I remember being mildly intrigued at the concept of Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear when I first heard about the movie while it was still in development, and slightly more so when the trailer was released. The movie was said to be an origin story for the “real-life” character Buzz Lightyear, inspired by the toy Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story universe. I vaguely recall thinking I’d probably want to see it—and see it in theatres. However, my intrigue about Lightyear was fleeting, and it quickly was categorized as one of those movies I’d wait to see on streaming. I loved the Toy Story movies… well, the first three, anyway. The fourth one… didn’t care for it.
I recall being curious if actor/comedian Tim Allen would voice Buzz Lightyear in the new movie. I didn’t assume he would because the character is not really the same as the one from the Toy Story movies. Eventually, it seemed to make sense that a different voice ought to be used to help differentiate the “real life” version of the character and the toy version. So, when word got out that Buzz Lightyear in the movie would be voiced by liberal actor Chris Evans, many on the right immediately assumed that Tim Allen had been snubbed because he’s one of the rare Hollywood conservatives.
In fairness to my friends on the right, Disney has given us plenty of reason to believe they’d snubbed Allen over politics. Gina Carano was fired by Disney over her conservative politics. And Disney has been proudly displaying its wokeness, be it through its embrace of critical race theory, or pushing an LGBTQ agenda to kids through its movies.
“People were having a hard enough time wrapping their heads around this,” LIghtyear producer Galyn Susman explained. “So really we needed the toy in the ‘Toy Story’’ universe to be its own thing. Tim Allen is Buzz Lightyear the toy. Chris Evans is Buzz Lightyear, the superhero from that movie that inspired the toy.”
I get that. That sounds legit to me. It’s a different version of the character so it doesn’t need to have the same voice. I certainly can’t blame Disney for thinking a different voice would help distinguish between the two franchises and characters.
Disney has given us plenty of reason to believe Tim Allen not being cast to voice this version of Buzz Lightyear was a political slight.
There are other reasons to give Disney the benefit of the doubt on this. Toy Story 4 was released in 2019, smack dab in the middle of the Trump era, and it’s not like they recast Tim Allen in that movie. Perhaps the biggest reason to believe politics had nothing to do with Tim Allen not being cast as the voice of Buzz Lightyear is that Tim Allen will appear in the forthcoming Disney+ miniseries The Santa Clause, in which Allen will reprise the role he first played in the 1994 movie.
Disney deserves plenty of criticism for what it did to Gina Carano, but Tim Allen not being cast as the voice of Buzz Lightyear in this new movie does not appear to be a comparable situation.
And frankly, considering Lightyear’s terrible performance at the box office, Disney probably did Tim Allen a favor anyway.