How Does ‘Lightyear’ Fit into Franchise Continuity? Fandom Explained

Images: Disney/Pixar

This week, we received another fan letter about the wonderful world of movies and pop culture. Let’s check it out!

Dear Marvelous Movies,
I watched Lightyear on DisneyPlus with my kid, and I was majorly disappointed! It didn’t make sense with the previous movies at all. I grew up with Toy Story 2 and the animated Buzz Lightyear of Star Command from the early 2000s, but they’ve completely disregarded those stories and changed Evil Emperor Zurg. Is Lightyear supposed to fit into the same continuity–and, if so, how?
Evan Patrick of Denver, CO

Thanks for writing in, Evan! This is definitely a confusing time for franchise fans, but we’re here to explain everything with this completely verifiable and not-just-totally-made-up fan theory!

You’re right that Lightyear changed a lot of the franchise lore. Buzz’s original crew from the old series–Mira Nova, Booster, and XR–were replaced in this movie by Izzy, Darby, and Taika Waititi. And having Zurg turn out to be evil Buzz from the future was really an odd choice. (No, we’re not making this up for comedy. That’s really what they did!)

I mean, what do they think this is–The Flash season 3? Whether it’s Barry or Tim, it seems like those Allens are always messing up the timeline!

But here’s the thing. The intro to Lightyear says that this is the movie Andy saw in 1995 that his Buzz Lightyear toy came from. So this is already a movie within a movie–a frame narrative within the Toy Story universe. So our theory is that, within this fictional universe, the Buzz Lightyear marketing department realized the movie didn’t work well. The hero also being the villain was confusing to kids. Also, having a black lesbian protagonist really didn’t test well with family audiences back in 1995. It’s almost as if someone in 2022 made a very modern movie and just tried to pretend it would have worked back in the ’90s!

So, to make the franchise more accessible to kids, our fictional marketing department put out an animated movie and series, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, that was way better than the original movie! You know, kind of how there was that Last Airbender movie that everyone hated, but then they made a cartoon show based on it, and it was a huge hit!

Image: Disney

And they made the Buzz Lightyear toy line consistent with the show! Instead of being a twisted version of the hero, Zurg was a much more cartoonish Darth Vader parody. And instead of Buzz’s team being just four regular humans, they added in robots and aliens–you know, characters who kids would actually like! Crazy, right?

When you think about it, this theory explains a few other important things too. For example, within this fictional universe, Disney saw that Chris Evans did a great job of voicing a time-displaced military man back in 1995, so they recruited him 15 years later to be Captain America!

Also, Zurg as a thinly veiled Star Wars parody was so popular that Disney later decided to buy Lucasfilm so they could make a whole trilogy of Star Wars parody movies, which today we know as the sequel trilogy!

So, there you have it, Evan! A completely logical and non-contrived explanation for how the continuity works. It’s all connected, right?

Have a question for Marvelous Movies? Send us your questions, and we’ll keep making up ridiculous explanations fraught with obscure pop culture references. I mean, answer them.

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