Warning! This article consists of nothing but spoilers for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. We have a spoiler free review here.
Gotta go fast! With those words from the very first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog we had a feeling this movie would contain a ton of references for longtime fans. After seeing the film we put together a complete guide to all the references, obscure trivia, and other hidden gems in this way past cool film.
The Opening Scene
– Right off the bat we find Sonic on his home planet. The overall design closely resembles Green Hill Zone from the very first Sonic game, including the giant loop-de-loops. The planet is never named although longtime fans will assume it’s a stand-in for Mobius, a planet from many different versions of Sonic’s continuity.
– Baby Sonic (well, that’s what we’re calling him) meets up with his guardian, Longclaw. This instantly makes us wonder if Sonic is an orphan in this films continuity. Sonic has generally been portrayed as not really having a family, although in the Archie comics it was established he was raised by his grandfather since his parents had been turned into robots thanks to Robotnik. Perhaps in this movie they simply died and Longclaw has been taking care of him.
– Speaking of Longclaw, you might be wondering if this is a character from the video games. Nope, Longclaw is an original character for the movie! There have been several owl characters in previous Sonic shows and comics, including Old Man Owl from the Sonic OVA and Harvey Who from the comics, but Longclaw is all new!
– Baby Sonic brings Longclaw a flower which seems to resemble the flowers that would appear in Sonic CD when you destroyed a Badnik. They also look like the flowers from the very first Sonic game on the Genesis as well!
– Who are those people attacking Sonic, wanting his powers? Well those are Echidnas! You probably know about Sonic’s friendly (chucklin’) nemesis Knuckles the Echidna, right? If you don’t we have an article for you! Well these are some of his people! We curiously don’t see any of their faces since they’re all wearing masks. What do they have to hide? It does imply that there is an Echidna society of some kind on Sonic’s planet, which is pretty consistent with Echidna’s we’ve seen in the first Sonic Adventure game especially. In that game the Knuckles Clan wanted power and would attack others to get it. The Echidna’s in the film also shared some resemblce with the Knuckles Clan from that game as well. We’ll need a sequel to find out more about them!
– As confirmed by the map we later see Sonic with, the island Sonic lives on is a direct reference to South Island from the first Sonic Game Gear game. The map is almost a one-to-one copy of the map that appears in the game!
– In the film Sonic’s rings give him the ability to transport himself to different worlds. While the rings in various Sonic continuity’s have had different purposes the main one in the games was simply to get points and stay alive. If an enemy hit you, you lost all your rings and quickly had to recover as many as possible. If you didn’t, you died. Sometimes, if you collected enough rings, a giant ring in the sky would appear at the end of a level that would send you to a bonus stage.
In the Sonic SatAM series, rings were simply a power-up for Sonic that allowed him to run faster. They also were able to briefly restore the free will of roboticized victims.
– It’s interesting to note that the “zones” from the Sonic games have been adapted into being parallel worlds in the film. This isn’t totally unheard of in Sonic lore. In the early issues of the Archie Comics the “Zone” term was used to describe the different regions on Mobius. This didn’t last long but it speaks to how different creative teams have interrupted the various levels in Sonic’s games.
What is the Mushroom Planet?
– The “Mushroom Planet” directly evokes Mushroom Hill Zone from the first level of Sonic & Knuckles. In that zone the various mushrooms could be used as springs and platforms for Sonic to jump on.
– We also noticed on a second viewing that in the top middle of that map? You can see the logo for the Sega Saturn! Nice! Thanks to StubbzE in the comments for that one.
– Thanks to Karby64 on Twitter we’ve also learned what else the map references. One of the worlds is the “Blue Sphere” world that first showed up on Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Another references concept art made for the first Sonic game (specifically the sun.) In the bottom right corner there’s also a Chaos Emerald which could very well be the Master Emerald!
– In a cute nod, Sonic is seen very quickly reading The Flash comics. Checking with our resident Flash expert at Den of Geek Mike Cecchini, he was able to confirm that these comics are mostly from the early 80’s. The one pictured above features a plot where Flash it on trial for the murder of the Reverse-Flash.
