Lightyear features nods to classic sci-fi movies and pop culture

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toy story debuted in 1995, which places Light year, the movie on which 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 Light year occurs in, and their own favorites inspired some of the Easter eggs found in the film.

Lightyear features nods to classic sci-fi movies and pop culture

In 1995 Andy asked for a toy from his favorite movie, Light year. Light year follows legendary Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) as he finally tries to escape the planet he and his crew have been stranded on for years. Trial after trial, Buzz fails to complete the mention, but when there is finally some hope, another obstacle stands between him and the house. Buzz will have to team up with unlikely allies and take on an army of robots led by none other than Emperor Zurg (James Brolin).

Director and screenwriter Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman were very aware that Light year is a sci-fi movie and that meant some genre-specific elements had to be crossed out. Futuristic ideas? To verify. Space exploration? Recheck. But it also meant they could incorporate some of their favorites into the film, which will be fun for moviegoers to spot while they watch. Oh, and not just science fiction nods, there are also other pop culture Easter eggs that are sure to make you laugh.

RELATED: Lightyear Interview: Casting Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear

lightyear director interview 90s 80s science fiction

Depending on the deadlines, Light year seems to take place in the very early 90s, late 80s, possibly earlier. What characteristics did you borrow from films of the time? Something you wanted to avoid or specifically include?

Angus: This is not meant to be a parody. He doesn’t try to conjure up an obligatory scene and then push it. But I would say there are predictable elements of a superhero story where you would expect things to go a certain way, and we may have twisted them in other ways. I would say it doesn’t buy into ’90s digital effects. We did a lot of genre research to figure out what we wanted to do and tell for the film. And then we tried to embrace those genres and figure out how we would diverge.

Since Andy received Buzz as a birthday present in 1995, when Light year arrive?

Angus: In the movie, he is said to have had a Buzz for his birthday and it was his favorite movie. So I feel like this movie could be from the early 80s to late 70s. It’s probably more his favorite movie that he’s seen on VHS. It’s supposed to be a movie he saw many times growing up. So 70s, 80s, early 90s.

IVAN lightyear easter eggs

I noticed the nod to Nintendo cartridges with IVAN. Will there be any other retro pop culture or specific sci-fi Easter egg fans to watch out for?

Angus: This one is incredibly specific to the limitations of technology of that era. There are references of all kinds of things. The movie is an amalgamation of really, really cheesy specific things that I enjoy. [There’s] more of a feeling of an era. But it’s just a collection of my weirdest obsessions.

Galyne: I think we’re both big science fiction fans. When you constantly watch movies, you can’t help but let them influence you. But we were definitely influenced by the whole design aesthetic of those films, and you know, certain scenes that evoke an emotion that sticks to your skin.

Angus: There’s very little specific stuff, reference stuff to my favorite movie, aliens by James Cameron. There’s a bunch of [references like that] in the movie that will be for deep nerds. But in general, I don’t want to have something that’s so obvious that it might knock them out of the movie. I wanted the audience to feel at the end, “Oh, I’m off on this fun space adventure.”

Light year hits theaters on June 17, 2022.


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