Working with Pixar is a dream come true. I’ve been a massive fan of their films since the very beginning. My team could barely contain their excitement when they told me that Pixar had a pitch for me. All they said was ‘Buzz Lightyear’. I didn’t know what that meant, since Tim Allen is Buzz Lightyear, and no one could ever touch his performance. I needed to know how this character was different and why this story was worth telling. I can say 2 things with absolute confidence:
1.. I didn’t stop smiling through the ENTIRE pitch. Ear to ear.
2. Everyone can rest easy. And get very excited.
Trust me when I say that they REALLY know what they’re doing over there. This one is gonna special, and it doesn’t step on a single thing. I can’t even put my excitement into words. I smile every time I think about it. #LIGHTYEAR
"Be silent and listen: have you recognized your madness and do you admit it? - C.G. Jung"
Pixar is actually making the Buzz Lightyear sci-fi epic
Lightyear will imagine the story before the toys By Matt Patches and Austen Goslin Dec 10, 2020, 8:25pm EST
In the world of the Toy Story films, the Buzz Lightyear toy was based on a giant space-set franchise. But we never really saw that world (unless you were a diehard viewer of the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command cartoon).
That changes soon, as Pixar is officially reverse-engineering a giant sci-fi action movie based the character. Peter Docter revealed plans for the movie at the 2020 Disney Investor Day — along with a deluge of other movie and TV news. To make things even better, Star Command’s best Space Ranger will be voiced by Captain America himself, Chris Evans. (Sorry, Tim Allen.)
The film will take viewers to where the original Buzz Lightyear’s story first began. According to a tweet from Pixar, the film will pick up with Buzz just starting out as a young test pilot, long before his days as a Space Ranger, and the inspiration for walking talking action figures. Lightyear will be the first time that Pixar has ever made a Toy Story spinoff as a full movie, despite numerous shows and series taking place in the universe already.
Lightyear is set to hit theaters on June 17, 2022.
I love Pixar, so I’m really excited about this. But I think I’m more excited for Chris because I know this has been his dream for a long time. I’m really excited for what this could mean for his career going forward.
Chris Evans goes to infinity and beyond in Pixar's first Lightyear teaser trailer
Director Angus MacLane walks EW through the footage and teases the possible arrival of Emperor Zurg. Nick Romano
By Nick Romano October 27, 2021 at 08:55 AM EDT
Nick Romano October 27, 2021 at 08:55 AM EDT
Chris Evans is portraying Buzz Lightyear in a new Pixar movie called Lightyear. He's not playing the Buzz we know from Toy Story, but "the original Buzz Lightyear." That alone brings up a lot of questions. Fortunately, the film's teaser trailer and director, Angus MacLane, are here to shed more light on just how this is all coming together.
"'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 co-directed Finding Dory and multiple Toy Story shorts for Pixar, tells EW 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."
Based on what we know from the Toy Story films, Buzz, as voiced by Tim Allen, is a toy based on the Buzz of a popular sci-fi franchise, a character who's captain of the Universe Protection Unit of the Space Ranger corps from the Intergalactic Alliance. In December of last year, when the movie was first announced with Evans aboard in the starring voice role, Pixar revealed Lightyear to be the origin story for that 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 expounds. "If you were going to make that world real, you can't have it constantly feeling like it's this derivative thing."
The commonality he found through all the films is that "Buzz has a disagreement over the nature of reality." In the first Toy Story, Buzz believes himself to be a space ranger, while Woody (Tom Hanks) knows he's a toy. MacLane had previously directed the 2011 short Toy Story Toons: Small Fry, which introduced a miniature Buzz "that had the same kind of affliction," he says. "So, for us, the core idea that we wanted to build upon was, how do you have a character out of step with the world around them?"
There are other "surface things" that will connect Evans' Buzz to Allen's Buzz, like the iconic Buzz Lightyear space suit that appears in the trailer and the character's famous catchphrase. Evans is about to finish the "To infinity and beyond" line before the Lightyear trailer cuts him off. It's a move Disney likely borrowed from the Avengers movies, which routinely cut off Evan's Captain America from officially saying "Avengers, assemble!" until Endgame.
A version of Emperor Zurg, Buzz's infamous nemesis in Toy Story, likely plays a part in Lightyear, as well, though MacLane can't say much. "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," the filmmaker teases. "But of course, I'm not at liberty to say anything about anything at this time."
