Lightyear (2022) Themes & Ending Explained: After 2019’s surprisingly heartfelt “Toy Story 4”, Pixar’s latest “Lightyear” is a spinoff film based on the beloved character of Buzz Lightyear. The film opened last weekend with average-good reviews and has already started fans buzzing over the possibilities of more spinoffs in the future.

Pixar films are often multilayered pieces of art that long live their status, and the Toy Story franchise is no different. All those films revolved around the themes of finding one’s own true worth and adapting to new circumstances in life while accepting one’s own limitations. “Lightyear” is no different. In fact, it harkens back to the core value that the almost three-decade franchise has empathized on- that of coming across a found family. Let’s take a detailed look at the first solo outing of everyone’s favorite Space Ranger.

When an overconfident Buzz accidentally damages the ship and strands it on a livable planet, he later finds out that it’s filled with hostile lifeforms. The crew of scientists then aboard as they’re left with no choice but to build a colony on what they call ‘Tikana Prime.’ Meanwhile, Buzz spends most of the first act taking test missions using hyperspace fuel as it’s the only possible way to get the crew back to Earth.

Before we deep dive into article – ‘Lightyear Ending Explained’, spoiler warning ahead.

Why Chris Evans Voiced Lightyear

Toy Story’s Andy received Buzz Lightyear in the year 1995. The movie is not specified as from that year. It is actually from somewhere around 1985, around a decade earlier. So, Andy grew up watching “Lightyear”, as the film addresses to us how it was the same movie that we are about to watch. A few weeks back, Pixar’s official Twitter account for the Lightyear movie shared an image of Andy watching the Buzz Lightyear movie in a movie theater. So, Chris Evans voices Lightyear’s Buzz and Tim Allen voices Toy Story’s Buzz because the movie character had a different voice cast. The Buzz we get in “Lightyear” is not a toy but a cartoon character in Andy’s favorite movie- the one that inspired him to buy a Buzz Lightyear action figure of his very own. Here, Buzz must first prove his mettle as the ineffable Space Ranger to win over our feelings. We see him travel through time, find new friends, and defend a whole band of humans against his sworn enemy- Emperor Zurg.

Lightyear (2022) Themes & Ending Explained

How Emperor Zurg Became an Older Buzz

After having realized that he’s stuck in the loop of time dilation, Buzz one day learns that his best friend Alisha has passed away. Soon, he teams up with a ragtag group of the colony’s defense forces, including Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), the incompetent yet charming Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), and paroled convict Darby Steel (Dale Soules) to defeat Zurg and save the colony. In the last act of the film, we come across the big reveal- Zurg captures Buzz and reveals to him that he is actually *drum rolls* Buzz himself, but an older, cynical alternate Buzz from a different branching timeline that was created during the space ranger’s successful hyperspeed flight while landing on Tikana Prime.

When Did Older Buzz Create a Divergent Timeline?

One major question a viewer might have during the big reveal regarding Lightyear’s surprise villain is how the time-traveling mechanics of it all work in the first place. Since we follow “our” Buzz (the younger one), the whole movie only to discover at a certain point that there is an older version of himself walking around, which of them is the ‘original’ Buzz? The answer again lies with Buzz the Elder, who we learn via flashback created the divergent timelines by traveling backward in time from his dark future.

Also, Read – Lightyear [2022] Review: A Small Scale Film For A Big And Grandeur Space Ranger

How does Buzz Defeat Zurg?

While Buzz hears Old Buzz talk about his desire to course-correct his life, Izzy, Mo, Darby, and Sox (easily the best new character in the film) sneak aboard Zurg’s vessel and launch a counterattack to rescue Young Buzz. The latter finally snatches back the hyperspace fuel crystal from his future self in an epic showdown, and a fierce chase and fight begin, ending with the destruction of Emperor Zurg’s giant ship.

The latter escapes and the only way for Our Buzz to stop Old Buzz from sabotaging the team’s vessel is to jettison the remaining hyperspace fuel, seemingly killing Old Buzz. So he blows up his ship and returns back to the alien planet of Tikana to begin training the next generation of space cadets, including Izzy.

Lightyear (2022) Ending Explained

The driving motivation for Older Buzz was that he wanted to warp speed elixir so he could return to the past and stop the version of the future he’s in from ever happening, irrespective of the consequences. But the younger Buzz knows that going back will erase everyone, including Izzy and everything he’s grown to love. While Alisha never got to be a space ranger again, she had a happy life and family while marooned. Buzz did not want to take that away from her. And he realizes he shouldn’t blame himself. Hence, the deeply ingrained value of family and of found family that the Toy Story franchise has been toying our emotions with comes full circle here as well.

After arriving on the alien planet, Buzz and his team are welcomed back as heroes by Commander Burnside, who offers Buzz a new job as a space ranger and allows him to keep his now-seasoned team as his crew. Finally free of his guilt and for the first time learning of his limitations, Buzz puts aside his obsession with getting back to Earth. He accepts the colony’s life on Tikana and finds clarity in his life as he agrees with the mission, heading out to “infinity and beyond” on a new exploration mission as the credits roll.

Possibilities for a sequel

After two comedic yet throwaway mid-credits scenes, the very last thing we see at the movie’s end is Old Buzz floating lifelessly in space in his Zurg suit, which suddenly powers back up. It stands to reason that if “Lightyear” was a hit in its universe, sequels must exist too. It surely would have then been a profit-maximizing one as well. The cast and crew have even hinted at the possibilities of their multiple existing spinoffs in the same universe.

Lightyear Official Trailer


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