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Pixar Characters Who Need An Origin Film

Pick a Pixar film, any Pixar film. Chances are that one of—if not the—best aspects of it will be a supporting character. It isn't just animation and writing that endear this studio's output to audiences around the world. Titles ranging from "The Incredibles" to "Soul" to "Toy Story" prove so captivating because they're packed with vividly entertaining characters. This is especially true of supporting roles, who tend to steal scenes as often as they capture the hearts of moviegoers. Over the years, titles from Pixar have turned everyone from a cranky food critic to a caterpillar that wants to be a butterfly into individuals that people of all ages enjoy. 

So many of these supporting characters have become so beloved that one can't help but wonder if some of them could sustain their own origin story movies. Such productions could offer audiences a glimpse at the events that molded them into the characters we all know and love. Not all Pixar characters are cut out for such treatment, but there are several individuals scattered throughout the Pixar library that seem primed and ready for such motion pictures. Instead of doing another "Toy Story" or "Incredibles" installment, let's instead give these Pixar characters a chance to show off their pasts. 


One of the funniest moments of the original "Toy Story" comes not from Buzz Lightyear or Woody the Cowboy, but rather a plastic shark named only Shark (Jack Angel). After Woody spends a night in a toy chest, the cowboy inquires what happened to his hat. Shark emerges wearing the hat, shouting "Hey look! I'm Woody! Howdy howdy howdy!" Woody's response? To sarcastically laugh and then grab his hat back, causing Shark to recoil back in embarrassment. Woody may not have been a fan of this mimicry, but Shark still leaves an impression. It's a throwaway gag bursting with so much personality that you immediately want Shark to become a part of the main cast.

Unfortunately, Shark was a nonentity for the rest of "Toy Story," failing to reappear even when Woody and Buzz needed the help of Andy's other toys to get onto a moving truck. After that inaugural adventure, he only briefly appeared again in "Toy Story 2" before vanishing entirely in the two subsequent movies. After such a prolonged absence from the big screen, it's time we got more Shark. Specifically, let's get this plastic critter an origin movie where audiences can discover where he got all that exuberant confidence from. A character who can be this funny in such a small moment is something special, perhaps even special enough to headline a solo prequel.  

Anton Ego

In "Ratatouille," the most powerful figure in the world of culinary arts isn't a chef with a keen sense of smell or taste, but rather a food critic with a sharp pen. Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole) is a ruthless consumer of cuisine who can make or break an eatery with one of his reviews. Thanks to protagonist Remy serving up a delicious dish of ratatouille at the end of "Ratatouille," Ego is transported back to his happier experiences with food as a youngster, inspiring a renewed love for this art form in the process. That's the end of the story of "Ratatouille," but does it have to be the end of Ego's tale?

A man with this level of influence and control surely must have treasure troves of stories to tell that could fuel multiple, let alone one, quality origin story movies. Plus, there's the prospect of compelling tragedy in exploring the events that led Ego from being a child comforted by food to a bitter old man who approaches all assignments with cynicism. Ego didn't just wake up one day and decide to be so callous; it had to be a gradual shift. An origin story movie could be the perfect place to explore what molded Anton Ego, an unparalleled force of nature in the Parisian cooking scene.

The Circus Bugs

As "A Bug's Life" begins, the circus bugs, which include everyone from a cantankerous ladybug to a self-conscious stick bug, are committed to their lot in life, engaging in dangerous and degrading stunts for P.T. Flea (John Ratzenberger). They're also clearly familiar with one another, as evidenced by their easygoing rapport. A romantic relationship even arises between moth Gypsy (Madeline Kahn) and praying mantis Manny (Jonathan Harris). They're an oddball bunch of bugs, but "A Bug's Life" also shows them as a tight-knit group that welcomes all outcasts. They don't always say or do the right thing, but their inclusiveness and gung-ho spirit make them endearing.

Their part in thwarting the plans of an evil group of grasshoppers isn't the start of their story. Long before Flik sought help to defeat those malicious insects, these Circus Bugs must've had further adventures, including one where they all met each other. Seeing how these oddball kindred artistic spirits discovered one another could be a lot of fun and would give some of the most memorable characters of the original "A Bug's Life," like caterpillar Heimlich (Joe Ranft), a chance to step up to leading role status. In short, it's time to give these circus bugs a larger big top to play in.


