This article contains Sonic the Hedgehog 2 spoilers.
A certain Punxsutawney groundhog may or may not get to see his shadow each February, but it was in April 2022 we all got our first glimpse of Sonic the Hedgehog’s shadow on the big screen. And for Sega fans who came of age during the Dreamcast’s reign, it was glorious.
Following in the footsteps of the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie, which concluded with both a tease of Dr. Robotnik’s imminent return and Tails arriving to Green Hills in search of his blue-hued buddy, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 teases a couple of things in its post-credits scene. If you didn’t stay for them (or would like a breakdown of what it all means), please read on…
The Return of Robotnik?
The post-credits scene begins with the U.S. military cleaning up the aftermath of Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s climax. Super Sonic is gone, and Knuckles and Tails have joined Sonic’s makeshift family. Yet the debris left by their battle with Eggman’s kaiju-sized robot remains, as does the unanswered question of Eggman’s whereabouts.
When last we saw Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik, he realized he had lost his fight against an alien hedgehog that had gone Super Saiyan on him. “Fine, we aren’t friends,” the evil genius quips as he and his de-powered robot collapse to the earth in what surely looks like a fireball of death.
When we pick up with the nondescript military general in the post-credits scene, he says surely no one could survive such a disaster. Yet the confirmation that they have not found a body suggests that the Eggman did survive. And his old buddy, Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) is seen hiding undercover among military personnel, suggesting he is still searching for his old boss whom he adores a little too much.
This obviously leaves wiggle room for Dr. Robotnik to return in the inevitable Sonic the Hedgehog 3. For what is Sonic without his Eggman? However, since Carrey has also said he’s seriously considering retiring from acting after Sonic 2, the lack of a body means the franchise could theoretically move on with Robotnik being “gone” in the event that the actor is not persuaded to come back with the right script (or contract).
But this is all small potatoes compared to the bigger reveal…
What is Project Shadow?
The real quality fan service in the post-credits sequence doesn’t come around until an underling tells our nondescript army man that somehow the inter-dimensional chaos enveloping Green Hills is related to an old defunct military project that’s been in mothballs for decades.
“My God,” says the nameless general. “Project Shadow.” As this revelation is unspooled, we see the outline of a black and red hedgehog floating in a water tank, waiting for his moment in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
This teased creature is, of course, Shadow the Hedgehog, the most ruthless hedgehog/anthropomorphic character in the Sonic mythos. Introduced in Sonic Adventure 2 on the Sega Dreamcast in 2001, Shadow was the second badass doppelgänger introduced to rival the franchise’s titular hedgehog after Knuckles’ appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on the Sega Genesis in 1994. Unlike Knuckles though, Shadow never became a true team player or part of the “family,” as seen in the newest Sonic film.
Rather Shadow, who is an actual hedgehog like Sonic, is a lone-wolf antihero with a dark soul and attitude. Indeed, in his own spinoff game, Shadow the Hedgehog (2005), he’s allowed to use guns and fight in a way that Sonic would never approve of. However, as hinted at in the new post-credits scene, Shadow is far older than the blue blur.
Shadow is a genetically engineered immortal, created 50 years prior to the events of Sonic the Hedgehog by Gerald Robotnik (the grandfather of Carrey’s Dr. Ivo Robotnik). Gerald created Shadow to help cure his granddaughter Maria of her terminal illness. It did not work, but Shadow formed a close connection with Maria Robotnik, which made her death all the more traumatic when government agents working for Guardian Units of Nations (G.U.N.) stormed the Robotnik facilities to capture Shadow and killed Maria in the process. They then froze Shadow in suspended animation until he was discovered and set loose by Eggman 50 years later, and manipulated into trying to kill Sonic!
Sonic made a quip in his newest movie about Knuckles being “the Winter Soldier,” but Shadow is the real Bucky Barnes of this lore. He’s dark, brooding, and has a history of leaving bodies in his wake. While he’s teamed up with Sonic from time to time, he prefers to keep his own counsel while running on glowing hoverboots that can outpace the younger hedgehog.
How much of this backstory will be transported to Hollywood remains a mystery, but rest assured a Shadow has been cast over Sonic the Hedgehog 3…