Every cinephile loves a good hero – someone to admire, someone to root for. Heroes overcome insurmountable obstacles to save the day. And the best heroes – the ones who live on long after their films hit the big screen – are, at heart, human. They have flaws and fears – they’re utterly relatable, even as they soar to greatness. Such a hero is Buzz Lightyear.
A TRUE ACTION HERO
In fact, Buzz Lightyear is the kind of big-screen phenomenon that inspired a huge line of toys. That’s what filmmakers pictured when they created the character for Pixar’sToy Story in 1995.
That story placed Buzz Lightyear – the toy in this case – center stage as the brand-new, highly sought-after action figure. It gives vintage pull-string Sheriff Woody a run for his money as Andy’s favorite.
Fast forward 21 years and director Angus MacLane found himself asking: What movie inspired Andy to beg for a fancy toy with lasers, karate-chop action, and aerodynamic space wings?
“Lightyear is the movie that Andy, his friends, and probably most of the rest of the world saw,” says MacLane. “I wanted to make something that felt true to those fun, big-budget popcorn films.”
I did a lot of research, breaking down the nature of genre thrillers, says MacLane.
I knew Buzz Lightyear would have to face a big problem. I liked the sci-fi element of time dilation. There’s a rich history of character-out-of-time heroics: Captain America, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, to name a few.
“They say you can’t live in the past, but what if you could?” continues MacLane. “We all wonder what it would be like to go back in time, but instead we’re jumping forward in time. That’s the truth I wanted to build for ‘Lightyear’- nostalgia for the past while rapidly jumping into the future.”
LIGHTYEAR AND THE NEW MOVIE
The film kicks off with accomplished Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear, his commander Alisha Hawthorne, and a crew of more than 1,000 scientists and technicians heading home from their latest mission.
Approximately 4.2 million light-years away from Earth, a sensor signals their proximity to an uncharted but potentially resource-rich planet. Buzz makes the call to reroute their exploration vessel (aka the Turnip) to T’Kani Prime – a swampy planet with aggressive vines and giant swarming bugs.
Efforts for a quick exit go horribly awry, culminating in a crash that shatters their fuel cell, leaving Buzz, Alisha and their entire crew stranded on the less-than-welcoming planet.
“Buzz is the guy who’s been at the top of his game for a while,” says executive producer Andrew Stanton, who contributed to all four “Toy Story” films. “We’re witnessing in this movie his first fall from grace. He’s never experienced that before.”
From August 3rd, you can follow the adventures of Buzz Lightyear on Disney+.
Photos Premiere: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney
Film images: © 2021 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.