Lightyear’s Ending Makes Tim Allen Snub Even Worse


ATTENTION: The article contains spoilers for Lightyear.

The dramatic turn in Lightyear only exacerbates Disney Pixar’s apparent dismissive attitude towards original Buzz actor Tim Allen. A kind of origin story of Buzz Lightyear’s favorite doll from Toy Story, Lightyear claims to be the 1995 blockbuster in which this character appeared. The real blockbuster of 1995, which gave birth to Buzz Lightyear and the subsequent fascination with toys, was, of course, “Toy Story”. The film with Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear and Tom Hanks as Woody shows the rivalry and possible friendship between the two toys. It spawned three sequels, each of which was carefully thought out by Pixar to not just cash in on the success of the first film. Pixar’s Toy Story films have a strong narrative line that reflects both the process of growing up and even the trajectory of Woody’s career from star employee to bounty hunting and his long and happy life after retirement.

Lightyear doesn’t have the same universally reliable thematic core—instead, it looks more like a Disney+ exclusive than a real cinematic movie from the Toy Story series. In many ways, the absence of Tim Allen is the least of the film’s problems, especially since the choice of Chris Evans for the role of the “real” Buzz Lightyear makes a lot of sense, given the similarity of the character to the overgrown Boy Scout Captain America, also played by Chis Evans. He is younger than Allen, so it makes sense to go in a different direction, especially since in the strange sequence of the film Chris Evans plays a Hollywood actor playing the role of Buzz Lightyear from Pixar. However, there is a key moment in the film that would logically allow Tim Allen to return as a slightly older version of Buzz.

After landing his team in a barren and hostile world, Buzz becomes obsessed with breaking the hyperspace barrier and bringing everyone home. This is a quest in which, due to time dilation, a character misses decades of life in just a few minutes. Eventually, having reached hyperspace, Buzz returns in triumph only to find the planet, and his former team is attacked by a terrifying army of robots led by Zurg, completely different from the version of Toy Story 2. Instead of showing himself to be Buzz’s father, as in the comedic reference to “Star Wars” from “Toy Story 2”, Zurg shows himself to be an older and embittered version of Buzz. This twist would be the perfect opportunity to unexpectedly reveal Tim Allen’s involvement, but instead Zurg/Buzz is voiced by actor James Brolin.

The elder Buzz wants his younger version to help bring everyone home from the planet they landed them on. Initially working together, the young Buzz soon realizes the dark consequences of changing the past. The ending of Lightyear tells how the younger version of Buzz changes the course of his future, accepting his situation, and not dwelling on changing it. Brolin and Evans skillfully capture the nuances and quirks of the characters at the appropriate moments of their lives, but Tim Allen’s iconic game gave birth to them. Therefore, there is a lingering disappointment that he was not given the opportunity to play a darker, more complex version of his beloved character.

Tim Allen voiced Buzz in four Toy Story films and subsequent spin-offs, and the toy was supposedly inspired by this movie without Tim Allen. This retcon suggests that in the Pixar universe, Allen is not a big movie star that viewers see as a Lightyear, he is just a part-time voice actor who provides his skills to provide standard phrases for electronic voice boxes of figurines. This makes Tim Allen’s insult even worse and devalues his outstanding contribution to the success of the Toy Story films.