*** WARNING: Spoilers Ahead For Lightyear ***
Buzz Lightyear has once again found his way into theaters, this time in the very same space-faring sci-fi adventure that a young Andy became obsessed with as a child. Lightyear lends new mythology to the eponymous character, fleshing out his fictional world and expanding the Toy Story franchise.
Lightyear throws Buzz into a brand-new environment, alongside a cast of new characters who either help or hinder him throughout his journey. While some of these characters endear themselves to the audience throughout the film, others can not quite work up that level of likability.
Buzz Lightyear’s signature arch-nemesis, the evil Emperor Zurg, is portrayed by veteran actor James Brolin, who has had a long and impressive career prior to Lightyear. The Zurg depicted in this film comes with a major twist, however, as he is revealed to be a version of Buzz from the future, intent on fixing his past mistakes by any means necessary.
As the primary antagonist of the film, Zurg does not come off as a particularly pleasant personality, exemplifying all of Buzz Lightyear’s worst qualities. In the end, Zurg’s fear of failure is exactly what Buzz must learn to overcome, sacrificing the one thing he has repeatedly risked his life for in order to save the day.
9 Commander Burnside
Isaiah Whitlock Jr. portrays Commander Burnside, the leader of the marooned colony following the death of Alicia Hawthorne. He suspends Buzz’s missions to space, having given up on the settlers ever making it back home, and later leads the defensive tactics of his settlement when Zurg attacks with his robot army.
Burnside makes a bad first impression at his introduction, pulling the rug out from beneath Buzz’s feet and forcefully insisting that he give up his mission. While Burnside would eventually be proven right, his tactics are often less than friendly, with the character often coming off as irritable. Burnside’s enthusiasm over his pet project, the laser wall, does lend some humor to the character, keeping him from complete unlikability.
Diaz is a flight-deck commander from Buzz Lightyear’s early days. Voiced by Efren Ramirez, Diaz is enthusiastic, energetic, and a big fan of Lightyear. As Buzz continues his missions to achieve light speed once more, Diaz ages along with the rest of the planet-bound community, eventually passing away during one of Buzz’s excursions.
Though he only appears in the early scenes of Lightyear, Diaz lends levity to the first act that helps balance out the darker themes of isolation and failure that act as the inciting incident of the film. Had he appeared more often throughout, Diaz would undoubtedly have become a stand-out favorite among the cast.
Like many other science-fiction films that take place in space, the ships in Lightyear run on an automated piloting system, known as IVAN With a voice provided by Mary Lewis, IVAN accompanies Buzz on each of his flights, feeding him data along the way.
The filmmakers take the liberty to have some fun with the concept of a voice-activated system in the film, with IVAN often misunderstanding Buzz’s orders or feeding him pointless exposition, much to his dismay. The navigation computer becomes a fun running gag, almost evolving into a full-blown character in and of herself.
6 Darby Steel
Dale Soules voices the character Darby Steele, an ex-convict that serves as a Junior Patrol Ranger as part of her parole. Steele is excellent with explosives, possessing the ability to turn just about any three items into a bomb, making her both an asset and extremely dangerous.
Steele’s character is primarily used as comedic relief, as her absurd personality often lends itself to hilarious situations. Grouchy and sarcastic, Steele often argues with Hawthorne and Morrison, yet would do anything for her friends, loathe as she would have to admit it.
5 Alicia Hawthorne
Alicia Hawthorne was the Space Ranger in charge of the failed settlement mission and Buzz Lightyear’s best friend. After being stranded on a deserted planet, Alicia made a life for herself, settling down and starting a family. She dies of natural causes during one of Buzz’s space missions, having decided to live her life rather than waste it searching for an escape.
Alicia’s character represents everything that Buzz has to learn throughout his journey in Lightyear, having figured out exactly how to make the most of her unfavorable situation. She consistently looked out for her friend, even when she disagreed with his tactics, knowing that he had to learn how to be truly happy for himself.
4 Mo Morrison
Taika Watiti voices the hilarious Junior Space Ranger Mo Morrison, a character who deserves a Pixar spinoff of his own. Mo struggles with his place in the world, often failing at his various endeavors. He and his comrades team up with Buzz Lightyear after his return to fight the evil Emperor Zurg.
Much like Taika Waititi’s other characters, Mo is a lovable fellow, if not the most intelligent of his group. His humor, whether intentional or not, is always good for cutting through a tense moment, making him an audience favorite as the plot plays out. Ultimately, Mo is a character that many fans will want to see more of should the Lightyear franchise continue.
3 Buzz Lightyear
Buzz Lightyear is a by-the-book Space Ranger whose mistake caused his entire crew to become stranded on a desert planet. After his very public error, Buzz works tirelessly to find a way to get the settlement back to civilization, ignoring his own personal life to do so. In this film, Chris Evans takes over the voice role of Lightyear from Tim Allen, who portrayed the character in all four. Toy Story films.
As the protagonist of the story, Buzz is a character that fans immediately relate to, having already come to know his character from his appearances in the Toy Story franchise. However, Evans’s version has clear character faults that he must take care of as the film progresses, learning the value of teamwork and patience in his endeavors. In the end, Buzz grows into the intensely likable character that fans know and love.
2 Izzy Hawthorne
Izzy Hawthorne is a Junior Patrol Ranger and the granddaughter of Alicia Hawthorne. Voiced by Keke Palmer, who will appear next month in Nopeyet another highly-anticipated summer blockbuster, Izzy must overcome her astrophobia in order to help Buzz defeat Zurg and save her people from utter destruction.
Izzy’s enthusiasm and courage make her one of the best new characters in Lightyear. She consistently proves herself to be willing to face her fears, learn from her mistakes, and make a difference, just like her grandmother did. Ultimately, she lives up to the legacy of her family, earning her place among the Space Rangers and in fans’ hearts.
Peter Sohn plays Sox, the robotic therapy cat given to Buzz by Alicia in order to help him deal with the aftereffects of his time dilation. Sox later accompanies Buzz and the Junior Patrol Rangers in their battle against Zurg, acting as a major aid during the mission.
Sox is an absolute delight throughout the film, whose matter-of-fact way of speaking lends itself to plenty of running jokes that always stick the landing thanks to Sohn’s brilliant voice work. Not only is Sox surprisingly cute and cuddly for a robot, he also has a vast array of tools and even weaponry at his disposal, making him a tremendous asset for the team as they embark on their perilous mission. Ultimately, Sox became one of the most valuable – and most lovable – characters in Lightyear.
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