Watch: The team behind Lightyear explain the premise of the Toy Story spin-off
If you’re confused about what Pixar’s latest, simply titled Lightyear, is actually about – let me put your mind to rest.
Here’s how the animation studio’s own creative team like to pitch it: in 1995’s Toy Story, Andy has a birthday party. And, on that birthday, he receives a toy based on a character he loves, Buzz Lightyear the Space Ranger.
“I’ve always wondered what movie was Buzz from,” director-screenwriter Angus MacLane elaborates.
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“Why couldn’t we just make that movie? So that’s what we did.” Lightyear is 'the movie that Andy saw that changed his life… Andy’s Star Wars.'
Except, that’s not exactly the complete story. Buzz Lightyear the character, the bold and adventurous Space Ranger, has made appearances outside of the Toy Story films before – namely, in the 2000 direct-to-video film Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins and its spin-off TV series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.
Several versions of Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin also exist across the Disney theme parks. When posed the question of how Lightyear might connect to those other, extraneous chapters in Buzz’s story, MacLane told Yahoo: “I always thought of that as taking place after the film.
"Like, the in-universe thing is that it would be a post-Lightyear occurrence. So the design aesthetic is a bit different. In the same way that the design aesthetic from the Nelvana Star Wars cartoons, like Droids and Ewoks, was similar to Star Wars, but it had a different kind of flavour to it.”
Fans, then, won’t be able to spot any Easter eggs in Lightyear, though MacLane jokes: “I will say, I made the blasters big enough so that should they want to change the blasters on Astro Blasters, they could make them a little more movie accurate.”
In fact, Lightyear won’t quite be the nostalgia-fest that many assumed it would be, even if we’ve been promised a square-off between Buzz and his nemesis Zurg that rivals the one in Toy Story 2.
As the director explains: “We made a list of all the things that Buzz talks about in the Buzz Lightyear world from Toy Story. You know, the wings are made of terillium carbonic outlay, he mentions crystallic fusion. So there is crystallic fusion used in the film, but it's not like, "Remember? it's crystallic fusion just as he mentioned in Toy Story!’”
The film, instead, builds up its own world that MacLane was keen to keep “open-ended”.
He continues: “One of the values of the original Star Wars is that it felt like there was a world on all sides of that story.
"And, for this film, I very much wanted to have it like – Buzz went to the Academy, but it’s not about that. He’s a Space Ranger.
"And this is the adventure of what’s happening with him right now. But there’s an adventure after it, or before it, and it just leaves the world open and doesn’t close it down.”
Could that potentially mean further Lightyear films down the line? We’ll have to wait and see.
Lightyear hits cinemas on 17 June. Watch a teaser below.