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3 Lightyear Theories, And What They Could Mean For The Toy Story Franchise

Buzz Lightyear sits in the cockpit of his spacecraft in Lightyear.
(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Upon the release of the trailer for Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear, the world’s imagination was once again fixated on what this new adventure could mean for the future. Since it doesn’t seem like another Toy Story sequel is planned at the moment, Chris Evans’ new incarnation of Buzz Lightyear could lead to some interesting possibilities. Of course, that depends on what sort of reality this spinoff exists in. 

To that point, we have three theories about what Lightyear could mean for the future of this reimagined Pixar character, and each theory has its own pathway to excitement in potential future installments. We’re about to speculate about the future of the real Buzz Lightyear to infinity and beyond, starting with building a firm basis on what we know so far about Lightyear.

Of course, before we go any further, let’s take a look at that Lightyear trailer yet again. It almost seems rude not to take one more glance at the record-breaking sizzle reel of excitement when we’ve talked it up so much. 

Now that we’ve gotten that formality out of the way, it’s time to move forward into the hypothetical future Lightyear has in store.

Buzz in the trailer for Lightyear

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

What We Know So Far About Lightyear

Announced at last year’s Disney Investor Day, Lightyear was one of many projects put on the docket for the next couple of years. Voiced by former Captain America star Chris Evans, this version of Buzz Lightyear is the inspiration behind the toy that was voiced by Tim Allen in the Toy Story series. Knowing that detail in particular, two specific theories come to mind when trying to figure out the answers to many of the questions surrounding Lightyear.

Buzz Lightyear sneaking around in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Theory 1: Lightyear Is A Reboot Of Buzz Lightyear In Adult Andy’s Future

It seems to be that Lightyear exists in the Disney/Pixar universe as a movie that sees Buzz Lightyear as its protagonist. Launching from that assumption, one of the two theories about Lightyear is that this could be a reboot of the Buzz Lightyear character in Andy’s future. That could lead to a potential ending tag could show the boy we saw grow up through three Toy Story movies taking his own child (or children) to see Lightyear. Also, there’s an interesting possibility for a Toy Story 5 plotline that makes for a hell of a legacy-quel.

Ducky and Bunny meeting Woody and Buzz in Toy Story 4.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

The Rebooted Buzz Lightyear Might Cross Paths With Buzz Or Woody

At the end of Toy Story 4, the legendary friendship of Woody and Buzz was broken up. Through destiny sending them both on their own paths, the cowboy and the spaceman took up new roles in the world. So if Toy Story 5 is a viable option in the world, the best option so far would be Chris Evans’ hypothetical reboot on the character having to face off against either Tim Allen’s OG Buzz, or Tom Hanks’ Woody. On the surface, it almost feels a re-skin of alternate Buzz Lightyear stories of the past, but with the right spin, it’s an idea that’s rich in potential.

Buzz Lightyear hiding on an alien world in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Theory 2: Lightyear Is A Prequel To Toy Story, Showing The Movie Andy Saw As A Kid

Our second theory behind Lightyear’s place in the Disney/Pixar universe still operates on the idea that the project is a movie in Andy’s life. However, instead of being a reboot of the Buzz Lightyear character, we could be seeing a prequel that shows the movie that made Andy and his friends want the toy in the first place. As Lightyear’s visual canvas looks like it’s inspired by Ridley Scott’s Alien, with the Star Wars legacy at large thrown in for good measure, those details could suggest that this is the 1995 movie that inspired Toy Story’s in-world merchandising bonanza.

Andy's bulletin board in Toy Story 3.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Future Lightyear Sequels Might Show More Key Moments In Andy’s Life

Going with that scenario regarding where Lightyear fits into the world, we may not even need to see a Toy Story 5 ever enter into the equation. Rather, the Lightyear franchise can continue along the same trajectory the original Toy Story movies did, with a sequel corresponding to each step in Andy’s journey through life. Not only can Chris Evans’ variant continue down his own path free of altering the perfect ending to Toy Story 4, we could even see where Andy ends up around the time Woody and Buzz part ways. However, one more possibility is hiding in the shadows, waiting to be revealed. 

Multiple Buzz Lightyears pictured side by side

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Bonus Theory: Crisis Of Infinite Buzz Lightyears

Through both of these Lightyear theories, the future is rooted in the fact that there’s two different Buzz Lightyears in play. Kind of like how toys based off of R-rated heroes like Rambo and movies like Aliens would soften the action for the kids at home, Buzz Lightyear’s movie equivalent looks harder edged than the one we’re all used to. But deep cut Disney fans will tell you that there’s one more Buzz we forgot about. 

Pivoting back to the example of Rambo, Buzz Lightyear even had his own Saturday morning cartoon: Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. Opting for more cartoony shenanigans, with a Buzz voiced by the Disney Legend-in-the-making Patrick Warburton, there’s a potential that the Toy Story series could do a rather interesting spinoff that sees all three Lightyears crossing paths. All it would take is a yard sale or a comic convention to bring the three together, and the lasers would fly in the quest to crown the “real” Buzz.

Lightyear obviously poses more questions than answers at this point. Set to be released into theaters on June 17, 2022, there’s a little over half a year to wait until those answers are given. Which means it’s not only a viable option to check out the 2022 release schedule for a picture of what the competition looks like, but you could also watch all four Toy Story films again on Disney+.  

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.