The reveal of Sonic the Hedgehog 3s antagonist in Sonic the Hedgehog 2s mid credits scene introduces the perfect villain to round off Sonics trilogy arc. Sonic 2 introduces more characters from the original video games to the film franchise. As well as Tails who was teased in the first film Sonic the Hedgehog 2 also introduces Knuckles the warrior echidna voiced by Idris Elba. Joining those two in the films final moments is another video game character who first appeared in 2001s Sonic Adventure 2.Shadow the Hedgehog is the antithesis of Sonic released from a G.U.N laboratory by Robotnik to aid him in yet another plot to take over the world. Its a G.U.N laboratory in which Sonic 2 finds the character the result of the so called Shadow Project. Jim Carreys retirement announcement casts doubt on whether hell be employing Shadows services in the upcoming sequel but regardless of this Shadow will be the perfect antagonist to bring Sonics character arc to an end.
The Sonic movies have been notable for how theyve reinterpreted the character of Sonic as a lost and lonely orphan adopted by loving human parents. This blended family of human dog and anthropomorphized hedgehog gets bigger in Sonic 2 with the addition of Tails and Knuckles. Like Sonic in the films Shadow the Hedgehog in the games is also lost. The result of genetic experimentation by Dr. Robotniks grandfather Shadow is portrayed as a tortured and angry anti hero determined to avenge the death of his friend and discover more about his past. While its highly unlikely that Sonic the Hedgehog 3 will become a kid friendly Bourne Identity the trajectory of Sonics character arc makes Shadow an ideal villain for this third film.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is all about how the titular hedgehog is still a kid who has a lot to learn about heroism and responsibility. When Tom and Maddie go on holiday to Hawaii Sonic is left to his own devices and riffs on the likes of Ferris Buellers Day Off and Home Alone as he relishes his independence. However Sonics idea of having the house to himself is indicative of a childs idea of freedom junk food loud music and turning the living room into a giant bubble bath. When his nemesis returns he must put childish things aside to stop Robotnik from obtaining the Master Emerald. By the end of the film Sonic concedes that he still has some growing up to do and goes back to playing baseball and eating ice cream with his friends and family. If Sonic 2 is a metaphor for the clash between wanting more responsibility and still enjoying childhood then Sonic the Hedgehog 3 looks to be focused on puberty and rebellion.
In meeting a character like Shadow a cooler colder anti hero Sonic could be presented with an aspirational figure that Tom and Maddie dont approve of. Shadow is what Sonic could have become angry and vengeful at the death of Longclaw. In Sonic 2 Blue Justice Sonics superhero alter ego parodies Batman so Shadow would certainly appeal to a young impressionable hedgehog. It would also fit with screenwriter Josh Millers interpretation of the characters as an adoptive family. As Sonic continues to come of age he could find himself rejecting his new friends and his family by falling in with the wrong crowd via Shadow. Such a plot in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 would build on Knuckles interpretation of Sonic as a kindred spirit whos chosen humor and levity over rage and revenge. Of course Sonic would see that Shadow is not someone to aspire to and would eventually reject his anti heroic ways thus completing his heros journey.