Pixar's 'Lightyear' Premise Is Confusing Everyone

Is Buzz Lightyear a real guy, or not?
Pixar's 'Lightyear' Premise Is Confusing Everyone

Good news for those of us who require elaborate, tragic backstories for our plastic childhood playthings: the new trailer for Pixar’s Lightyear just dropped. And it sure looks funny, exciting, and … completely bewildering.

What is this movie, exactly? No one seems to totally know for sure, and Disney’s marketing has been shockingly vague. Their official synopsis claims that it’s the “definitive origin story of … the hero who inspired the toy.” And star Chris Evans’ attempts to make things more “clear” last December did just the opposite; he stated that the film is “the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on.” What?

This seemingly indicated that, in the world of Toy Story, there was a real astronaut named Buzz Lightyear, whose genuine space heroics led to the creation of an oversized action figure. A lot of fans seemed to take Evans’ comments as evidence that his Buzz was an actual person within the Pixarverse.

But this retroactively makes all of those movies way weirder. Like, why would Andy and his mom be so concerned about the whereabouts of an antique cowboy doll when the threat of literal intergalactic warfare was looming over their heads at all times? Also, the plot of Lightyear involves Buzz disappearing for more than half a century – so if that really happened, turning him into a toy line would be a little like manufacturing Barbie doll versions of the Challenger shuttle crew. That is unless the first part of Lightyear somehow takes place in a weirdly futuristic 1930s …

Then again, it could be that the “human” Buzz is just an actor in the live-action movie that led to the toy, which according to director Angus MacLane, was pretty much his pitch, describing Lightyear as “the movie that Andy saw that made him want a Buzz Lightyear.” But even that seems oddly confounding. For one thing, it was previously established that Buzz was based on a cartoon series. They even made a straight-to-video movie that was specifically Buzz’s in-universe source material: Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.

Sure, the cartoon could have been inspired by the live-action movie, but that also means that the diverse cast of the Lightyear film was, in the world of Toy Story, whitewashed for the animated series by the Walt Disney Company, whose logo appears on the VHS tape Woody finds. And … yeah, actually, that checks out. 

It’s genuinely baffling why Disney isn’t being more upfront about the nature of this movie, which comes out in less than two months. Either they’re worried admitting that Lightyear is essentially a movie-within-a-movie will diminish its appeal – or they don’t want to admit that this is all an act of canonical gymnastics purely in order to recast the part of Buzz with one of the biggest movie stars in the world instead of the former lead of Jungle 2 Jungle.

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Top Image: Disney


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