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What made the Sonic the Hedgehog movies work better than other video game movies?


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So of course, the Sonic the Hedgehog movies have been doing pretty well with the audience and at the box office.  So, I wanted to ask you guys about why you think that the Sonic the Hedgehog movies are doing much better than most of the other video game movies?

For me, I think that the Sonic the Hedgehog movies are doing better than most of the other video game movies because they actually took the time to focus on developing the characters.  One of the biggest issues that I've seen with many video game movies (with the exception of Detective Pikachu) is that they just throw the characters into an adventure without really explaining to the audience about where these characters came from or what their motives are throughout the movie.  Just because Sonic the Hedgehog is a popular franchise, it doesn't mean that everyone has played the games. If movie goers went into a Sonic movie with no knowledge of the franchise, then they would be very confused about what is going on in the movie or they wouldn't really care about the characters because the movies failed to develop the characters in a way that the audience would start connecting with the characters.

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One of the things that can't be overlooked is the amount of attention the movie received over the whole Ugly Sonic debacle. It wasn't an intentional PR stunt, but it effectively worked like one. That was what really got everyone invested.

Second, Jim Carrey. He's a famous actor and people were going to see the movie for him alone, no way around that fact. 

Now as for the film's writing and plot itself, it committed itself to something more 'newcomer friendly' than just an adaptation of one of the game's stories. Maybe it should've been, but there's a reason there's so many CG talking animal people in the real world movies: they work, and they make money... and make no mistake, it worked. There's something to be said about a movie series like the live action Alvin and the Chipmunks; pure focus-tested corporately churned slop that is designed to make as much money as possible. Despite being objective trash, people still come to see it. 

The Sonic Movie escapes the "corporate trash" label, in part, because of the Ugly Sonic redesign thing. They got a lot of good press from that. The other thing is that the story itself isn't really bad or contrived. It's not a traditional Sonic story by any means, but it's something that is going to resonate with a lot of parents bringing their kids to see a movie. 

I think one of the reasons I endeared myself to the movie despite being very, very far from what I would've wanted from a Sonic film is because I knew exactly what they were up to, and I thought it worked well for what it was. I mean, I liked it.

It has two very focused stories/lessons going on that tie together very well: for Sonic, it's learning not to run away from your problems and to use your talents to help others. For Tom, it's learning that it's important to be where you're needed, and sometimes that place is right where you already are. Sonic and Tom's arcs compliment each others and it very clearly sets up a surrogate father-son relationship. When people criticize Sonic 2 for not having enough of the human characters, I think what they're trying to say is they wanted to see this relationship develop or be challenged. 

Is this something I think Sonic was meant for? Heck no. Of course not. No. Why would anyone think of this. But they did it, and it resonated with enough people to fund Sonic 2, and that's that. It was a coherent and easy to follow story with enough immature jokes to keep the kids giggling. 

It worked out to be the best video game movie ever... by not following the structure of the video games. At all. And Sonic 2 may come off as a weaker movie by doing that, as a lot of reviews seem to indicate... although I think Sonic 2 is an overall better Sonic movie, if that makes sense.

 

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It picked and chose elements to pull from the games instead of directly adapting them or outright disregarding them. 

And it brings them together in a way that feels aligned with the games. 

Often times video game movies from before were incredibly surface level (in many ways the first one is pretty surface level) with the game elements. Or some would course correct and use very baseless lip service for game elements in place of good storytelling. 

Sonic just sort of hit a nice middle ground for a lot of people, warts and all. And it didn't forget to try and be a good movie. 

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Of the video game films I’ve seen, issues range from either “you need to have experience with the games to understand this” to “we’re going to overexplain everything” (assassin’s creed, where the historical stuff wasn’t as focused on and the present time stuff felt like a lot of exposition of what is even going on).

My impression is: Sonic kinda just went “hey, here’s a colorful anthropomorphic animal, he’s fast and a kid. Here’s a human that’s going to partner with him, and a human coming after him. Have a fun roadtrip with them.” It felt like they took the very basic details of Sonic and his speed, wrote a fun story that people can enjoy, and then wove some game details in. And then 2 took it further but still has that generally fun adventure feel, even if critically it was average.

