“Knock, knock,” actor Idris Elba tweeted out Tuesday afternoon. Perfect bits of casting have started with less. Indeed, Elba’s playful post, along with the below poster of a clinched white fist and red, furry arm, revealed that the character of Knuckles will appear in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and that he’ll be voiced by the English thespian who once single handedly cancelled the apocalypse by here virtue of charisma alone. How fitting.
Knuckles is of course everyone’s favorite short-beaked echidna—not least of all because they likely have never seen an actual photo of those spiky Australian mammals that lay eggs (no really, look it up!). First appearing in 1994 with Sonic the Hedgehog 3 for Sega Genesis, the red dude with even more attitude was essentially created to be a cooler and tougher version of the blue hedgehog. Ever since then he’s been cutting a path of badassery through the Sega library.
It is, in fact, hard to imagine many older millennials who wouldn’t say Knuckles is the coolest character in the Sonic library. While he appeared as a non-playable antagonist in Sonic 3, the following year saw Knuckles co-star with Sonic in the aptly titled Sonic and Knuckles, also for the Sega Genesis. That game featured the rather nifty trick of coming with a port that allowed gamers to insert Knuckles into previous, older Sega games like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and 3. With his red appearance and devil-may-care attitude, Knuckles initially stood out because he could run almost as fast as Sonic and also had the ability to glide over long distances and climb walls with his spiky, titular knuckles.
The character has somewhat lulled in popularity over the last 25 years as the Sonic cast of characters has grown to comically large heights. The character also got a revamp when he was turned into the stoic guardian of the Master Crystal on the floating Angel Island in Sonic Adventure (1998). But by casting someone like Elba as the voice of the tough guy rodent, Paramount Pictures and director Jeff Fowley know which CGI critter should appear as the coolest of them all.
Elba of course broke into the mainstream on British television via shows like the groundbreaking Luther. In the U.S., he’s risen to prominence over the last decade with starring roles in a variety of blockbuster films which include Pacific Rim, Prometheus, and the Thor movies. He’s also more recently stood out with his SAG winning role in Beasts of No Nation and as one of the leads in James Gunn’s delightfully warped The Suicide Squad.
Knuckles is likely an easygoing role for the esteemed actor, but there’s little doubt Elba won’t bring his signature brooding stoicism, and ability to make a colorful threat, to the sequel of a movie which previously saw Jim Carrey in a bald cap playing Dr. Robotnik. So why not?