'Sonic the Hedgehog' dashes back to theaters with Keanu Reeves in the cast. What to know about the upcoming film and spin-off TV series.

Two animated Sonic the Hedgehog characters.
Knuckles, from the Sonic franchise, will get his own spin-off TV series on Paramount+. (Courtesy Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)

The world’s most famous and fastest hedgehog, Sonic, is returning to the big screen in 2024. However, right now, he’s being overshadowed by another big name joining the franchise: Keanu Reeves.

The John Wick and Matrix star has reportedly joined the cast of the upcoming film Sonic the Hedgehog 3, voicing the character Shadow the Hedgehog. Footage of the trailer premiered at CinemaCon on April 11 during a Paramount presentation.

Shadow, as the name suggests, is a dark and edgy character seen by many as an antihero with similar powers to Sonic.

Realistic cartoon character's balled hands and sneaker-shod feet next to a movie-set clapboard.
Shadow the Hedgehog will make his debut in "Sonic the Hedgehog 3." (Courtesy of Paramount via X)

‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’: Who’s in it and what’s it about?

Sonic the Hedgehog was first introduced to the world in 1991 in his own 16-bit game for the Sega Genesis gaming console. (If you remember this era, don’t worry, you’re not alone.) Shadow was created for the video games 10 years later in Sonic Adventure 2.

He now makes his cinematic debut with Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Returning to the movie are director Jeff Fowler and live-action stars James Marsden as Tom Wachowski and Tika Sumpter, who plays his wife, Maddie.

The footage Paramount screened at CinemaCon showed a depressed and out-of-shape Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey (which is more on brand with the character’s look from the video games). He’s miserable due to the events of Sonic 2 but gets a boost of energy from creating Shadow the Hedgehog, who faces off against the titular character.

Sonic (Ben Schwartz), Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) and Knuckles (Idris Elba) also saw screen time during the clip as they teamed up against Shadow.

The film will head to theaters on Dec. 20 and then eventually be released to Paramount+ for streaming.

Sonic struck cinematic gold twice. Will it repeat a third time?

The franchise is one of Paramount’s most successful, with a combined global box office of around $725 million for Sonic the Hedgehog ($320 million globally) and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ($405 million globally). This is especially impressive in that video game-adapted movies don’t always perform well.

Reeves has had his own blockbusters as of late, most recently with John Wick: Chapter 4 in 2023.

In 2021, he returned to his iconic role of Neo for The Matrix: Resurrections. Two years prior, he made a streaming appearance with an epic cameo in the Netflix hit Always Be My Maybe.

Next up, he’ll return as John Wick in a spin-off of the series, Ballerina, starring Ana de Armas. He’ll also play a guardian angel in Good Fortune, an Aziz Ansari movie.

There’s another Sonic project in the works starring Knuckles

Fans who can’t get enough of the Sonic franchise and its characters won’t have to wait until December for its next iteration.

Knuckles, a six-episode television series, is heading to streaming service Paramount+ on April 26 and will feature the famous echidna. Elba will also voice the TV version of the character.

Knuckles has always been a breakout star from the Sonic games and now gets his first series.

Like the Sonic movies, the series will combine live-action and animation to bring the world of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise to the streaming service.

Because the two are connected, Knuckles will feature many of the actors from the film franchise, who will reprise their roles in the spin-off show.

Knuckles, who originated as an enemy of Sonic and Tails, will join forces with them after learning about Dr. Robotnik's true plans. In the series, Knuckles now lives with the same human family as Sonic and Tails, and he’ll embark on his own journey to remove a new threat.

Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) will join the cast as the voice of Pachacamac, an elderly echidna who is the former warlord leader of the echidna tribe.

Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi) and Ellie Taylor (Ted Lasso) will play human characters agents Mason and Willoughby, respectively.

Knuckles streams on Paramount+ April 26.