The Mid-Credits Cameo in 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Hints at a Sequel


Note: This post contains spoilers for Sonic the Hedgehog, featuring the vocal talents of our cover star, Ben Schwartz.

After enduring endless mockery and a complete redesign, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, based on the legendary Sega video-game hero, has finally hit theaters. Sonic's teeth are no longer as prominent and his legs are less bizarrely humanoid, but he remains, for the most part, the lone animated character throughout most of this saga, save for a origin-story prologue and the mid-credits scene featuring a familiar character with multiple tails, which we'll get to in a bit. (Jim Carrey merely seems to be a cartoon character playing Dr. Robotnik.)

Sonic the Hedgehog, directed by Jeff Fowler, is a fish-out-of-water tale that mostly consists of James Marsden mugging to a CG alien hedgehog that definitely wasn't present on set. In a flashback, the audience learns that our fast friend has been sent to Earth by his owl guardian named Longclaw, a new character to the venerable frachise, after some unidentified bad guys on his home planet catch wind of his super-speed powers. (What they want to do with Sonic's ability to go fast is never really explained.) Just before Longclaw seemingly, well, dies, she throws out a ring that zaps Sonic to Earth.

Anyway, he bides his time stalking the townspeople like Marsden's cop, Tom, who he deems "Donut Lord." Consumed by loneliness, Sonic plays a solo game of baseball and then runs really fast, causing a massive power surge. He figures it's time to use another ring and escape to a depressing mushroom planet, when he's accidentally tranquilized by the Donut Lord, accidentally losing his rings in the process. The good news is that Tom and Sonic become interspecies pals who team up to outrun the evil Ivo Robotnik who the U.S. military tasks with sussing out the potential threat.

Naturally, after some detours to a biker bar and San Francisco, Sonic and Tom defeat Robotnik, sending him to the mushroom planet. Sonic, meanwhile, gets to stay in Montana with Tom and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter), living in their attic. A happy ending, but that's not the true conclusion! Given that this is a 21st-century blockbuster, there's a mid-credits scene and it features a recognizable pal. With a whoosh of wind, Tails, the two-tailed fox from the video games, appears! He's on the hunt for Sonic and he's hoping it's not too late. Off he goes, his namesake appendage whirring like a helicopter.

In the lead up to Sonic's release, arguably the biggest question about the plot revolved around whether any of the title character's canonical friends would appear. Tails -- full name: Miles Prower as in "miles per hour" -- was introduced for the second Sonic game produced by Sega Genesis in 1992. In the book Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation author Blake Harris explains that the concept for Tails was based on folkloric Japanese foxes known as kitsune who develop multiple tails that give them various powers. 

Tails' appearance in this context elicits a bunch of questions: Do Tails and Sonic know each other? Why does Tails need to find Sonic? What's going on? 

Sonic the Hedgehog is not the disaster some were anticipating after the hectic production and promotion cycle. It's not a masterpiece, obviously. Many of the jokes fall flat, of the product placement is egregious, and it drags out the climax in a manner that tests your patience. However, it's not embarrassing and Carrey's performance could almost be described as inspired. If the box office isn't dismal, a sequel could very well follow. 

But we have one remaining query: Where is Knuckles? Well, the Echidna wasn't introduced until the third Sonic video game so if you're holding out for an appearance you better hope this thing becomes a franchise.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.