Lightyear: Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toy Story Spin-off

Lightyear: Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toy Story Spin-off
Lightyear movie. Credit: Disney
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The Toy Story franchise may have ended (for now) but we don’t have to say goodbye to Buzz Lightyear just yet. Pixar is tapping into one of its most famous characters with a new animated film Lightyear, and it will tell the story of the man behind the toy.

What is Lightyear about?

Lightyear movie
Lightyear movie. Credit: Disney

Lightyear was announced at Disney Investor Day 2020, which was the first indication we had that a Toy Story spin-off was in development.

Lightyear is a movie by Pixar, makers of all things good and animated, and it tells the origin story of Buzz Lightyear, a character who inspired millions of toys made in his name. Now we’re going to find out why.

Disney said the sci-fi action-adventure movie “presents the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyearthe hero who inspired the toyintroducing the legendary Space Ranger who would win generations of fans”.

The studio revealed more details about the plot in a recent synopsis, saying:

The definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the toy, Lightyear follows the legendary Space Ranger after he’s marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth alongside his commander and their crew. As Buzz tries to find a way back home through space and time, he’s joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat, Sox. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg, an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda.

Lightyear trailer

We now have a better idea of what Buzz did to become this well-known, thanks to the collection of Lightyear trailers.


First, we got shots of Buzz travelling around space, dealing with all manner of sci-fi robots and aliens, and, hey would you believe it, he has hair under that helmet! The first official trailer also introduces us to Buzz’s companion, a creepy robot cat.

Chris Evans released a special preview of Lightyear at this year’s Oscars ceremony. Unfortunately, it didn’t air live here in Australia, but if you thought we couldn’t still see it down under, think again. Check it out.

Most recently, we were served a second official trailer for Lightyear where we see more of Buzz’s time-travelling experience through space and the team he gets to fight aliens with – including that creepy cat.

The third trailer gives an even longer and more in-depth look at Lightyear, including a glimpse at the evil Emperor Zurg!

Oh, and if you’re still confused about whether Lightyear is supposed to tell the story of a real person in the Toy Story universe or a character in a movie within the Toy Story universe, we have an answer for you.

Pete Doctor, Pixar CCO, said in an announcement at Disney Investor Day that “we designed Buzz Lightyear with the idea that he was a toy based on some really cool character from an epic blockbuster film. All these years later we decided it’s time to make that film”.

Who is in the cast?

Image: Pixar

Tim Allen may have voiced Buzz in four Toy Story movies but he won’t be the voice of the titular hero this time. Chris Evans (aka Captain America) is voicing the human Buzz Lightyear, and he’s kind of perfect for the role if you ask us.

Evans is clearly stoked for the gig, saying in a press release:

The phrase a dream come true gets thrown around a lot, but Ive never meant it more in my life. Anyone who knows me knows that my love for animated films runs deep. I cant believe that I get to be a part of the Pixar family and work with these truly brilliant artists who tell stories unlike anyone else. Watching them work is nothing short of magic. I pinch myself every day.”

As you’ll notice in the second official trailer, there are more space cadets to get to know and they’re voiced by Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, James Brolin, Dale Soules, Peter Sohn, Uzo Aduba, Efren Ramirez, Mary McDonald-Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr.

Lightyear is directed by Angus MacLane (co-director of Finding Dory).

When will Lightyear be released?

We don’t have to wait too long to see how Buzz was born because Lightyear is scheduled to release on June 17, 2022.

Until then you can catch up on all your Buzz Lightyear lore via the Toy Story films and shorts over on Disney+.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.

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