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8 hours ago, Indigo Rush said:

One of the things that can't be overlooked is the amount of attention the movie received over the whole Ugly Sonic debacle. It wasn't an intentional PR stunt, but it effectively worked like one. That was what really got everyone invested.

Second, Jim Carrey. He's a famous actor and people were going to see the movie for him alone, no way around that fact. 

Now as for the film's writing and plot itself, it committed itself to something more 'newcomer friendly' than just an adaptation of one of the game's stories. Maybe it should've been, but there's a reason there's so many CG talking animal people in the real world movies: they work, and they make money... and make no mistake, it worked. There's something to be said about a movie series like the live action Alvin and the Chipmunks; pure focus-tested corporately churned slop that is designed to make as much money as possible. Despite being objective trash, people still come to see it. 

The Sonic Movie escapes the "corporate trash" label, in part, because of the Ugly Sonic redesign thing. They got a lot of good press from that. The other thing is that the story itself isn't really bad or contrived. It's not a traditional Sonic story by any means, but it's something that is going to resonate with a lot of parents bringing their kids to see a movie. 

I think one of the reasons I endeared myself to the movie despite being very, very far from what I would've wanted from a Sonic film is because I knew exactly what they were up to, and I thought it worked well for what it was. I mean, I liked it.

It has two very focused stories/lessons going on that tie together very well: for Sonic, it's learning not to run away from your problems and to use your talents to help others. For Tom, it's learning that it's important to be where you're needed, and sometimes that place is right where you already are. Sonic and Tom's arcs compliment each others and it very clearly sets up a surrogate father-son relationship. When people criticize Sonic 2 for not having enough of the human characters, I think what they're trying to say is they wanted to see this relationship develop or be challenged. 

Is this something I think Sonic was meant for? Heck no. Of course not. No. Why would anyone think of this. But they did it, and it resonated with enough people to fund Sonic 2, and that's that. It was a coherent and easy to follow story with enough immature jokes to keep the kids giggling. 

It worked out to be the best video game movie ever... by not following the structure of the video games. At all. And Sonic 2 may come off as a weaker movie by doing that, as a lot of reviews seem to indicate... although I think Sonic 2 is an overall better Sonic movie, if that makes sense.

 

I agree that the fact that Paramount changed Sonic's design helped go against the Hollywood stigma about constantly changing the characters from the source material and making the film be more like a in name only adaptation rather than an actual adaptation of the source material.  I also really enjoyed Sonic and Tom's character arcs in the first movie as their arcs felt so relatable to me (Sonic being lonely and Tom trying to find a purpose in life) and the movie really tried to make you feel for the characters instead of making them into completely flat characters.

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The Sonic movies were pretty much bound to make money becausue they belong to a genre that nearly always makes money. Not video game movies, but "famous cartoon character in the real world" movies. I don't have the energy to begin to discuss why these kinds of movies always succeed, so let's just settle for that they do. Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Chipmunks, Garfield, Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, ect, they've all made money. Sonic would have stood out if it didn't make money.

The Sonic movies are pretty much crap just like all those other movies I just mentioned (except Casper, which has qualities that go way above what it needed to have) but I foresee a good consequence of their success; namely that we will finally enter that era that we've been talking about for decades; the era of video game movies. A lot of studios are gonna try to replicate the success of the Sonic films with their own video game adaptions. Video game movies have never really become a major thing in Hollywood despite the fact that almost all big budget action blockbusters nowadays are based on existing IP's. Some video game movies have become hits of course, but many more have become failures and it's the latter fact that Hollywood remembers. It's almost like the studios in recent years have been scrambling to gather any and all IP's that they can that aren't video games; comic's, TV shows, older movies, cartoons, ect. Any well known IP is okay as long as it's not a video games. So video game IP's have for the most part been untouched despite often being among the most popular IP's in the world. You'd think that Hollywood would fight with teeth and claws to make movies based on gaming mega hit series like GTA, The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear, Metroid, The Last of Us, ect, but this scenario hasn't become true yet. But like I said, I suspect that Sonic will be the series to finally make it a reality. And why is this a good thing? Eh, it's just a personal opinion of mine. There are so many interesting concepts found in video games that it would be interesting to me to see how they could be developed in a narrative movie as opposed to a game where narrative is secondary. There are also a lot of creative visual designs in video games that it would be interesing to see realized in a multi million dollar photorealistic manner.

