It has been, let’s say, a long day in the world of entertainment news, largely due to the informational deluge unleashed by the Disney corporation, which apparently decided that Thursday afternoon was a nice time to attempt to lure every single human being on the planet to Disney+, pretty much all at once. In a day that produced Hayden Christensen’s return to Star Wars, an actual, no fuckin’ around Fantastic Four movie, and John Mulaney, professional chipmunk, it would take something pretty special to pierce our weirdness sensors at this point, to make us sit up and say, “Wait, what the fuck?”
Enter Chris Evans.
Specifically, enter Chris Evans in Lightyear, one of a couple of projects that Pixar rolled into today’s avalanche of content this afternoon. “Chris Evans is taking over for Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear for a Buzz Lightyear movie” would already be a pretty weird headline, mind you; Allen is pretty indelibly connected to the part, given that he originated it with 1995's Toy Story. (And, yes, Tim Allen, politics, etc., but that certainly didn’t stop him from teaming up with Disney for Toy Story 4 back in 2019.) But here’s the thing: Chris Evans isn’t playing Buzz Lightyear, living toy, in the Lightyear movie. No, he’s playing the, uh, “human” Buzz Lightyear.
Dear Chris Evans: That is an illegal use of the phrase “just to be clear.”
It took us a second to parse this, so let’s see if we can get it right: Chris Evans is not playing Buzz Lightyear the toy, a fictional character (who has since been turned into a real-world toy, as if that wasn’t weird enough). Instead, he’s playing a fictional real person that the fake toy was then, fictionally, based on, a “young test pilot that became the Space Ranger” we all came to know and love (by proxy, at least, through his toy form). Although, even then, it’s not at all clear who was doing that basing; is Chris Evans playing Buzz Lightyear in a movie that people in the Toy Story movies go see, and then buy dolls about? (And which is then being imported up another level of the Dark Tower to our world?) Could the “human” Buzz Lightyear go buy a “toy” Buzz Lightyear doll? Would the toy still sound like Tim Allen? If we look on the bottom of our feet right now, are we going to see “Andy” written there in red marker? What, functionally, is the difference between a Toy Story living toy cowboy, and one of those spooky Westworld hosts?
Amazingly, this isn’t the first time the Toy Story franchise has toyed with this heady metaphysical broth; this same subtext drove many a third grader to madness with the 2000-era animated show Buzz Lightyear Of Star Command, which also posited Buzz Lightyear as a “real” person you could then base a toy off of. Anyway, it might just be because we’ve written the words “Star Wars Marvel movie Whoopi” 8,000 times today, but this whole conundrum is starting to make our brains leak out of our ears. If only we had a hero to save us, a daring test pilot capable of existing at, like, three different points across the fourth wall simultaneously. Help us, Chris-Evans-but-he’s-playing-Buzz-Lightyear-no-not-that-Buzz-Lightyear-the-real-one-but-yeah-no-okay-he’s-still-fake-but-in-a-different-way: You’re our only hope.