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Lightyear: Release Date, Cast, And Other Quick Things We Know About The Pixar Movie

Chris Evans' Lightyear in Pixar movie
(Image credit: Pixar)

Ever since Pixar's inception, Buzz Lightyear has remained a key player in the company's ever-sustaining longevity. Arguably the studio's most recognizable character, Pixar has been adamant to tell more Toy Story tales — or Toy Stories — with the space ranger at the forefront. But now, it's time for the cadet to go to infinity... and, of course, beyond.

Indeed, the famous spaceman will finally have a Pixar movie of his own with Lightyear, the 26th feature film from the multi-award-winning animation house. With Chris Evans lending his voice to the galaxy-hopping journeyman, this Buzz Lightyear won't be the same Buzz that audiences grew up with over the decades, particularly as this variation of the character will follow the origins of the astronaut character who inspired the toy, not Andy's plastic friend. As this new 2022 release comes to theaters soon, here are some key details that we know about Lightyear. 

Buzz Lightyear in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Lightyear’s Release Date Is Set For June 17, 2022

Infinity isn't so far away. Indeed, Lightyear, the new animated origin story for the galaxy-searching space ranger, is slated to be released on June 17th, 2022.. While Disney has built a nasty habit of dropping their original Pixar movies on Disney+ in lieu of a theatrical rollout, this solo re-imagining is getting a traditional release.

Chris Evans in white cable knit sweater in Knives Out

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Chris Evans Will Voice Buzz Lightyear

It's hard to imagine anything other than Tim Allen's voice coming out of Buzz Lightyear's mouth. While several other voice actors have been heard as the space cadet over the years, including Patrick Warburton, Pat Fraley, and Corey Burton, the movies have seen the Home Improvement star behind the voice (with the exception of Toy Story 3's Spanish Mode Buzz, voiced by Javier Fernandez-Peña). But that's now set to change.

When Lightyear was announced, it was revealed that Chris Evans, not Tim Allen, would lend his movie star presence to this ever-enduring planet-bouncing, super suit-wearing space ranger. While Toy Story fans were initially concerned, loudly wondering if this meant the end of Allen's time with the character, Disney/Pixar quickly clarified that this version of Buzz isn't the one that we've known over the last few decades. That said, it's unclear how long Evans is expected to voice this version of Buzz after this solo movie. 

Buzz in the trailer for Lightyear

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

The Movie Will Tell The Definitive Origin Story Of Buzz Lightyear, The Hero Who Inspired The Toy

When Lightyear was announced, there were understandably some questions about the movie. Were we getting a spin-off centered around Buzz Lightyear, the co-star of four Toy Story movies, or the man who inspired the toy? Perhaps expecting this initial puzzlement, Disney was quick to note that this animated movie would be centered around the futuristic space hero who inspired the toy, not the miniature model that we've known in the past.

While this variation of the character won't be a huge departure from the Buzz we know, it should be made clear that Disney/Pixar is telling the definitive origin story of the space ranger character, not the self-involved plastic plaything, at the core of this otherwise toy-based franchise.

More details have since been released about the film, from the official website, saying that the story of Lightyear would follow the legendary star commander as he, alongside new recruits, travel the cosmos together on a dangerous adventure that leads them to the evil emperor, Zurg, where they have to work as a team to survive.

Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton in Finding Dory

(Image credit: Disney / Pixar)

Lightyear Is Directed By Finding Dory’s Angus MacLane

Angus MacLane might not be a household name like Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton, but he's been a veteran of the pioneering animation company for well over two decades. First working as an animator on A Bug's Life and Toy Story 2, MacLane has risen the ranks into directing over the past few years, notably with his work on Toy Story Toons: Small Fry and Toy Story of Terror. In 2016, the veteran employee co-directed Finding Dory alongside Stanton, and now, MacLane will finally make a Pixar movie of his own with Lightyear.  

Woody and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story

(Image credit: Pixar)

Pete Docter Has Wanted To Make This Movie Since The First Toy Story

Buzz Lightyear has been a core character in Pixar's foundation since the very beginning. The springy, laser-pointing, outer space-bound would-be ranger is one of Pixar's most memorable and marketable personalities, and it was always a desire on Pete Docter's part to give the guy his own space-ranging adventure. During Lightyear's presentation in December's Disney Investor Event (via Pixar Post), the studio head claimed that the company has been eager to tell the character's origin story from the early get-go, and he's grateful to finally have this opportunity with this movie. Here's what Docter said: 

At first glance, you might think, 'this is a Toy Story film.' Well, not so fast! See, back when we created the first Toy Story, we designed Buzz Lightyear with the idea that he was a toy based on some really cool character from an epic blockbuster film. Well, all these years later we decided it's time to make that film.

The cast of Lightyear.

(Image credit: Pixar)

Lightyear Has An Impressive Cast List

When it was first announced that Lightyear was coming out, the only official cast member that was announced with it was Chris Evans, who was set to voice the titular character. But since then, several other big names have signed onto the new Pixar tale, and many that you might recognize. 

Several other names such as Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, Uzo Aduba, James Brolin and more are going to be jumping onto the intergalactic adventure. Palmer will voice Izzy Hawthorne, Waititi will voice Mo Morrison, Dale Soules will voice Darby Steel, Uzo Aduba will voice Alisha Hawthorne, James Brolin will voice the evil Zurg, and Peter Sohn will voice Sox - that cute little robot cat in the trailers. 

It’s surely going to be a fun summer 2022 for many of these stars. Evans also has The Gray Man releasing on Netflix alongside Ryan Gosling, Keke Palmer will be in Jordan Peele’s Nope, Taiki Waitit is directing the latest Thor film, Thor: Love and Thunder - yup, truly a summer 2022 that people won’t forget about for these awesome Lightyear co-stars. 

Buzz Lightyear sneaking around in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Disney/Pixar)

Lightyear Isn’t The First Solo Story For The Famous Pixar Character

Lightyear isn't the first time we've gone to infinity and beyond with the galaxy-famous astronaut. In addition to leading every Toy Story movie, Buzz Lightyear was also the main character behind UPN/ABC's animated series, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, as well as the direct-to-video spin-off movie, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, and an accompanying video game for the short-lived series. Similar to Lightyear, the 2D animated show followed the intergalactic adventures of Buzz Lightyear, the space ranger, opposed to the action figure that fans know and love. That said, it's unknown if this movie and this 2000s cartoon show will cover similar ground.

Buzz in Toy Story 4.

(Image credit: Pixar)

Pixar's New Movie Is Produced By Toy Story 4’s Galyn Susman

From the early days of Pixar, Galyn Susman has been a key player in the ever-growing success of the company. Starting as a lighting supervisor and modeling artist on the original Toy Story, the company's mainstay would continue to work on A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo in a number of professional positions before she was elevated to associate producer on Ratatouille. From there, Susman would be creatively involved in several short films and TV specials, including Angus MacLane's BURN-E and Toy Story of Terror, before she became the producer behind Toy Story 4.

Now, Galyn Susman will continue her influence with Lightyear, her biggest project yet.

Sox in Lightyear.

(Image credit: Pixar)

Check Out The Trailer For Lightyear

If you haven’t seen the trailer for Lightyear yet, be sure to check it out before you head to the theaters to prepare yourself for all the space-goodness. 

It’s not that long now that Lightyear will soar into theaters, and hopefully you’re just as excited as we are to see this new story of one of the most famous Pixar characters ever. No matter what, we will surely be flying into infinity and beyond.  

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.