Lightning McQueen Cars 3

The Cars franchise has just taken a big step forward with the release of Cars 3. Specifically, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has once again established himself as the focal point of the franchise -- alongside his new teammate/trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) -- and I think this reset of the status quo is a substantial improvement over the previous Cars film. It's a delightfully poetic return to form, and it also raises important questions about where the Cars series can go from here. I recently sat down with Owen Wilson at a Cars 3 press event to ask him about potential next steps in the Cars saga, and he admitted that he thinks a trip into the thriller genre is in order. Wilson elaborated:

Well, I kind of trust Pixar to kind of come up with the stories because they have such a great track record with doing these movies that work for kids and also that grown-ups and parents find entertaining. I would imagine that if they do do another one, it'll be something pretty cool. But yeah maybe like Lightning McQueen in sort of like a thriller. Maybe that could be something.

A Cars thriller isn't as crazy it seems at first glance. Although the franchise has primarily revolved around Lightning McQueen and his exploits as a racer, it has managed to veer into some unorthodox action-adventure territory as well over the years. Specifically, Cars 2 took Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) on a spy-themed adventure back in 2011, which showed just how far Pixar could stretch the ideas of the Cars universe. With the Cars franchise already serving as one of Pixar's more action-heavy properties, it doesn't feel entirely outlandish to assume that the animation giant could embrace those ideas even further by sending Lightning and Cruz on a thrilling mission far away from the racing circuit. Who knows? This could even become Pixar's take on the Fast and Furious formula in the long run.

While Cars 4 hasn't received confirmation, the idea still feels worth taking seriously. It's going to be hard to argue against the prospect of making a fourth film in the long run because the evidence seems to point to Cars 3 replicating the financial success of its predecessors. With the movie widely expected to dethrone Wonder Woman (the current reigning champ) at the box office this weekend, it may become easy for Pixar to justify another outing in this world. Plenty of plot threads established in this movie could easily carry over into a brand new Cars adventure, so there's an opportunity to keep going if Pixar wants to.

Check out the following clip from my chat with Owen Wilson to hear what else he had to say about a "thriller" take on the Cars films!

For now, the Cars franchise remains firmly entrenched in its racing roots, and fans can expect plenty of high-speed action in Pixar's latest offering. Cars 3 is now in theaters, so make sure to check it out.

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