– The design on Sonic’s headband is a direct reference to the title screen logo from the very first Sonic game.
– Sonic is using a highway exit sign as a ping-pong table. That scene is for “Hill Top Rd” and Hill Top Zone was the fifth level in Sonic the Hedgehog 2!
– The name of the town Sonic lives in, Green Hills, is of course a reference to Green Hill Zone from the very first Sonic game.
– When Sonic was explaining where he lived before Earth the music playing was directly taken from the opening of Sonic Mania.
No, you didn’t imagine it. They really did find a way to include the infamous “Sanic” drawing in this movie. Crazy Carl, who believes he’s seen Sonic throughout the town, shows the police a drawing he made of him and it’s a near exact replica of a well known Sonic meme. In a brief history, a YouTuber uploaded a video on how to draw Sonic but did it very poorly. They accidentally misspelled Sonic as “Sanic” and thus the meme was born.
– The history of Doctor Robotnik/Eggman is a tricky one no matter which version of the character you’re trying to follow. In the development of the original Sonic game he was given the name Doctor Eggman for the Japanese release and Robotnik for the American release. However as the years have gone on most of the American games just call him Robotnik.
The movie gets to play it both ways with the character being officially named Robotnik but getting the derisive nickname of Eggman.
– Robotnik’s red flight suit evokes the kinds of outfits Robotnik often has in the games.
– It’s also great to see that Robotnik’s penchant for attacking Sonic while flying in some kind of mechanical vehicle is retained for the main action set piece of the film.
– When Robotnik has to switch on his power after it being knocked out by Sonic’s quill we see a piece of tape with the word “Badnik” written on it. The Badniks are Robotnik’s robots that are seen throughout the various Sonic video games and cartoons. We can assume that the robots Robotnik sends after Sonic are supposed to be the Badniks.
– When Robotnik turns on his playlists of music you can just barely see one of the playlists contains songs by Crush 40, a band most famous for their songs that have been included in Sonic games. Thanks to Sarah on twitter for that one!
Sonic in the City
– This is a bit of a reach but having so much of the action in the film take place in San Francisco gives us strong vibes of the opening level from Sonic Adventure 2, which was titled ‘City Escape.’
– SEGA and the US branch of Sonic Team had been located in San Francisco for a number of years so setting a nice chunk of the movie there is a nice tip of the hat.
– Throughout the film we get several classic Sonic lines but none more so than “gotta go fast.” This line came into popularity thanks to the Sonic X TV series, whose theme song was simply named “Gotta Go Fast.” In the years since it’s become a well beloved internet meme.
– Was I mishearing things or did Sonic say “no good!” If so, that’s a direct nod to the “Sonic Says” segments of The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. These were little PSA’s where Sonic would help teach kids basic lessons. “No good” comes from the most famous of these segments where Sonic discusses sexual harassment. It was even referenced in Sonic’s appearance on OK K.O.!
– Not exactly a quote but when Tom tells Sonic he can do whatever he wants in the hotel room you can see in the top left corner that Sonic is precariously perched at the edge of a shelf, his arms waving in the air. This is exactly what would happen in several Sonic games if you got too close to the edge.
The Ending/Mid-Credits Scene
– We wrote about this more in our Ending Explained article but yes, that was Tails! He originally appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and if there’s a sequel to this film, it’d be appropriate for Tails to share the spotlight with Sonic! The current voice for Tails in the video games and cartoons, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, provided his voice for this scenee!
– The song that’s playing in the background just before Tom and Maddie give Sonic his own room is a version of the Green Hill Zone music from the very first Sonic game.
– This isn’t the first time Sonic has had a racecar bed, he’s also been portrayed as having one in the Archie comics.
-Robotnik’s mustache in his final scene more closely resembles his mustache from the games and comics.
Did you spot any other easter eggs? Let me know in the comments and if it checks out, I’ll update the piece and give you a shout out!
Thanks to SuperSonicEx for the help with some of the facts in this article, especially about the Knuckles Clan from Sonic Adventure!
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter! He also co-hosts a Robotech podcast, which covers the original series and the new comics. Give it a listen! Read more articles by him here!