Michael Keaton has portrayed many memorable comic figures in his esteemed career. One of his funniest roles came in playing Ken in "Toy Story 3." A doll obsessed with fashion and Barbie, Keaton plays Ken with 100% straight-faced commitment, without a trace of self-aware snark to undercut this ascot-fixated toy. He's a riot in his appearance in "Toy Story 3" and subsequent "Toy Story" media, like the short film "Hawaiian Vacation." Keaton's performance is so much fun that it feels like a crime that Ken hasn't been called up to headline an origin movie.

The story of how Ken got to Sunnyside Daycare and became one of the most loyal toys to ruthless leader Lotso could be an interesting one. What it's like to be a toy that has to betray other toys to survive? Granted, this wouldn't be a tale full of upbeat glee. However, it could provide an interesting counterbalance to how often Ken is wrapped up in his fashion-fixated world detached from reality. Plus, Keaton's voice work as Ken is so hysterical that it'll help ensure this prospective origin story movie doesn't get too downbeat and gloomy. Confronting a complicated tone would be more than worth it just to see more of one of the "Toy Story" saga's most enjoyable side characters.


Throughout "Monsters University," viewers get tiny glimpses into the life of Oozma Kappa fraternity member Art (Charlie Day). First, we learn he's a New Age philosophy major. Then, we find out he's had extensive experience scouring the sewers of the titular educational institution. We also find out that he possesses an extra toe, though he doesn't carry it on his person at all times. Even more intriguing is his outcry during a break-in gone awry that he "can't go back to jail," an impulse that leads to him abandoning his friends once they're cornered by the cops.

Art isn't in a whole lot of "Monsters University," but what we do get hints at an oddly dark and complicated life for a Pixar character. Art's throwaway lines of dialogue indicate a complicated fellow who had run-ins with both the law and concepts of philosophy. Such contradictions can't help but make you wonder who this purple beast was before he got into adventures with Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman). Just a few lines referencing his past in "Monsters University" indicate there's plenty of fodder there for a compelling origin story movie. If nothing else, moviegoers could finally get closure on where exactly Art procured that extra toe...and where he's taken to hiding it.


In the world of "The Incredibles," almost all classic superheroes were annihilated by Syndrome as part of his evil scheme. One exception was Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), who can shoot blasts of ice out of his hands. This cool superpower made him a powerful ally to the titular family of "The Incredibles" and, in more intimate moments, just a good friend to Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson). Anyone who can be just as reliable a buddy as they are in world-saving scenarios is someone you can't help but fall in love with. No wonder Frozone emerged as such a scene-stealing favorite for moviegoers everywhere.

The prologue to the first "Incredibles" gave viewers a glimpse at what Frozone's original time as a crime fighter was like, but we didn't see everything about Frozone's earliest days in costume. An origin story movie could give moviegoers perspective on what informed this man's decision to become a superhero. Plus, maybe we could witness the meet-cute between Frozone and his unnamed wife, who is responsible for some of the most iconic lines in the original "Incredibles." Frozone's already proved a fascinating character; now it's time to probe those fascinating qualities to make a superb origin story movie.

Pet Collector

"The Good Dinosaur" director Peter Sohn has a storied career of providing voiceovers in Pixar movies like "Ratatouille" and "Monsters University." It's no surprise, then, that he'd find a role to voice in a film he also directed. Sohn provided his pipes to the "Good Dinosaur" character Pet Collector, one of the first figures Arlo encounters on his journey back home. Pet Collector is a triceratops with lots and lots of animals perched on top of various parts of his body, with each of these critters carrying a distinct name and an elaborate backstory that Pet Collector is all too happy to share at the drop of a hat.

There's no shortage of dinosaurs with oversized personalities scattered throughout "The Good Dinosaur," but Pet Collector may be the very best out of all of them thanks to his intriguing design and Sohn's amusingly frazzled voicework. The combination of his brevity of screentime and the dense number of animals on him also makes one immediately wonder how he got to this point in life. How did the Pet Collector become, well, the Pet Collector? An origin movie could provide some answers to that and other questions related to this "Good Dinosaur" scene-stealer. As a cherry on top, it would also allow Sohn a chance to deliver more memorable voicework. 


Roughly two-thirds of the way through "Cars," audiences and protagonist Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) learn that Sally (Bonnie Hunt) is an awful lot like McQueen. She, too, used to be  stuck in the fast-paced nature of life before an unexpected detour took her to the slowed-down town of Radiator Springs. She's parallel to Lightning McQueen and, at this point in his journey, a symbol of the kind of life he could lead. That's all well and good, but these facts reflect how, despite having a large backstory, Sally isn't much more than a prop in the original "Cars" used to nudge McQueen to his next step on the long road to self-improvement.

