5 Times Lightyear Reminded Me Of The MCU's Captain America, Besides Chris Evans Starring

Lightyear and Chris Evans as Captain America both flying
(Image credit: Pixar/Marvel)

SPOILERS are ahead for Lightyear, now playing in theaters. 

In Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear, the beloved animated character goes from the Tim Allen’s comedic toy who didn’t know he was a child's plaything to Chris Evans’ full-blown action hero version for the new spinoff. Of course, prior to voicing the space ranger, Evans spent a decade as MCU’s Captain America, and that makes comparisons between him and really any role he does next common. But while watching Lightyear, a lot of the movie's elements reminded me of the big-screen Steve Rogers we know and love, and I’m not just talking about the voice I was hearing when Buzz says “To infinity and beyond!” 

As Lightyear sets things up from the beginning, the concept of the new release is the 1995 movie that Andy watched as a kid that inspired him to turn his entire room Buzz Lightyear-themed – effectively leading to Woody’s jealousy. With that in mind, Chris Evans’ Buzz Lightyear is much different than the Tim Allen version, but oddly enough, super alike to Captain America. Here’s why: 

Buzz Lightyear piloting his ship to hyperspace in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Both Buzz And Cap Have Slowed Aging

When the MCU introduced Captain America to the big screen in 2011 with Chris Evans’ portrayal, The First Avenger delves into the hero’s origins during World War II when the scrawny soldier receives the Super Soldier Serum and fights some Nazis. After his first missions in the ‘40s, Steve Rogers memorably crashes into the Arctic on the job and wakes up in the 21st century still looking as strapping as he did nearly 70 years prior. He becomes a man lost in time. 

Lightyear is also about a man lost in time. As the movie quickly sets up in the beginning, he’s on a mission to test hyperspace fuel to help those marooned on T’Kani Prime conduct repairs and leave the alien planet. However, every time he blasts off and tests the fuel, he arrives back on the planet looking just as young as everyone around him grows four years older. These are different circumstances, but both live out a similar journey of time going by without them as they hold on to their youth to do their heroic duties. 

Commander Hawthorne in Lightyear and Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger

(Image credit: Pixar/Marvel Studios)

Buzz And Cap Both Outlive Their Partners While On The Job

With Lightyear and Captain America’s MCU arc both having to do with a hero who gets dislodged in time, comes another similarity storywise. In The First Avenger, Chris Evans’ character partners up with Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter, who works closely with him as he punches World War II straight to the face. In the process, the pair fall in love and have chemistry that bounces off the dancefloor (if he ever made that dance date). However, when Steve crashes into the ice, Peggy’s life goes on without him and she has an entire life without him. The next time Steve meets up with Peggy is in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and she is an old woman with an entire life that has passed them by. 

Lightyear does something similar with its early storyline with Uzo Aduba’s Commander Hawthorne. As Buzz is going on mission after mission, his good friend is progressing through life, as we see her get engaged, married and have kids with her partner in a Pixar LGBTQ+ moment that was nearly cut. Hawthorne’s last interaction with Buzz is over a video hologram where she looks to be in a hospital bed and an old woman. Although the two are not romantically entwined, it’s a similar concept that reminded me of the former. Plus, Buzz later befriends the granddaughter of his friend, Izzy Hawthorne, which is reminiscent of Cap teaming up with Sharon Carter in later Captain America movies. 

Lightyear and Captain America teams

(Image credit: Pixar/Marvel Studios)

The Ragtag Teams Buzz And Cap Respectively Befriend

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers cannot work alone in order to defeat the Red Skull. He recruits his pal Bucky Barnes alongside Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Jim Morita, James Montgomery Falsworth and Jacques Dernier to attack other Hydra bases. Rogers’ team is no Avengers in his first mission; they are just typical soldiers who have the might and motivation to help him save the day. 

Lightyear reminded me of Captain America as well due to it also having a ragtag team who he works with in order to take down Zurg. In this instance, it's Izzy Hawthorne, Mo Morrison and Darby Steel. He needs them to save the day and they help the storyline. Of course, this element is not unique to these two films, but it adds to the similarities I noticed. 

Chris Evans as Old Cap at the end of Avengers: Endgame

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Idea Of Buzz And Cap Going Back In Time To Be Happier

The major twist of Lightyear is that Zurg is an older Buzz who wants to go back in time and change the events that happened within the film so that he completes the mission the first time. Young Buzz is against this and ends up having to fight him in order to make sure time isn’t changed due to his selfish reasoning. Interestingly enough, this also aligns with the arc of Captain America as well. 

Except in Captain America’s case, he doesn’t want to or know how to go back in time. However, when the The Snap happens and the Avengers decide they need to go back in time to reverse the situation, Cap ends up getting to go back in time to save the day. Then at the end of Avengers: Endgame, he goes back in time and lives his life with Peggy, and we see a much older Cap come back to the present day who lived a happy and fulfilled life. In the instance of the MCU, going back in time to be happier is earned, whereas old Buzz’s plans are much more nefarious. Either way, both stories explore the same theme. 

Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story and Chris Evans in fitness challenge video in Spider-Man: Homecoming

(Image credit: Pixar/Marvel Studios)

Buzz And Cap Become Legends That Inspire Generations Of Heroes

Lastly, both characters find themselves a massive legacy that makes them legends within their universes that inspire generations of heroes. For Captain America, his heroics make him famous and the first Avenger that later inspires the larger Marvel team we meet in the modern day. He’s the symbol of justice and doing the right thing in the MCU. Buzz Lightyear, while on his missions over the years, becomes a legend in his own way as one of the last Space Rangers before inspiring them to return at the end of the film. And then, of course, he becomes a wildly popular toy for Andy to play with in Toy Story

Both characters are not only similar, but Captain America’s role in the Marvel movies and the Lightyear movie have quite a bit in common. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more Lightyear coverage.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.