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5 hours ago, batson said:

The Sonic movies were pretty much bound to make money becausue they belong to a genre that nearly always makes money. Not video game movies, but "famous cartoon character in the real world" movies. I don't have the energy to begin to discuss why these kinds of movies always succeed, so let's just settle for that they do. Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Chipmunks, Garfield, Scooby Doo, Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, ect, they've all made money. Sonic would have stood out if it didn't make money.

The Sonic movies are pretty much crap just like all those other movies I just mentioned (except Casper, which has qualities that go way above what it needed to have) but I foresee a good consequence of their success; namely that we will finally enter that era that we've been talking about for decades; the era of video game movies. A lot of studios are gonna try to replicate the success of the Sonic films with their own video game adaptions. Video game movies have never really become a major thing in Hollywood despite the fact that almost all big budget action blockbusters nowadays are based on existing IP's. Some video game movies have become hits of course, but many more have become failures and it's the latter fact that Hollywood remembers. It's almost like the studios in recent years have been scrambling to gather any and all IP's that they can that aren't video games; comic's, TV shows, older movies, cartoons, ect. Any well known IP is okay as long as it's not a video games. So video game IP's have for the most part been untouched despite often being among the most popular IP's in the world. You'd think that Hollywood would fight with teeth and claws to make movies based on gaming mega hit series like GTA, The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear, Metroid, The Last of Us, ect, but this scenario hasn't become true yet. But like I said, I suspect that Sonic will be the series to finally make it a reality. And why is this a good thing? Eh, it's just a personal opinion of mine. There are so many interesting concepts found in video games that it would be interesting to me to see how they could be developed in a narrative movie as opposed to a game where narrative is secondary. There are also a lot of creative visual designs in video games that it would be interesing to see realized in a multi million dollar photorealistic manner.

Batson, is there anything that will make you like these movies?

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1 hour ago, J77 said:

Batson, is there anything that will make you like these movies?

If you mean what it would take to make me like future installments, I'm really only asking for anything above the absolute bare minimum. I don't think the two movies so far are awful, but I don't think they reach the level or mediocrity either. They're not awful but they're still still kinda bad. There are tons of good childrens movies but for some reason that specific "cartoon character in the real world" sub-genre is one where anything even remotely above bottom-of-the-barrel is considered all that it takes. I disagree with that notion. Think of all the good fully animated children's movies being produced in Hollywood. Why can't we have a Sonic movie more on that level of quality in terms of writing? Like, I'm not even talking Disney or Pixar level. Even Hotel Transylvania level is above the Sonic movies (well, at least the first Hotel Tranylvania, maybe not the sequels...).

But I'm holding out hope for the third movie though, that much I can say. The mere fact that it's going to feature a character that begs to be taken with a grain of seriousness like Shadow, and that it will probably be based on some variation of the SA2 story, gives me hope that the writers can't just toss together a bunch of run-of-the-mill oneliners and a few action bits but actually do something resembling telling a compelling story. Then maybe I can retroactively choose to view the first two films as that early part of the series before it got going, but which were at least in the end building up to something worthwhile. Like one of those anime series that has like 25 episodes of mostly seemingly directionless sillyness at the start of the series but then once the main villain is introduced it gets good and you're kinda glad that you watched the boring early parts as they at the very least functioned as build-up.

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5 minutes ago, batson said:

If you mean what it would take to make me like future installments, I'm really only asking for anything above the absolute bare minimum. I don't think the two movies so far are awful, but I don't think they reach the level or mediocrity either. They're not awful but they're still still kinda bad. There are tons of good childrens movies but for some reason that specific "cartoon character in the real world" sub-genre is one where anything even remotely above bottom-of-the-barrel is considered all that it takes. I disagree with that notion. Think of all the good fully animated children's movies being produced in Hollywood. Why can't we have a Sonic movie more on that level of quality in terms of writing? Like, I'm not even talking Disney or Pixar level. Even Hotel Transylvania level is above the Sonic movies (well, at least the first Hotel Tranylvania, maybe not the sequels...).

