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How They Pulled Off All Those Cameos In The Rescue Rangers Movie

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Disney’s Rescue Rangers movie has only been on Disney+ for twelve hours (as of this writing) and yet the spoilers are all over the Net. If you’ve been on social media at any point between then and now, you’ve likely already run into one….but unlike certain other “Brand X” websites, we won’t deliberately ruin your movie experience. This is a handy warning that prevents you from accidentally seeing the rest of the article, which DOES go into spoilers. Trust us, you’ll want to go into this as innocent as possible. Come back when you’re done!

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Only those who have seen it are left, right? Good…let’s continue. As the trailers implied, the Rescue Rangers movie does indeed appear to take place in the same world the Roger Rabbit movie did, but in present day instead of the 1940s. For director Akiva Schaffer, this meant once again covering the ENTIRE toon world, not just the Disney side, and calling up other studios to see what they could get.

In an interview with Polygon, Schaffer said “It was super-important to me to get a bunch of third-party cartoons, because if this is going to be some sort of a celebration of animation, it can’t just be a celebration of Disney animation. You don’t want it to feel like an ad for Disney Plus.”

In one scene, Seth Rogen’s “bad CG dwarf” character is confronted by the version of Pumbaa from the “realistic” Lion King remake, Mantis from Kung Fu Panda and B.O.B. from Monsters Vs. Aliens — the joke being that all four are voiced by Rogen. This also meant that Dreamworks characters somehow had to appear in a Disney film, which has never happened before.

“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 confessed. “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.”

The one cameo everyone is talking about is “Ugly Sonic,” the rejected half-human hedgehog that appeared in early trailers and repelled people so much his design had to be worked over from scratch. (It’s probably the one you had spoiled before you saw the film.) And tantalizingly, it’s the one cameo Schaffer refuses to reveal what went into. “It’s one of my favorite things in the movie. And I’m very excited for people to see it … I don’t know what I should, what I’m allowed to say [about it]. I think I will actually plead the fifth,” Schaffer said in the interview.

The fact that Sega is not mentioned in the credits has led some to speculate if this could be one of those “parody use” cases, like the “ET Vs Batman” scene. But Schaffer’s shady comment implies it was more legally complicated than that. Paramount, who currently holds the movie rights to Sonic, is not credited either, and neither are a bunch of other Paramount-owned characters who make brief appearances.

For now, Ugly Sonic is quite the mystery — the kind Chip and Dale would investigate themselves. The Rescue Rangers movie is streamable now on Disney+.