Knuckles stops Sonic

Idris Elba’s Portrayal of Knuckles Was One of My (Many) Favorite Parts of ‘Sonic 2’

"Unlike Sonic I don't chuckle."
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Slight spoilers for Sonic 2

One of the things I mention in my review of Sonic 2 is enjoying the fact that Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Robotnik feel like the main characters, leading to more exploration of lore that’s often present in the games, and higher, world-saving stakes. While Tails and Knuckles are newcomers to the movie series, Sonic fans already know that Tails’ voice actress, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, kills it as the two-tailed fox. With Ben Schwartz (Sonic) and Jim Carrey (Robotnik) already offering charming performances in the first movie, it was Idris Elba I found myself most curious about when it came to the sequel.

There was a lot of excitement about Elba becoming the red echidna (and humor about Elba’s sexy voice), but going into the movie I had two questions. How would Elba do in his portrayal of Knuckles, and what kind of Knuckles were we getting, as his characteristics can range from “stoic, duty-bound loner with a code of honor” to “himbo.” Not only did Elba do a fantastic job, but he ended up making Knuckles one of the biggest highlights of the film.

Knuckles is an absolute beast

In my review of Sonic 2 I said the following:

This movie brings me back to the days of being excited about my step-brother actually letting me play his Sega Genesis. To me, playing the Sonic the Hedgehog games felt like the most epic thing I could do as an eight-year-old who had to come in the house before the streetlights came on. There are moments in the film that felt exactly how I pictured them as a kid. Sonic VS Knuckles on the Genesis was a series of jump attacks, but in my head, it was a heated battle that had been built up over the course of several video game levels.

This movie captures that feeling.

Knuckles, in this movie, is a real threat against Sonic and Tails. Robotnik is too, of course, but Knuckles is a character who’s dangerous because of his own abilities. He’s a lot stronger than Sonic and can keep up with his pace. There are scenes where Sonic and Tails think they’re in the clear, but Knuckles comes charging in like a Terminator and the heroes have to scramble to figure out what to do to escape him.

Elba captures that “I’ve been trained from birth” vibe perfectly. This is someone who Sonic has to actually FIGHT compared to running fast and destroying numerous robots. The battles against Robot are thrilling, but going up against Knuckles? PHEW!

Bringing in Knuckles makes things a lot more serious, especially since his introduction brings in the Master Emerald and other major elements of Sonic lore.

This next part is a bit of a spoiler, not because of any major plot elements, but because of how Knuckles is portrayed in the movie. Still here? Cool, let’s do it to it!

Knuckles is the most hilarious character of the bunch

None of the trailers illustrate the fact that Knuckles is absolutely hilarious, and for good reason. It’s a nice surprise after seeing how dedicated he is to completing his quest. He’s not cracking jokes the way Sonic is, no, his humor comes from the fact that he takes EVERYTHING seriously. If you’re familiar with characters like Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy, then you’ll be familiar with the kind of fish-out-of-water character who takes everything a bit too literally.

This is kinda how Knuckles acts in the Sonic Boom cartoon where he, at one point, thought that Sonic’s middle name was “the” because he’s Sonic THE Hedgehog. However, he sounds a lot more lighthearted in that series than he does in this movie. Elba’s take on the echidna gives us a strong, proud warrior, and that personality makes for some of the film’s funniest moments. Knuckles will say something ridiculous in that Idris Elba tone of voice, but be completely straight-faced about it because he has no idea that what he’s saying is ridiculous.

This is a great contrast to Sonic’s pop culture references and one-liners. It’s also a fun way to illustrate the differences between the two characters. Honestly, Knuckles was the character who had my theater laughing the most. Just don’t tell him that, okay?

(Image: Paramount Pictures)

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Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)