The Buzz Lightyear movie's director explains how it connects to the Toy Story universe

Buzz in Lightyear
(Image credit: Pixar/Disney)

Buzz Lightyear’s standalone movie has a new trailer – and everyone's confused. How, exactly, does Lightyear connect to the Toy Story universe? Presumably, this is the origins story of the space ranger that the toy is based on, right? But then, how come the Earth in Toy Story is not very technologically advanced, yet the one in the Lightyear movie has Buzz slingshotting around the sun? 

Director Angus MacLane has an answer. Kinda. It's complicated.

"'Set in the world of Toy Story' is kind of weird," he told Entertainment Weekly. "Another way to get at it, it's a straightforward sci-fi action film about the Buzz Lightyear character. In the Toy Story universe, it would be like a movie that maybe Andy would have seen, that would have made him want a Buzz Lightyear figure."

"The movie doesn't end and then you see Andy eating popcorn," the filmmaker added. "This is its own thing… This is standalone. It's the Buzz Lightyear movie. It's that character but as the space ranger, not as the toy."

Essentially, it sounds like Lightyear could be seen as a movie within the Toy Story universe that the Buzz Lightyear action figure is based on. Confusingly, though, Chris Evans – who voices this incarnation of Buzz, taking over from Tim Allen – previously said that the Buzz in Lightyear is the origins story of the human Buzz.

"Just to be clear, this isn’t Buzz Lightyear the toy," he tweeted. "This is the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on."

Now that the trailer's out, the internet has decided: this isn't very clear, Chris! But, let's do our best: Lightyear is a fictional movie in the Toy Story universe that tells the story of an imagined space ranger who's potentially partly based on a real in-universe man called Buzz. Maybe? We need another tweet from Evans to clear this one all up – or maybe just confuse things further.

Whatever the case, we'll find out more when Lightyear rockets into cinemas on June 17, 2022. In the meantime, check out our guide to new Disney movies.

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.