Sequel. Prequel. Reboot. Remake. Spinoff. Re-imagining.
When it comes to terms Hollywood uses to describe cinematic expansions on its most popular IP, we thought we’d heard them all.
Enter Lightyear, Pixar’s highly anticipated animated actioner featuring the character (not the toy!) popularized in its mega-popular Toy Story franchise and voiced by recent Avenger retiree Chris Evans.
“It’s a sidequel. It’s not a sequel, it’s a sidequel,” riffs Lightyear director Angus MacLane in a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment teasing the film’s brand new teaser trailer (watch above).
Allow MacLane, the 20-plus year Pixar vet who worked as an animator on nine of the studio’s films before co-directing 2016’s Finding Dory, to elaborate.
“It's a sci-fi adventure movie starring Buzz Lightyear, the character. And I assume that the toy [voiced by Tim Allen] is based on either the cartoon series that was made after the movie or a later movie… So the events that Buzz is talking about in Toy Story [Buzz’s ramblings about the edge of the galaxy, Emperor Zurg, Star Command, etc.] have not yet happened. So this would be the origin story of who we know Buzz Lightyear to be.”
As MacLane points out, Lightyear’s place in the larger cinematic universe should become a lot clearer once viewers feast their eyes on the trailer, a slick and stylish look at a brand new world to explore for Pixar, and captured with stunning photo-real animation that’s come a long way from the once-groundbreaking first computer-generated designs of 1995’s Toy Story.
“More than anything, it’s meant to be a celebration of the sci-fi pictures of our youth — or at least my youth, from 1977 [the year Star Wars was released] to ’89 or ’91,” MacLane says.
— Lee On Rum (@MumOnRum) October 27, 2021
While we get a good look at Buzz throughout the preview, in teaser-like fashion, it’s not until the closing seconds that we hear the voice of the famous actor who will be playing him. Evans, with the help of a fellow astronaut, nearly completes his famous catchphrase, "To infinity and beyond!"
MacLane was beyond thrilled to land the actor best known for playing Steve Rogers/Captain America in seven-plus films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“He was really the first choice and then we reached out and he wanted to meet,” MacLane recalls about enlisting Evans. “He drove up to [Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif.] and we spent a day pitching the movie and giving him a tour and giving him our vision for the film. And he was really excited about it and just totally got it right away… He was aligned to the sensibility of our team. We got him pretty early on in this process and it's been developing with him along the way. But yeah he really was our first and only choice. So I’m glad he said ‘Yes.’”
Lightyear is scheduled to open June 17, 2022.