Lightyear: Didn't they already make this movie?

The trailer for the upcoming Disney/Pixar movie Lightyear is up. While the trailer doesn’t actually say very much about the movie, my understanding from other sources is that this is supposed to a movie in the Toy Story universe. In other words, this is a movie that Andy, Buzz, and Woody might watch not a movie about events that occurred in their world.

Complicated, but it makes it possible to show Buzz Lightyear in a science fiction setting without breaking continuity.

However, the studio has already done this. There was a cheap direct-to-video movie Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins which was released in 2000. It was followed by a cheap animated TV series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command which ran for three months. And like the upcoming movie, this movie and TV series were supposed to depict the adventures of Buzz Lightyear that the toy was based upon.

This is oddly fascinating to me. So from what I gather from the Disney wiki, in the Toy Story Universe (TSU), there was a (presumably PG-13) action movie called Lightyear, which is the titular space ranger’s origin story. Then there was a spin-off cartoon (still in universe) targeted towards kids called Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. And the toy Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story was from the cartoon.

It’s Tim Burton’s Batman first, Batman: The Animated Series next, and then a CGI movie made about a “living” plastic action figure of the cartoon batman.

My impression was in fact that (out of universe) they are doing a live action remake/reboot of the cartoon series (including the pilot movie you mentioned) as a more serious version that appeals to kids and adults.

This one seems like it’s going to be more of an origin story, unlike the show, which had Buzz already out there even in the pilot. It just set up the status quo of Star Command, rather than Buzz’s first journey as an astronaut.

I also find the in-universe explanation rather fascinating. It makes perfect sense as a way to justify the above.

This is the “live-action” movie reboot. The Buzz Lightyear property is old enough in universe to be ready for an upswing in nostalgia.

That was my first instinct, until I saw it is just CGI animated. And not in a realistic way like The Lion King.

No, no, it’s live-action in the universe that Andy lives in. To Andy, Lightyear looks like a real person. It’s just that, to us, the real people of Andy’s universe look cartoonish.

…whoa, dude…mind BLOWN!

It’s a depressing sign when even studios in fictional worlds have run out of ideas and are stuck making reboots.

By virtue of being an origin story, it does not seem to be a recycled plot from the animated direct-to-video and subsequent TV series, which picked up with Buzz Lightyear being an established space ranger.


OK, I can get this. But from Chris Evans’s tweet further down that Max_S posted:

And just to be clear, this isn’t Buzz Lightyear the toy. This is the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on

This would imply that in Andy’s world, there is a REAL Buzz Lightyear of a REAL Star Command who flies around defending the planet from a REAL Evil Emperor Zurg (who is Buzz’s father as well, but never mind).

Why doesn’t Andy’s world have massive ground-based space defense installations or underground bunkers for when Zurg’s forces get through Star Command’s defenses? Andy’s world doesn’t seem like it’s under continuous attack from extraterrestrials.

Now, probably he just misspoke about what it’s about, and Buzz was really just a character in a live-action show broadcast in Andy’s world, but if not I’m sure that The Pixar Theory will have to make some serious revisions…

I would direct you to this enlightening bit from director Angus McLane, from Entertainment Weekly,

“'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.”

So you can look at it as a sci-fi action film on its own, or as a sci-fi action film Andy in Toy Story might have watched.


Imagine they’d said:

Just to be clear, this isn’t Luke Skywalker the toy, this is the origin story of the human Luke Skywalker that the toy is based off.

They’re not implying that Buzz Lightyear is a real person in universe, they’re saying he’s a fictional character that featured in real movies/TV shows etc and that the Buzz Lightyear Andy has is a licensed toy.

Seems straightforward to me. A lot of you guys seem to be making this harder than it needs to be.

  1. In Andy’s world, there’s an animated series called Buzz Lightyear Of Star Command.
  2. There are toys made of Buzz, designed to resemble the animated version, one of which Andy receives for his 7th birthday.
  3. 25 years later, the owners of the Buzz Lightyear IP make an origin story movie in live-action.
  4. As far as Andy is concerned, it’s a nostalgia kick for him to watch his old cartoon reimagined with human actors.
  5. For us, it remains animated in the “same” style as Andy or Bonnie were in the Toy Story franchise.

Man, I wish this was going to be the Galaxy Quest of Andy’s world. Unfortunately, I expect it to be the Polar Express of my world.

Dang it, you figured me out.

Someone online has seen the movie and they were stunned that the opening three lines of the movie explain its premise better than ALL the marketing that has been done the last year. It begins like this:

"In 1995, Andy saw a movie. Because of that movie, Andy wanted to get a certain toy. This is the movie that Andy saw."

So it is the fictional Buzz’s movie. Like, the one that is fictional in their world, not the actual toy’s prequel-story from the Toy Story movies we saw.

So there’s scope for another movie (fiction to us, documentary to Andy) that actually takes place in Andy’s world, about the real life and (mis)fortunes of the actor who played Buzz Lightyear in the movie Andy saw.

I wonder if that was added after all the confusion from the marketing.

Let’s make things more confusing. In Andy’s world, is Lightyear a live action movie or a cartoon? I mean, the humans in Toy Story look like cartoons to us.

Live-action. That’s why the animation is more detailed than it was for the Toy Story movies.