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How is Lightyear connected to Toy Story?

The new film brings back the iconic space ranger Buzz Lightyear – but with a twist.

Published: Friday, 17th June 2022 at 8:00 am
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The Toy Story series has given us some of the best animated films of all time over the years – and now the franchise is back with a fifth instalment in the shape of brand new spin-off movie Lightyear.


The film sees Captain America star Chris Evans take over from Tim Allen as the voice of the iconic titular space ranger – albeit with something of a major twist from the previous entries in the series.

Shortly after it was first announced by Pixar towards the end of 2020, Evans rather baffled the internet when he announced the film wasn't about Buzz Lightyear the toy, but rather it was "The origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on."

Now that the film has been released, it's much easier to make sense of that statement – read on to discover exactly how Lightyear is connected to the Toy Story films.

How is Lightyear connected to Toy Story?

The answer to this question is provided in the very opening seconds of Lightyear – when text flashes up on screen explaining exactly what the audience is about to watch.

"In 1995, a boy named Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday. It was from his favourite movie. This is that movie," the text reads.

In short, this film is one that exists in the Toy Story universe and was technically released a couple of decades ago when Andy was a child.

In fact, director Angus MacLane has revealed that the film would actually have been released prior to when Andy received the toy in 1995 – explaining to Fandom that it could even have first come out in the '80s.

“It says he got the toy in 1995 but it was from his favourite movie," MacLane said. "His favourite movie was not from 1995, his favourite movie was from 1984 or 1985. It was kind of separated from that. [Lightyear] was something Andy saw on VHS a lot, that’s the way I looked at it."

So essentially, Lightyear is the Star Wars of the Toy Story world, and just like George Lucas' films led to all sorts of merchandise based on Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia etc, it appears that Lightyear led to the Buzz toy becoming one of the most popular in Andy's world.

There are naturally a few other things in the film that will be recognisable to fans of the Toy Story films – including Buzz's oft-repeated catchphrase "To Infinity and Beyond" and the fact that his nemesis is the villain Emperor Zurg, but many of the other characters are brand new for this film.

And crucially – as Evans was trying to articulate with that tweet back in 2020 – the Buzz we see in this film is different from the one we see in Toy Story in that he is not meant to be a toy in the movie, but rather a real space ranger having real adventures.

Why is Tim Allen not voicing Buzz Lightyear?

Some fans were surprised to learn that original Buzz Lightyear voice actor Tim Allen would not be returning to play the character in the new film – with Chris Evans instead landing the role.

Actress Patricia Heaton was especially annoyed with the decision, claiming on Twitter that "Disney/Pixar made a HUGE mistake" in not casting Allen in "The role that he originated, the role that he owns."

But according to both Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman, this change was made in order to differentiate the toy Buzz in the original Toy Story films from the 'real' Buzz in the new feature,

"Tim really is the embodiment of the toy Buzz, and this isn’t the toy world, so it really doesn’t make sense," Susman explained to The Hollywood Reporter.

"There’s not really a role. It would just cause more confusion for audiences instead of helping them understand the movie we’re trying to tell."

"Buzz was a side character in Toy Story and was a little goofier and a little more of a comedic relief," MacLane added.

"For Buzz to be a main character he needed a little more gravitas, a little more vulnerability, needed to be funny but not in a goofy way that would undercut the drama. Chris embodied all of those things."

Read more: Lightyear ending explained: What is the Emperor Zurg twist?

Lightyear is released in UK cinemas on Friday 17th June 2022. Watch the original Toy Story movies on Disney Plus, available for £79.90 for a year or £7.99 a month.

Check out what else is on with our TV Guide, or visit our Movies hub for more news and features.


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