Toy Story debuted in 1995, which places Lightyear, the movie the Buzz Lightyear toy is based, in the 80s or very early 90s, maybe even earlier. Director Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman shared how the era Lightyear occurs in, and their own favorites inspired some of the Easter eggs found in the film.
Lightyear Features Nods to Classic Sci-Fi Films & Pop Culture
In 1995 Andy asked for a toy from his favorite movie, Lightyear. Lightyear follows the legendary Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) as he attempts to finally escape the planet he and his crew have been stuck on for years. Trial after trial prevents Buzz from finishing the mention, but when there is finally some hope another obstacle stands between him and home. Buzz will have to team-up with some unlikely allies and face off against a robot army led by none other than Emperor Zurg (James Brolin).
Director and screenwriter Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman were very conscious that Lightyear is a science fiction film and that meant certain genre specific items needed to be crossed off. Futuristic ideas? Check. Space exploration? Double check. But it also meant they could incorporate some of their favorites into the film, which will be fun for movie fans to spot as they watch. Oh, and not just Sci-fi nods, there are other pop culture Easter eggs in there too that are guaranteed to make you laugh.
Based on timelines, Lightyear would seem to take place in the very early 90s, late 80s, maybe sooner. What characteristics did you take from films of the era? Anything that you wanted to avoid or specifically include?
Angus: It's not intended to be a parody. It's not trying to bring up an obligatory scene, and then poke at it. But I would say that there are predictable elements of a superhero story where you would expect things to go a certain way, and we've maybe twisted them in other ways. I would say it doesn't adhere to the digital effects of the 90s. We did a lot of genre research to figure out what we wanted to do and tell for the movie. And then we tried to adhere to those genres and figure out how we would diverge.
Since Andy got Buzz as a birthday present in 1995, when does Lightyear happen?
Angus: In the film, we say he got a Buzz for his birthday and this was his favorite movie. So I actually feel like this movie might be early 80s, late 70s. It's more like his favorite movie that he saw on VHS probably. It's meant to be a movie that he saw a bunch of times growing up. So, 70s, 80s, early 90s.
I noticed the nod to the Nintendo cartridges with IVAN. Will there be other throwback pop culture or other specific Sci-fi easter eggs fans should watch out for?
Angus: That one is incredibly specific to the limitations of the technology of that era. There are references from all sorts of things. The movie is an amalgam of really, really, nerdy specific things that I enjoy. [There's] more of a feeling of an era. But it's just a collection of my weirdest obsessions.
Galyn: I think that we're both big sci-fi fans. When you watch movies constantly, you can't help but have them influence you. But we were certainly influenced by all the design aesthetics of these films, and you know, certain scenes that evoke an emotion that sticks with you.
Angus: There are very few specific things, referential stuff to my favorite movie, Aliens from James Cameron. There's a bunch of [references like that] in the movie that will be for the deep nerds. But in general I don't want to have something that's so obvious that it can pull them out of the movie. I wanted the audience to have the feeling at the end of it “Oh, I've gone on this fun space adventure.”
Lightyear is coming to theaters June 17, 2022.