Beyond that, Lightyear, at its core, is meant to be an epic sci-fi movie. The trailer opens with a scene of Buzz locking into a rocket, powered by a mysterious crystallized energy source that allows him to shoot around the sun without getting burned. "Will it play a larger role in the film? Yes it will," MacLane says of that scene.
MacLane says he hopes to give audiences the kind of sci-fi movie he grew up watching from 1977-91, but with "more modern sensibilities."
Star Wars is a name that comes up in the conversation. A scene from the trailer shows Buzz and a droid hiding behind a collapsed tree trunk on an unidentified misty planet, one that gives off major Dagobah vibes from The Empire Strikes Back.
"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."
For MacLane, Lightyear is "a distillation of things" he feels are cool. "The edict is, just make it awesome," he adds. "I feel like we've lost a sense of joy, unfortunately, in a lot of larger films. So, I try to instill that again."
"The phrase 'a dream come true' gets thrown around a lot, but I've never meant it more in my life," Evans said in his own statement. "Anyone who knows me knows that my love for animated films runs deep. I can't believe that I get to be a part of the Pixar family and work with these truly brilliant artists who tell stories unlike anyone else. Watching them work is nothing short of magic. I pinch myself every day."
"Good Morning America" exclusively debuted the official trailer for the action-adventure film, which Pixar describes as "the definitive story of the original Buzz Lightyear," on Wednesday.
Chris Evans is voicing the iconic hero in the Angus MacLane-directed project, which arrives in theaters on June 17, 2022.
Although details on the film's plot are still under wraps, MacLane, a longtime Pixar employee who co-directed "Finding Dory" and has worked on several of the studio's most notable films, did open up about the tone of Buzz's story, revealing it will be both serious and funny, "but not goofy," during an interview with "GMA."
"Say 'The Incredibles,' where it is humorous but you're never feeling like the characters are mocking their concern for their own safety -- it is a world of stakes and peril and death," MacLane explained. "And so this is a film where we find out about Buzz Lightyear and the origins of the Space Rangers and all of the fun things about that, but it's meant to be this movie, in the best sense of the word. It's a film that celebrates that feeling you would get watching the sci-fi movies of the late '70s and early '80s."
"That's really the goal of it is making a fun ride that is emotionally satisfying, but also fun to watch and to rewatch," he added.
Pixar’s Pete Docter also previously shared what fans should not expect, while announcing the title at Disney's Investor Day last year.
"At first glance, you might think, 'This is a 'Toy Story' film.' Well, not so fast," he said. "See, back when we created the very first 'Toy Story,' we designed Buzz Lightyear with the idea that he was a toy based on some really cool character from an epic, blockbuster film. Well, all these years later we decided it’s time to make that film."
MacLane said that in order to shape the film, they did a thorough "examination of what makes Buzz, Buzz."
"For me, the unifying element was that Buzz is a character who is constantly out of step with his environment," he said. "Oftentimes there's a disagreement over the nature of reality."
"In 'Toy Story,' for example, he's convinced he's a Space Ranger when Woody's telling him he's a toy; you have to come to grips with that," the director continued. "In the second movie, it's kind of rebooted with another Buzz Lightyear that has to learn the same thing and that character has a disagreement over the nature of reality. The third film, it's the Spanish Buzz mode. The fourth film is the internal monologue character, so it's always finding a way to separate the character from their surroundings."
"I think there's a universality to how -- for as connected as we are as people -- how disconnected we can become in society, and that's something I really wanted to explore," he added. MORE: Everything you need to know about Disney and Pixar’s history-making film, 'Soul'
MacLane also described why he believes Evans was the perfect choice to voice Buzz Lightyear.
"[Buzz] says really, really goofy things really, really seriously and takes the job very seriously, and so for me, there were very few actors that could pull off an earnestness and also the comedy of that," he said.
"He's been a tremendous creative partner throughout the whole process and has totally gotten it and elevated the material in every way," the director added about Evans. MacLane said he knows the trailer leaves many questions unanswered, and he's looking forward to seeing the fan theories that arise following its release.
"I will say, honestly, it's like 5% of the scale of the film," he said of the trailer. "It really is, in every sense of the word, a teaser. Chris says one word, it's really very minimal."
"But I hope that they get the sense of scale and confidence and comedy, the combination of flavors and tone that we're going for in the trailer," he added. "They get a gesture of what the film is going to be."