The Lightyear teaser trailer dropped Wednesday morning and it revealed elements familiar to Toy Story fans. Chris Evans is portraying Buzz Lightyear in the new Pixar film, but it’s not the Buzz we know from the Toy Story franchise. It’s the” original Buzz Lightyear” which brings up a lot of questions. Fortunately, Pixar’s Lightyear trailer and director, Angus MacLane, are here to clear up some things about how this all fits (or not fit) into the Toy Story universe.
Pixar’s Lightyear Explained
“‘Set in the world of Toy Story‘ is kind of weird. Another way to get at it, it’s a straightforward sci-fi action film about the Buzz Lightyear character,” MacLane, who was the co-director for Finding Dory and multiple Toy Story shorts for Pixar, tells Entertainment Weekly over Zoom. “In the Toy Story universe, it would be like a movie that maybe Andy would have seen, that would have made him want a Buzz Lightyear figure.”
“The movie doesn’t end and then you see Andy eating popcorn,” the filmmaker clarifies. “This is its own thing… This is standalone. It’s the Buzz Lightyear movie. It’s that character but as the space ranger, not as the toy.”
Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story films is a toy based on the Buzz from a popular sci-fi franchise. He’s a captain of the Universe Protection Unit of the Space Ranger corps from the Intergalactic Alliance. Last December, Pixar revealed Lightyear to be the origin story for that space ranger character, “The young test pilot that became the space ranger we all know him to be today.”
“When you hear about the Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story talk about his space ranger-ness or Star Command, it’s very much a one-note amalgam of sci-fi cliches, which is the point of that movie,” MacLane explains. “If you were going to make that world real, you can’t have it constantly feeling like it’s this derivative thing.”
The common thing he found in the Toy Story films is that “Buzz has a disagreement over the nature of reality.” In the first Toy Story, Buzz believes he is a true space ranger, while Woody (Tom Hanks) knows he’s just a toy.
What Will Be Similar to Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear?
There will be “surface things” that will connect Chris Evan’s Buzz to Tim Allen’s Buzz, like the iconic space suit that appears in the trailer and the character’s famous catchphrase. Just like when fans were anticipating Evan’s Captain America to say “Avengers, assemble!”, which didn’t happen until Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, in Pixar’s Lightyear trailer, Evens is cut off when he was about to complete the sentence, “to infinity and…” Just like he was cut off at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
A version of Zurg, Buzz’s arch nemesis from Toy Story, will likely play a part in Pixar’s Lightyear. “If the core elements of what Buzz is were to be paid off correctly, you would want to make sure that he had a laser, you’d probably want to make sure that he had rocket legs, and you’d probably want to make sure that at some point he had a recognizable antagonist,” MacLane teases. “But of course, I’m not at liberty to say anything about anything at this time.”
MacLane hopes to give fans the type of sci-fi film he grew up watching from 1977 to 1991. Star Wars is the name that comes up in the conversation. “I would say at Pixar, Star Wars was the common language when I started in ’97. That was the thing that we couldn’t get out of our minds,” MacLane explains. “The world was forever changed once we saw Star Wars. It’s pretty inextricable, that sensibility. I think that [parallel to Lightyear] isn’t necessarily intentional. I’m not really interested in repeating stuff or reminding audiences of better movies, but there are a lot of visual lessons from movies of that era.”
Pixar’s Lightyear with Chris Evans is set to hit our universe on June 17, 2022. Check out the Lightyear trailer below.