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Sonic 3 Needs To Avoid A Worrying Shadow The Hedgehog Trend

With Sonic the Hedgehog 3 expected to revolve around Shadow, there’s one trend from the Sonic video games that the movie should steer clear of. Sonic the Hedgehog has so far avoided the curse of video game movies mostly being subpar in quality. The franchise even managed to find success with consecutive films, whereas other video game adaptations struggle to spawn sequels. But another common curse concerns the trilogy. And with the third Sonic movie set to revolve around such a controversial character, the stars might align against the sequel if Paramount Pictures isn’t careful.

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Introduced in 2001’s Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow the Hedgehog has become a staple of the video game franchise, having appeared in the majority of titles in the series since. The black hedgehog helped introduce the games to a depth of storytelling they hadn’t achieved before. So it’s unfortunate that the character, who was once so beloved, has become the subject of much derision. However, there is a traceable reason for the decline of Shadow the Hedgehog.

Related: Casting Shadow For Sonic The Hedgehog 3

If Sonic the Hedgehog 3 wants to keep up the momentum of the franchise, the movie needs to avoid the trend of making Shadow overly dark and uncooperative. Ever since his self-titled game, there has been a concerning trend of making Shadow a brooding, solitary figure, who could manage to cut steel with his edge. This representation, unfortunately, follows a fundamental misunderstanding of what made audiences gravitate toward the character in his first appearance.


Shadow The Hedgehog Has Been Misunderstood, But Sonic 3 Can Fix That

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Shadow the Hedgehog was bad for its title character’s image. Despite the game’s true ending being consistent with his characterization, its marketing and direction were focused on darkness and violence, which was less than helpful. This led to the Flanderization of the character, to where he’s typically portrayed as a brooding loner whose antisocial tendencies come from him believing himself to be superior to others, especially Sonic. This is in conflict with Shadow’s representation in Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes, and Sonic ’06.

Throughout the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, Shadow has never been the most sociable character. However, this wasn’t because of egotism. If anything, while he may brood, Shadow was traditionally more invested in his friendships than even Sonic at times. His relationship with Maria proved that on its own, reaching the point where he went out of his way to avenge her. Afterward, he formed a meaningful friendship with the likes of Rouge the Bat and Eggman’s own vengeful creation, Omega. That friendship carried over into Sonic ’06, where it was a massive part of Shadow’s role in that game. Even in the case of his blue counterpart, Shadow generally considers Sonic a rival, not an inferior being. So while installments like Sonic Boom watered him down to an egotist who mocks the very idea of friendship and camaraderie, those ideas have always been at the heart of the character. Not only would it not fit the character, but if Sonic the Hedgehog 3 does wind up teaching Shadow the value of friendship, it’d just be a repeat of Knuckles’s story in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Shadow’s problem in Sonic Adventure 2 was his fixation on revenge, despite Maria — his reason for doing any of it — not wanting that. It was the theme of not just the character, but the entire game. Shadow wanted revenge on GUN, Eggman wanted revenge, Gerald Robotnik wanted revenge, it was a vicious cycle. The next movie already has many of the pieces it’d need to tell a different, but thematically similar story. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 needs to avoid a redundant friendship arc for Shadow and the movie and focus on the revenge plot that made the character work the first time.


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