But I'm holding out hope for the third movie though, that much I can say. The mere fact that it's going to feature a character that begs to be taken with a grain of seriousness like Shadow, and that it will probably be based on some variation of the SA2 story, gives me hope that the writers can't just toss together a bunch of run-of-the-mill oneliners and a few action bits but actually do something resembling telling a compelling story. Then maybe I can retroactively choose to view the first two films as that early part of the series before it got going, but which were at least in the end building up to something worthwhile. Like one of those anime series that has like 25 episodes of mostly seemingly directionless sillyness at the start of the series but then once the main villain is introduced it gets good and you're kinda glad that you watched the boring early parts as they at the very least functioned as build-up.

Ok, Batson. While I may disagree with you on the quality of the movies, I agree that StH 3 may posibbly be the best of the three, hopefully.

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7 hours ago, batson said:

 

The Sonic movies are pretty much crap just like all those other movies I just mentioned (except Casper, which has qualities that go way above what it needed to have) but I foresee a good consequence of their success; namely that we will finally enter that era that we've been talking about for decades; the era of video game movies.

And this is why I see these films as a net negative. After seeing what hollywood did to comic books I'm wary of video games becoming the next thing to go into the fire. A lot of video game narratives and concepts work specifically because they're in video games. The best stories in the medium are the ones that leverage mechanics and interactivity to illicit certain emotions. Without that additional wrinkle, a lot of them either lack substence or are just aping popular movies and television anyway. Grand Theft Auto openly cribs a lot from old school crime cinema with the excuse being that interactivity adds a different, valid angle to it, but then what are you doing if you take that interactivity away? Same goes for franchises like The Last of Us and Metal Gear Solid. On the other end of it you have franchises that are driven by mechanics to start with and thus don't have tightly woven narratives. How do you expand on it in an interesting way without losing the core feeling of the original work? It's something I've seen great writers struggle with so I don't take the task lightly. Firing off a million of these things in the same way we did comic adaptations would just lead to a lot of really bad fucking movies.

Sonic particularly has always struggled with this, with a simple premise and understated character writing clashing with dialogue/lore driven mediums. There's always a temptation to fill all the gaps that exist in the Sonic narrative, and I understand it to an extent, but go to far and you risk changing why the series was appealing to begin with.

The movies...definitely did that for me, but to try and not be wraith for a second and give them some credit, I think they touch on what makes Sonic fun to most people. He's a cool looking character that's always doing stunts. That's always meant more than the nuances of his personality, so the fact that I personally can't stand the way he speaks and acts now is small potatoes compared to getting those fundamentals right.

I think this is true of Knuckles and Eggman too. The very core essentials are there and the designs are actually pretty slick in both of their cases. I think they dropped the ball hard with Tails but others seem to disagree so whatever.

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1 hour ago, Wraith said:

 I think they dropped the ball hard with Tails but others seem to disagree so whatever.

That's interesting. Can I ask why you think so? Cause I'm genuinly curious.

Personally I think they did Tails much more justice than Sonic in terms of personality. Granted that probably has something to do with the fact that Tails had so little personality to begin with that it's more difficult to screw him up, but still. Tails in the movie basically still felt like the video game version to me, except a bit more, I dunno, upbeat? Game Tails has usually been a bit more mellow, although even then that has less been the case during the Pontaff era where he's been slightly more of a dude-bro. Anyway my point is that it think the movie version and typical game version were similar enough. Knuckles was fine too, spending most of the movie being Sonic Adventure Knux and then transforming into modern dumbass Knux after the climax. Eggman is siller than he's ever been before (not even AoStH Robotnik was this wacky) but it's Jim Carrey so I'll forgive it, and Carrey's version definitely has game Eggman's megalomania down perfectly.

To me it's really Sonic himself that feels completely off. It's like they took game Sonic and gutted him and stuffed a random gen z hipster into his corpse.

 

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1. First movie was just a light-hearted story for everyone, with a very little connection to the games. We have Sonic, we have Eggman, we have rings - and everything else was just a good and well-paced story with the classical tropes like fish out of the water or a road movie. After the CGI makeover everything just works fine.

