach-churning detail: live-action Sonic’s mouth of teeth, a first for the character since it was introduced in 1991.
This week’s Sonic film trailer appeared just as promotions for next week’s film ramp up. While longtime Pokémon fans may bristle at the CGI-ized versions of certain characters, those fans certainly dodged a bullet compared to Sonic’s diehards. adds a handful of sometimes-lovely, sometimes-odd real-life effects to its character renders, but their designs otherwise conform to the 3D specs that series developer Game Freak has established and refined in years of games dating back to the N64 era.
Since the new Sonic design’s leak, original members of the development team have offered their own conflicting opinions on the matter. After the March leak, series programmer Yuji Naka said he was “shocked” by the redesign and was particularly baffled by why the character’s hands had become covered in white fur, instead of being covered in gloves. Another Naka tweet expressed hope that a live-action Sonic eventually conforms to the “rounder” shape of head and eyes from his original design.
So far, various Sonics have appeared. I loved all Sonics. I saw a trailer of Sonic’s movie. I was expecting adults to have fun too. I am worried. pic.twitter.com/QgBfrTJ700
— Naoto Ohshima (@NaotoOhshima) May 2, 2019
Meanwhile, shortly before Fowler’s change of heart, original series artist Naoto Ohshima posted his own sketch of the new live-action design (shown above). The sketch’s caption includes a message of support for the film and concern about knee-jerk reactions: “I was expecting adults to have fun, too. I am worried.”
In the meantime, while we wait to see whether next week’s live-action film truly breaks the “video game curse” on movie adaptations, I recommend enjoying last year’s —which doesn’t necessarily break that curse, but at least has a darned good time playing fast and loose with its ’80s arcade inspirations.