‘Lightyear’ director says movie is ‘Star Wars’ meets ‘Rip Van Winkle’

Buzz Lightyear
Image via Disney/Pixar

The Toy Story saga is evolving this summer with the arrival of Lightyear. Sidestepping the beloved action figure voiced by Tim Allen, the sci-fi action/adventure movie tells the story of the “real” Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, with Marvel icon Chris Evans taking over as the legendary Space Ranger. And, funnily enough, the film’s take on Buzz will have a lot of similarities with Evans’ most famous role, Captain America.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Lightyear director Angus MacLane, in the wake of the final trailer for the upcoming Pixar flick dropping online this Thursday, with the filmmaker revealing the story’s two big influences. Surprising precisely no one, Star Wars was mentioned, but the second is slightly more unexpected, as MacLane likened this Buzz to classic literary character Rip Van Winkle.

Lightyear is a fish out of water story,” said MacLane. “It‘s like a Rip Van Winkle trapped in a future he doesn’t recognize, desperately trying to get back to the past to correct the mistake of his youth. A hero out of his own time.”

Originating from the 1819 short story of the same name from Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle miraculously fell asleep for 20 years straight and awakened to find himself in a very different world. In the new Lightyear trailer, we saw Buzz venture into a wormhole and emerge 65 years into the future. So MacLane’s Van Winkle comparison is an apt one. However, this situation brings a different character to mind for modern audiences — Steve Rogers, Marvel’s own “hero out of his own time.”

It’s ironic and kind of perfect that Evans is voicing this iteration of Buzz, then, as we know he can play a square-jawed hero who must adjust to being flung into the future better than anyone. While it’ll be impossible to replace Allen in Toy Story fans’ hearts, Evans promises to do a great job as a more grounded and human take on the Space Ranger. Add that to a visually stunning animated movie inspired by Star Wars and we should be onto an all-round winner.

Lightyear speeds into cinemas — not Disney Plus, like other recent Pixar offerings — this June 17.