2. The first movie came to the cinemas in a not-so-occupied month and a days before the COVID outbreak and lockdowns in the most of the world. 

3. Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey. People just love that and have a lot of nostalgia to his 90s movies.

4. After Sonic 2 I'm pretty sure that these movies were made by a people obviously loving the source material. There's a lot of references to the games, but they don't affect the story and are more like subtle winking to the fans. 

5. Idris Elba as a Knuckles was just a perfect shot for the viral marketing. And he was also great in the movie itself, with a lot of funny and well-written moments

6. Screenwriters just knows that the story will work only with the good chemistry between the characters. In the first movie we have a really good buddy relationship between Sonic and officer Wachowsky. In the second one it is even better, because both Tails and Knuckles have a great dynamic with Sonic and the big finale (and the baseball scene too) is a great payoff to this relationships.

7. Speaking of, in my opinion, Sonic 2 is the first video game movie that got the right feeling of fighting with the final boss.

8. Last but not least, Sonic - they've changed completely his character from the games and thanks God for this. He's more likeable with previously mentioned fish out of the water trope, most of his jokes or cultural references lands well and he's just a guy searching for his place in this world instead of being overconfident douchebag from the games or TV shows. And he even learned something, so I think he resonates better with the audience.

 

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26 minutes ago, Raya said:

1. First movie was just a light-hearted story for everyone, with a very little connection to the games. We have Sonic, we have Eggman, we have rings - and everything else was just a good and well-paced story with the classical tropes like fish out of the water or a road movie. After the CGI makeover everything just works fine.

2. The first movie came to the cinemas in a not-so-occupied month and a days before the COVID outbreak and lockdowns in the most of the world. 

3. Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey. People just love that and have a lot of nostalgia to his 90s movies.

4. After Sonic 2 I'm pretty sure that these movies were made by a people obviously loving the source material. There's a lot of references to the games, but they don't affect the story and are more like subtle winking to the fans. 

5. Idris Elba as a Knuckles was just a perfect shot for the viral marketing. And he was also great in the movie itself, with a lot of funny and well-written moments

6. Screenwriters just knows that the story will work only with the good chemistry between the characters. In the first movie we have a really good buddy relationship between Sonic and officer Wachowsky. In the second one it is even better, because both Tails and Knuckles have a great dynamic with Sonic and the big finale (and the baseball scene too) is a great payoff to this relationships.

7. Speaking of, in my opinion, Sonic 2 is the first video game movie that got the right feeling of fighting with the final boss.

 

I agree with all of this, especially the character dynamics.  I think that what the Sonic movies have gotten right is providing good dynamics between the characters, whether it be between Tom and Sonic or Sonic, Tails and Knuckles.

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Its kind of a "lightning in a bottle" scenario where everything just came together. Nobody would give these movies the time of day had they went with the original design. You would have gotten some ironic memes from it, but people would have forgotten about it and moved on.

But at its core, it taps into Sonic's target demographic of children; the fanbase can bitch and moan all they want about it, but the movies have the benefit of distancing itself from thirty years of fandom expectations and developer burnout by just being its own thing. It has life lessons that kids can resonate with, and any adult who probably grew out of Sonic will probably have fond memories of taking their children to see them.  Its the same type of success the MCU enjoys; while there are elements from the source material, its more or less just doing its own thing at the end of the day and has carved out its own niche as a result. 

 

Its obviously going to create yet another schism in the Sonic fandom, but what doesn't do that at this point. If people like the movies, they're going to see them and enjoy them, and the bunch of 30-40 year olds online complaining about it just kind of have to hold it. 

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I hate how Hollwood thinks that every main character needs to be a more or less normal person in terms of personality and thus "relatable". Every time they adapt a story from another medium that happens to have a main character that doesn't fit with the Hollwood mainstream of what a main character should be like they change him. Just think of what they did with Goku in Dragon Ball Evolution. Goku in the original source material is a fantastic character, which is why he is so beloved by millions, but there is nothing normal, average or relatable about him. He's an eccentric with values and emotions that almost nobody outside of an obsessive-compulsive martial arts fanatic can truly relate to. But we love him for it, because he faschinates us. He's someone so different from us that we can't help but be interested in him. But in the live action movie they turned him into a generic average Joe with generic avegare Joe concerns about fitting in and finding love and boring crap like that. I don't wanna see that in main character in an adventure story, that's the kind of boring crap my own boring life is about. Goku in the manga was much more fitted for a larger-than-lafe adventure story because he was a larger than life personality, someone so destined by his own personality to be a fighter and hero that it would be impossible to see him experincing the wants and needs that nobody's like the rest of us does. He was way beyond the need of wanting acceptance and romance.

