Film and TV producer Adi Shankar has responded to Jim Carrey’s critical comments about the decision to redesign Sonic the Hedgehog. Upon the release of the first full Sonic the Hedgehog trailer for the movie featuring Sega’s blue speedster mascot, his CGI design received such a vociferous backlash that the film’s release was pushed back three months to allow the character to be redesigned and give the film’s VFX team enough time to re-render the his appearances.
Carrey, who stars in the film as the villainous mad engineer Dr. Robotnik (who some fans may be more familiar with as Dr. Eggman), disagreed with the decision. He was asked about the decision to redesign the character while at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, stating he was uncomfortable about “the audience being in on the creation” of a feature while it was still in production. He also claimed that the “collective consciousness” results in people wanting things without caring about why they should and just “[jumping] on the bandwagon,” and that it’s a dangerous precedent to allow decision-making to be swayed by audience opinion resulting from “a sense of ownership from their childhood.”
Carrey’s comments were responded to by Shankar in a brief open letter, which he exclusively sent to Screen Rant. It reads as follows:
The audience isn’t “in on the creation” of the film you acted in. Sonic the Hedgehog was already created, decades ago. This film you lended your talents to adapted him incorrectly. It’s this perspective that Hollywood is entitled to dismantle iconography as it sees fit and reassemble it in ways that often bear little resemblance to the source that has led to the friction between gamers and the film industry.
While not involved in the production of Sonic the Hedgehog, Shankar is certainly well versed in the stakes involved when adapting material beloved by legions of fans, having produced the criminally unsequellized 2012 Dredd movie and Netflix’s acclaimed Castlevania series. He is also the creator of the Bootleg Universe, a series of unconnected short fan films featuring subversive reimaginings of popular properties such as Power Rangers, James Bond, The Powerpuff Girls and Venom.
You can’t deny that Shankar’s response has a certain weight to it. Given that the purpose of adapting a popular property is to appeal to its existing fanbase, mutating its central character into something so far removed from the source that it appears barely recognizable is a line of thinking destined for failure. It’s particularly egregious in this case when Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most iconic video game characters in history, whose core visual design has remained largely consistent since his debut almost three decades ago in 1991.
Shankar’s comments also touch on the notoriously negative reactions typically received by video game adaptations, their failure often being down to the movies taking only basic inspiration from their source material and instead crafting something with little resemblance to what it was originally that also fails to understand the initial appeal. Whatever you might feel about the issue, the decision to overhaul Sonic the Hedgehog has likely saved it from a similar reception.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) release date: Feb 14, 2020