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Humanizing Buzz Lightyear - Upcoming Pixar

Editor in Chief

Humanizing Buzz Lightyear

Angus Maclane Lightyear

Lightyear makes its cinema debut this Friday. Beyond Infinity: Buzz and the Journey to Lightyear is now streaming on Disney+. The 35 minute documentary offers a glimpse behind the re-imagining of the space ranger. 

We got to preview the film a few months ago and were optimistic. Many of the early reviews have also been positive. 

Lightyear has proven to be very polarizing. I was skeptical when it was first announced, but so many of the most vocal opinions were…extreme. Just being lukewarm or uninterested wasn’t enough; there had be some nefarious agenda at play. I doubt Beyond Infinity will change any minds but it’s still worth seeing. 

According to director Angus MacLane, he always wondered about the show or movie Buzz came from. I can see the appeal there. Maybe the question of Buzz’s origin, how and why he’s such a popular and in-demand toy, wasn’t necessary to even answer. But it is to MacLane and I respect that. Lightyear is a time travel movie influenced by the long years spent on each Pixar film. It can feel a bit disorienting to emerge from work on a film four years in the making. It’s also concerned with what MacLane refers to as “deep truths in science fiction.”

“Could [Buzz] be in a situation where he was traveling through time at a different rate than other people?”

Everyone around Buzz gets older and changes, but he remains the same. How does he adapt, return home, fix things? It’s a challenge just perfect for a full length adventure, starring such an iconic character. How would Buzz the toy react? And how else could he have become so pompous and deluded to believe he’s not a plastic toy, but a ‘real’ hero from a movie? The possibilities are endless. Buzz is Woody’s opposite: he knows of his fame, while Woody’s origins as a popular TV show star were unknown to him. 

Beyond Infinity also includes vintage clips of the Toy Story crew from the 1990s, with more recent ones of Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich and even the elusive Andrew Stanton! (Stanton will not be reprising his role as Zurg, so expectations are rather high for James Brolin).

Writer James Headley has a great philosophy on storytelling:

“…we’re dumb and we can’t remember things. And so we need the same lessons taught to us over and over again, so that we remember to be decent and we remember that we’re part of a community.”

Perhaps Lightyear will do the same, and beyond.

Last modified: September 10, 2023

Simoa (Elliefredricksen) is Editor in Chief of Upcoming Pixar and an aspiring Pixar heroine. She joined Upcoming Pixar in 2014 and is always excited to see how her favorite animation studio changes and grows.