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Why The Plot Of Lightyear Has Fans Scratching Their Heads

On Wednesday, Disney-Pixar dropped the official teaser trailer for the upcoming 2022 film "Lightyear." The project was announced to the world in December 2020 at the Disney Investor Day event. Additionally, the studio confirmed Chris Evans voices the human character who inspired the action figure from its "Toy Story" franchise (via Indiewire).

Cut to the release of the "Lightyear" teaser trailer this week. Not only do we get a better look at the heroic astronaut Evans will be voicing, but we also see the futuristic world where he lives. It appears this version of Lightyear is stationed at an actual Star Command base on a distant planet. He's seen piloting an aircraft through what looks like a slingshot maneuver around the sun, à la "Star Trek" before David Bowie's "Starman" begins to play. From there, we meet a friend of Lightyear's, peep a few fun robots, see a swampy alien planet, and get a taste of the adventure to come. 

Following the release of the teaser, fans reacted to exactly which version of Lightyear would be in the movie and when exactly the movie took place. As summed up by Twitter user @Campster, "So wait. If this is the story of the in-universe astronaut that led to the popular toy line, presumably all of this stuff happened *before* the events of 'Toy Story 1' in 1995. So retroactively does Andy live in some sort of spacebase-having sci-fi world?"

Here's how the real Lightyear figures into the Toy Story world

This is not the first time the plot of "Lightyear" has needed an explanation. When the movie was originally announced at Disney Investor Day 2020, the protagonist of "Lightyear" is billed as the real astronaut on which the Buzz Lightyear toy in 1995's "Toy Story" is based (via Insider). Because Pixar wanted to tease the project rather than reveal all of the specifics around it in the initial announcement, it wasn't entirely clear if Chris Evans was playing the same Buzz from the "Toy Story" franchise (which implies he'd ostensibly be replacing Allen), or what Pixar actual means with the term "real Buzz Lightyear." Shortly after the announcement, he weighed in on his character, tweeting, "And, just to be clear, this isn't Buzz Lightyear the toy. This is the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on."

So, here's the deal: Evans is not playing the toy version of Buzz; that honor still remains with Allen. Instead, he is playing the heroic astronaut character (emphasis on "character," aka a fictional person) who inspired the creation of the Buzz Lightyear, all of which takes place within the world of "Toy Story." Put another way, Evans' Lightyear is a fictional character Andy would have seen in movies or TV before his mom gifted him the Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday.

Director Angus MacLane echoed this sentiment while addressing what version is in his movie. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly recently, he noted, "Another way to get at it, it's a straightforward sci-fi action film about the Buzz Lightyear character. In the 'Toy Story' universe, it would be like a movie that maybe Andy would have seen, that would have made him want a Buzz Lightyear figure."