Lightyear, the 2022 spin-off of the beloved Toy Story franchise gave audiences an origin story for the Buzz Lightyear toy but also ruined one of the major lessons from the original 1995 movie. Toy Story was revolutionary for its time, not just because of its advancements in animation, but also for the generation of children the movies impacted. Woody and Buzz are an iconic duo, and they were important for shaping a lot of the moments that made Toy Story so good. While the origin story, which features Chris Evans voicing Buzz Lightyear, is a fun movie, it fails to connect with audiences like the Toy Story movies as it forgets the most important lessons.
One of the biggest lessons that Buzz Lightyear learned in Toy Story was to accept himself as a toy and that he didn’t need to be a real space ranger to be happy. Woody especially in the first movie understands his place as a toy and helps Buzz realize his purpose outside of being a space ranger. His speech in a fit of rage where he tells Buzz he isn’t the real Buzz Lightyear is heartbreaking for Buzz and he has to learn how to cope with that. Ironically, Lightyear frustratingly ignores that very lesson by showing how integral being a space ranger is to Buzz’s identity. He gives up his life and friends in order to correct his mistake and spends much of the movie trying to reassemble the space ranger program. Toy Story was about Buzz learning to accept himself, but Lightyear was all about Buzz’s hubris and didn’t enrich the source material in any meaningful way.
Lightyear Didn’t Need To Be A Toy Story Movie
Lightyear was a great movie on its own: it had interesting characters, a meaningful conflict, and one of the first references to an LGBTQ+ relationship in a Disney animated movie. However, the connection to Toy Story felt forced. While Buzz’s relationship with Alisha Hawthorne, and later her granddaughter, Izzy, are meaningful, they pale in comparison to Buzz’s relationship with Woody in the Toy Story movies. While the plot twist of Zurg not being Buzz’s father, but a future version of Buzz was a welcome surprise, that was the only real payoff for fans of Toy Story. In fact, it actually walks back a plot point from Toy Story 2.
Lightyear’s Premise Was Too Confusing
Lightyear was advertised as the answer to the questions audiences had about Buzz Lightyear, but the problem was that those questions didn’t need to be made into a full movie. Before the Lightyear movie starts, it’s introduced by a title card that reads, “In 1995, a boy named Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday. It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.” The premise of making a movie that is based on Andy’s favorite movie in Toy Story is a bit confusing, especially if the goal was to attract both children and adults. The people who grew up on Toy Story understand the convoluted purpose of the movie, but for some children, the premise may just be too much.
Even though the Toy Story connection wasn’t as successful as fans hoped, Lightyear is still a great movie. It’s fun, lighthearted, and has a great array of characters for everyone to fall in love with. It will be interesting to see if Disney follows through on the post-credit scene and make another movie. Hopefully, a sequel to Lightyear will bring cohesion to the Toy Story franchise.