Pixar has announced an origin story for the Space Ranger made famous in the Toy Story franchise, Buzz Lightyear. Lightyear charts Buzz' course from test pilot to Space Ranger. The new feature film was announced by Pete Doctor, Pixar's Chief Creative Officer during Disney's annual investor day presentation held on December 10th. The picture will be directed by Angus MacLane, who co-directed Finding Dory. Chris Evans, of Captain America fame, will voice Buzz. The picture will release June 17, 2022.
"At first glance you might think, 'Well, this is a Toy Story film. Well, not so fast. See, back when we created the very first Toy Story, we designed Buzz Lightyear with the idea that he was a toy based on some really cool character from an epic, blockbuster film. Well, all these years later we decided it's time to make that film." He went on to describe Lightyear as a "science-fiction adventure film unlike anything we've done before."
Fans will wonder why Chris Evans takes over as the voice of Lightyear instead of the venerable Tim Allen returning. Given that this is an origin story for the Space Ranger, we can only assume the producers were looking for a slightly younger, but still commanding voice presence to give life to the character who is notionally the 'real' Buzz Lightyear that inspired the action figure. Since Evans has seemingly abdicated his duties carrying the shield, he should have the time on his schedule and the team at Disney found an easy way to shuffle his talents within the Mouse House, moving him over to Pixar.
The Toy Story franchise seems to have considerable space to work with to spin this story out. Some fans had considered, after the most recent outing, that the storylines could only go so far following the aging toys. Winding-back the clock to delve into the origins of the main characters would seem to give the creators broad license to tell new stories and more fully develop the world of the toys.
MacLane joined Pixar in 1997 and has worked as an animator on every Pixar feature from A Bug's Life through Toy Story 3. He also worked in character development on Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles. While his animation and character development work spans nearly all of the most well-known Pixar titles (and numerous shorts and lesser-known bits), he moved up to co-director on Finding Dory. While true fans of Toy Story may shudder at the notion of the animation shop plumbing the 25-year-old franchise for origin material, we can be confident that MacLane can be considered a true shepherd, not only of the franchise, but of the broader Pixar legacy.
No other information has yet been released regarding supporting cast or the broader story line. As the entire Disney 'family', including Marvel, Lucas, Pixar and the rest of the Mouse House has made massive news tonight, we can be certain more news on the development of this picture will be on the way in the coming months. Stay tuned.