Is Lightyear Live-Action or Animated in the Toy Story World?

Is Lightyear Live-Action or Animated in the Toy Story World?
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Buzz and Sox in the cockpit.

Buzz and Sox fly to infinity and beyond in Pixar’s Lightyear.
Image: Pixar

When thinking about Pixar’s latest film, Lightyear, you have two choices. You can just look at it as a cool sci-fi adventure and enjoy the ride, or you can melt your freaking brain. To do the latter, you’ll have to embrace and dig into the meta-nature of the film, which is that it’s the movie Andy—the human kid from Toy Story—saw that made him want a Buzz Lightyear toy.

We’ve already dug very deep into that. In a previous article, Lightyear’s co-writer and director Angus MacLane explained in wild detail just how much he’s figured out what this movie is, how it relates to the toy, and more. But if you thought that was it, think again. Speaking at a recent press conference for the film, MacLane, producer Galyn Susman, and composer Michael Giacchino dove in even deeper.

The revelation came when reporter Tessa Smith from Mama’s Geeky asked if they think, in Andy’s world, Lightyear is a live-action film or an animated film? MacLane quickly said it was live-action, but then took it a step further. “We got asked yesterday who were the filmmakers who made the film,” MacLane said. “And then we realized we are the filmmakers because the credits have our names on it. [So] I think there’s an in-universe version of each of us [and] that we are now Disney characters.”

“You can see us realize it in real-time in some of the press yesterday,” MacLane added. “That is a weird thing to figure out and think about.” Weird but oddly exciting, especially for Giacchino. “Are they going to make action figures of us?” he asked MacLane. “I hope so, that would be awesome,” the director answered.

Sox looking adorable.

After you see Lightyear, you will want a Sox toy.
Image: Pixar

Speaking of action figures, the question was also asked why we’ve seen toys of Buzz and Zurg in the Toy Story universe, but not the franchise’s obvious best character, Sox, the robot cat who steals this film. As expected, MacLane had a suitably nerdy answer for that too,

“Andy’s mom couldn’t get it,” he said. “It was sold out everywhere.” That would have been a sufficient enough explanation but the director took it a step further. “That’s an expensive toy,” he said. “It would have been like Worlds of Wonder or Tiger Electronic. It would’ve been like kind of a fancy, like a $70 toy.” He and Giachinno then likened it to the AT-AT Walker toy from The Empire Strikes Back. It was the expensive one you wanted, but your parents didn’t get you. That’s Sox.

And, again, it’s very important to state that none of this has anything to do with the movie. Lightyear stands on its own and you don’t need to give it a second thought. It just so happens to be super fun if you decide to think about it. “Your choices are thus,” MacLane said. “You can go down the rabbit hole like we’ve just done, or you can see a fantastic new film, Lightyear, starting June 17.” We’ll have our full review on Monday.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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