There’s been a bit of an excited buzz in the last few days, following the apparent confirmation from Pixar themselves that their films share a universe. As your resident Grim Reaper, I’m here to crush that belief, and insist that for Dory to meet Woody would be the worst idea since the Doctor briefly landed the TARDIS in Walford in 1993.
For a start, I think that calling the clip released on Toy Story‘s Facebook page yesterday ‘confirmation’ of a Pixar shared world is widely incorrect. The video, entitled ‘Pixar’s Easter Eggs’, simply points out the fun nods the films make to one another – Cars featuring a car-version of the tapestry featured in Brave, or the shadow of Up‘s Doug in Ratatouille, far from confirm that they all exist in one universe. In fact, if anything, they complicate it further. What would Doug be doing in Paris, and where’s his iconic voice disappeared to? When did humans become vehicles between Brave and Cars, and why are Merida and her family still so well remembered? A far more reasonable explanation of these fun Easter eggs is that they are just that – the design team at Pixar working in fun little nods to past films they have worked on.
Some news sites seem to have got themselves very excited (Digital Spy, I’m looking at you) with the idea that Pixar want to confirm the very crazy yet brilliantly thought up ‘Pixar Theory’, which actually gives tangible reasons to how all the Pixar films are set in the same universe. Oh, and also, it’s all some poetic metaphor for the dangers of oil companies destroying the Earth, to the point toys gain life, and eventually humans flee Earth, leaving characterful cars to dominate the planet. I don’t mean to knock the work of the ingenious individual that thought up this colourful, if completely implausible story (seriously, spoiler alert, but Boo somehow ends up becoming the witch in Brave), but there are so many Easter eggs also thrown into Pixar films which make no sense. A.K.A., how did Doug turn up in Ratatouille? The answer: because some animator wanted him there. And because they probably had his design template on hand.
But there’s a whole other level to this scrutiny; why would we even want a Pixar shared universe? These are brilliant standalone films and franchises, whose key success are their individuality from each other, even between the original films and their sequels. Take Finding Nemo, for example. The first film is a poignant tale about a father’s self-discovery as he journeys across the ocean to save his son; but Finding Dory turns that idea on its head, with Dory taking the spotlight in trying to find out where she came from. Unlike many, many other production companies, Pixar strives not to just make the same movies over and over again. While Cars tells a fable about the advantages of being humble, Toy Story is all about accepting newcomers, and Up is about letting people in.
What’s the end goal to a Pixar shared universe, anyway? A ‘Pixar Cinematic Universe’; Marvel-esque, where we eventually introduce different characters from different films into one? WALL-E travelling back in time to help Merida fight Lotso from Toy Story? Boo going all ‘Nick Fury’ to bring everyone together into a massive universe defending team? No, thanks. I’m pretty sick of Marvel, and D.C., and apparently Men In Black and Jump Street (?!), thinking that everyone’s gonna love it when their favourite characters meet up, clash amongst themselves for a bit, before ultimately becoming besties to fight a greater foe. And can you imagine what dimension would have to exist to even have Dory, Lightning McQueen, Sully, Merida, WALL-E and Buzz and Woody in the same room together? No, no, Pixar definitely do not want to touch that with a ten-foot barge pole.
It’s very unlikely Pixar would go near a crossover franchise, especially on such a large scale, even if they did confirm that all the films existed in a shared universe. But unless you’ve heard something else to me, a Facebook ‘Pixar Easter Egg’ video (see below) isn’t gonna convince me that they think anything of the sort.