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Sonic 2: why is Knuckles the villain in the family movie?

Knuckles is a beloved videogame character, so why is he the villain in Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Here we explain in detail why Knuckles is a baddie in the sequel

Sonic 2: why is Knuckles the villain in Paramount's sequel

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the colourful sequel to the 2020 box office hit, Sonic the Hedgehog – and sees some old and new faces join the videogame movie franchise. One of the fresh casting additions in the family movie is the beloved videogame character Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba), a big fisted red echidna that, surprisingly, turns out to be a new and very intimidating villain in the sequel.

In SEGA’s videogame series, on which Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is based, we first met Knuckles in 1994, during the platformer Sonic the Hedgehog 3. In the game, Knuckles is similarly a villain who works with Dr Robotnik and fights against our favourite fast-footed hero, Sonic. Much like his introduction in the games, Knuckles in Paramount’s latest action movie teams up with Sonic’s long time nemesis, Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey), and in short, seems all too happy to punch the titular blue hedgehog whenever he gets the chance.

But, before we all start pointing fingers and recommending anger management classes to the anthropomorphic character, Knuckles is actually one of the most motivated villains we have ever seen in a family movie. When you stop to consider Knuckles’ backstory and his general personality – his baddie team up with the bald-headed evil genius Dr Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 makes a lot of sense.

There are many reasons why Knuckles isn’t exactly fond of Sonic when he first meets our blue hero. The first is his tragic backstory, which is directly tied to Sonic’s own childhood. In the kids movie, we learn that the Echidna tribe and a group of winged Guardians – the people who raised Sonic before his time on earth – have been at war with each other for centuries.

Both groups fought for control of an ultimate power source called the Master Emerald, which can lead to total destruction in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, this war led to the demise of Knuckles’ entire tribe and family. In a flashback scene in the 2022 movie, we see the character as a child, and witness the small echidna rushing to join his father and fellow soldiers in the final battle for the Master Emerald. However, being too young, he was forced to stay home.

Sonic 2 Knuckles: Sonic and Knuckles fighting

Forced to be the only survivor of his tribe, Knuckles is now determined to fulfil his fallen comrades’ mission and retrieve the Master Emerald, no matter what the cost. Since Sonic was given the map to the Master Emerald by his old mentor, Longclaw, he is understandably on the top of Knuckles’ ‘must defeat’ list’. You have to remember that Longclaw was also part of the group of Guardians who basically wiped out Knuckles’ tribe, so there is an extra reason for him wanting to smash Sonic into oblivion, too.

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With Sonic’s connection to the very people that played a part in everyone he knew and loved dying, Knuckles isn’t too keen on trusting Sonic, and therefore puts all of his faith into Robotnik’s hands. Throughout the film, we see Sonic try and reason with him, but to no avail. It isn’t until Knuckles sees Dr Robotnik betray him with his very own eyes that he believes Sonic’s good intentions.

At the end of the movie, Knuckles changes sides and effectively surrenders his villainous role. Instead, he teams up with Sonic for a final showdown against Robotnik. He is now officially a good guy, and even has an upcoming TV series in the works that will probably dive deeper into his backstory and new life purpose, now that the Master Emerald is in safe hands.

Sonic 2 Knuckles: Sonic and Knuckles fighting over the Master Emerald

There is no denying that Knuckles is a complex character and has set the bar high for any future villains that will be hitting the big screen once Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is released.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is out now in UK cinemas, and will race into US theatres on April 8. To watch the first Sonic movie, you can head over to the streaming service Netflix.