The lead-up to Sega and Paramount Pictures’ 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog film was a massively controversial one due to the original design of the eponymous mascot, which was ridiculed and mocked by fans worldwide for terrible choices that ranged from anthropomorphic legs to a mouth with human teeth. Nobody would have imagined that this version of Sonic would ever surface again, particularly after the heavily praised and much more faithful redesign that was ultimately used for the hugely successful film and its 2022 sequel, but surprisingly, “Ugly Sonic” has returned as part of a surprise cameo in Disney’s new Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers movie. Ugly Sonic can be seen in an early portion of the film that takes place during a fan convention, interacting with chipmunk protagonist Dale (who’s no longer 2D thanks to CG surgery) and other attendees, something that was made possible thanks to Disney’s lawyers, according to an interview with director Akiva Schaffer. The character is voiced by I Think You Should Leave star Tim Robinson.
Just as with Who Framed Roger Rabbit or the cross-company video game character cameos from Wreck-It Ralph, the movie presented a copyright challenge. “The [characters] you see in the movie — sometimes we had to try two or three other things before we found one that could be licensed,” Schaffer says. “It was a process. […] You don’t usually come out of a movie and want to thank the lawyers, but we genuinely owe the Disney lawyers for being team players. [They] super stayed optimistic about it, and really saw the value of the third-party stuff, and they had to really work hard. … It’s easy for me to go, like, Oh, it would be cool if My Little Pony was in the movie, and they’re like, running in the hallways […] but then [the lawyers] have to go call Mattel and pitch them the movie, and tell them it’s not making fun of [the characters], and then I have to get on, and then blah, blah, blah. So it was a process. But you know, it makes [the movie] so much better.”