And I feel the same way about movie Sonic. He's just a relatable insecure kid who jokes around a lot and likes to show of. He no longer has the mind of steel and lack of fear that made the video game version an ideal adventurer. Instead of being a faschinating ideal he's more of someone for the 13 year old's in the audience to look at and be like "yeah I be kinda like that too". And to me that's boring.

This is one reason why I like the Gal Gadot Wonder Woman movies. That version of the character is, especially in the first movie, so emphatically NOT a normal person that she can't even comprehend the idea of gray morality. Coming from the world of myth, where heroes are good and villians are evil, she assumes that World War 1 has to have been caused by someone evil, and that stopping that evil individual will stop the war. She's basically an ideal legendary hero placed into our messy reality. And I love her for it. Main characters, at least in fantasy adventure stories, don't need to be relatable to me; it's much more fun if they're faschinating people that makes us forget about mundane everyday existance.

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It's not really Hollywood's fault, it's just the way our culture has evolved.  Audience members prefer characters they can relate to than ones that feel too outlandish and alien for them to ever understand. Sure, longtime fans might be able to prefer larger than life characters like that, but that doesn't necessarily reflect the current environment. Its just...how society works. 

Sure, I like Sonic just fine as he is...but I'm also speaking as someone who has been following this series for twenty years of his life. If you weren't already a fan of Sonic, just someone who had no prior engagement with the franchise whatsoever, there's not much connecting Sonic to the audience besides just being a guy who runs fast and is cocky. 

Which may have been fine years ago, but not much nowadays with protagonists with much more detailed stories and backgrounds. It makes Sonic stand out and not in a good way. 

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55 minutes ago, batson said:

And I feel the same way about movie Sonic. He's just a relatable insecure kid who jokes around a lot and likes to show of. He no longer has the mind of steel and lack of fear that made the video game version an ideal adventurer. Instead of being a faschinating ideal he's more of someone for the 13 year old's in the audience to look at and be like "yeah I be kinda like that too". And to me that's boring.

This is one reason why I like the Gal Gadot Wonder Woman movies. That version of the character is, especially in the first movie, so emphatically NOT a normal person that she can't even comprehend the idea of gray morality. Coming from the world of myth, where heroes are good and villians are evil, she assumes that World War 1 has to have been caused by someone evil, and that stopping that evil individual will stop the war. She's basically an ideal legendary hero placed into our messy reality. And I love her for it. Main characters, at least in fantasy adventure stories, don't need to be relatable to me; it's much more fun if they're faschinating people that makes us forget about mundane everyday existance.

I honestly like the fact that Sonic is a relatable character.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I love his characterization in the games and I hope that the movies do eventually develop Sonic into the characterization he has in the games.  But, what I loved about the Sonic movies so far is that they show Sonic trying to get out of his insecurities and develop into the hero we know and love.  The thing about movies is that the audience wants to connect with the characters on a personal level and if Sonic was just a cocky yet confident character with no layers to his character or has no challenges to his beliefs, then he wouldn't be that interesting to the audience and most people wouldn't be that invested in the movies because of that.  As @Kuzu has stated, our culture is changing and nowadays, more people want to watch movies that have relatable and well-developed characters, which is part of the reason why the MCU has been succeeding over the years.

And in regards to Wonder Woman, I feel that Diana is still a relatable character to an extent because she's the "fish out of water" as she tries to understand Earth's cultures, just like how anyone would feel if they go to a foreign country and they are trying to understand the language and the culture of that country.  Also, her views about how wars can easily be won if you take out the main problem also resonates with some viewers because some viewers do view wars that way too and are shocked when they realize that war is a lot more complicated than taking down one evil individual responsible for starting up the war.

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