Neither of the subsequent two "Cars" movies did much to detail Sally, which means there's plenty of room for her to grow as a fictional figure. An origin story movie chronicling the tale she imparted to McQueen and events long before she found her way to Radiator Springs would add more dimension to Sally, making her more than just McQueen's love interest. Sally has proven to be an important character in "Cars" mythos, but she isn't one with much nuance. A prequel film would be a chance to correct that shortcoming.


In a dentist's office fish tank, Nemo the young clownfish finds solace in the company of Gill, a fish whose greatest claim to fame was damaging his fin in an attempt to escape this tank. Given that he's voiced by Willem Dafoe, famous for playing villains in mainstream studio fare, you might expect Gill to be a hidden baddie in "Finding Nemo," someone who provides extra conflict to Nemo while he's separated from home. Instead, Gill is a wise, trustworthy soul. He's the kind of friend anyone would want around...or even the kind of figure you'd want to headline an entire origin story movie.

Gill is defined by his relationship with Nemo, but that's not where his entire life began. He had a whole existence long before this small clownfish entered the picture, one that entailed him, like Nemo, initially living in the ocean. Exploring in detail what led to him getting snatched up and put in this dentist's office fish tank, as well as other important developments (like how he cultivated friendships with his fellow trapped sea life) would be fascinating. Plus, bringing Gill back for his origin story movie would offer a chance to audiences everywhere to receive more Willem Dafoe. Who doesn't want that?

Mamá Imelda

The opening of "Coco" establishes that the central family in the film's plot was largely held together by Mamá Imelda (Alanna Ubach), who put together her own shoe company after her partner left her. She had too many obstacles to count standing in her way, but Imelda put the pedal to the metal and staunchly refused to let life drag her down. In the process, Imelda left an enormous reputation that defined Miguel's (Anthony Gonzales) large family. Both Miguel and the audience get to visit the skeleton form of Imelda once Miguel travels to the Land of the Dead, where she remains a force of nature capable of getting any task, no matter how big or small, accomplished.

Imelda proves to be an entertaining figure in her afterlife form, but this character could prove fascinating alive, too. The intriguing tale about how she started up a family business on her own would be a fantastic backbone for an origin story movie. Best of all, it wouldn't just be a rehash of "Coco." The central idea behind Imelda's backstory is a classic underdog yarn that could work as a standalone narrative. Plus, it could give audiences a chance to see different sides of other long-dead relatives in Miguel's family tree.


The closest thing "Soul" has to a traditional antagonist is Terry (Rachel House), a spirit tasked with counting every single soul that passes on to The Great Beyond. She takes her job very seriously and is always precise about her "count" of souls. When the newly deceased Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) goes off on his own path and disrupts the count, Terry goes on a hunt for Gardner that spans the entire movie. It's an entertaining subplot, especially since House imbues Terry with such amusing voicework. Channeling other roles in her career, like her performance in "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," House injects Terry with a sense of confidence that's utterly hysterical.

Terry's so enjoyable that her story should continue beyond "Soul." Terry's day-to-day interactions with other spirits in The Great Before and The Great Beyond show amusing workplace dynamics that could make for key comedic ingredients in an origin story movie for Terry. Exploring how she got to the afterlife could also make a great storyline. Above all else, though, a Terry-centric origin film would need to bring back Rachel House. She utterly defines this character and it'd be a crime not to utilize her again.

Chef Gusteau

Save for a brief glimpse of him speaking on television at the start of the story, audiences never get to see Chef Gusteau (Brad Garrett) alive and well in "Ratatouille." Instead, both moviegoers and rat protagonist Remy (Patton Oswalt) learn early on that Gusteau has recently passed away after critic Anton Ego ensured that his restaurant would no longer be a five-star establishment. After his demise, this world-famous chef appears as a tiny floating figment of the imagination of Remy, someone who serves as an inner voice that can help guide this rodent along his journey. Gusteau certainly functions well in this purpose in the final cut of "Ratatouille." Seeing such a large fellow rendered as a tiny, spry spirit is amusing.

However, the actual Gusteau lived a long, fulfilling life before he passed away. An origin film around that existence could be quite interesting, especially since it could help set up events of "Ratatouille." Viewers would finally see the rapport between Gusteau and eventual "Ratatouille" baddie Skinner (Ian Holm), and find out more about Gusteau's lover, who turned out to be the mom of hapless chef Linguini (Lou Romano). Gusteau lived a life as packed with drama as a French meal is stuffed with flavor. It's time he got an origin movie to reflect that.