Lightyear trailer reveals the film's villain – and Toy Story fans will be happy

Buzz Lightyear and his robot cat companion Sox fly into the sky in Pixar's Lightyear movie.
Lightyear will feature a very familiar face as the Pixar movie's villain. (Image credit: Disney Pixar)

The official trailer for Lightyear has blasted onto our screens – and it confirms the identity of the film's main villain.

Released on Thursday, April 21, the latest teaser for Pixar's next animated movie (one of our most anticipated movies of 2022 to boot) is full of sci-fi action, humorous quips, and a better look at what its time-travel plot will entail.

The biggest surprise, though, is reserved for the trailer's latter moments, with the revelation that Emperor Zurg – yep, Buzz Lightyear's infamous adversary – will appear in the film. Suffice to say, we're even more excited for Lightyear's arrival than we were before.

Take a look at the official trailer below:

For the uninitiated: Emperor Zurg was the big bad (from a toy perspective, anyway) in 1999's Toy Story 2. In that Pixar flick, the toy version of Buzz Lightyear accidentally releases an Emperor Zurg action figure, who pursues Buzz and company in a bid to destroy his human (or, rather, toy) foe.

Later on in the movie, Buzz, Zurg, and another Buzz engage in battle, only for Rex to inadvertently knock Zurg down an elevator shaft, thus winning the day. Before that fight occurs, however, Zurg reveals himself to be the father of Buzz – a comical nod to the revelation that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

But we digress. It's clear that Emperor Zurg is a real-life entity in the Pixar movie universe, as we can clearly see the antagonistic robot overlord at the 1:57 mark in Lightyear's latest trailer:

Emperor Zurg takes aim at Buzz Lightyear in the latter's standalone Pixar movie

Emperor Zurg will do battle with Buzz Lightyear in the latter's standalone Pixar movie. (Image credit: Disney Pixar)

We also see Zurg grab Buzz with one of his hands – via an extendable arm – a few seconds later, too. Clearly, then, the pair will engage in a battle to the death in the third act. And, providing that they do, we wouldn't be surprised if this showdown is the inspiration for the Buzz Lightyear line of toys that we see in the Toy Story franchise.

Lightyear will see former Marvel movie star Chris Evans voice the titular character, with the Pixar flick exploring the origins of the iconic Space Ranger and an inaugural space test flight that goes awry. The supposedly four-minute experiment sees Buzz thrown 67 years into the future, where he must team up with other human survivors to stop Zurg from threatening the safety of the universe.

Lightyear will also star Keke Palmer (Izzy Hawthorne), Taika Waititi (Mo Morrison), Uzo Aduba (Alisha Hawthorne), James Brolin (Zurg), and Peter Sohn (Sox) among others. The film is expected to debut exclusively in theaters on June 17.

For more Pixar-based content, check out our chat with the director and producer for Turning Red, or read up on why we think Ratatouille is the king of Pixar movies.

Analysis: will Lightyear actually launch in theaters?

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Surreal as it may be to say, Lightyear will be the first Pixar movie to launch exclusively in theaters since Onward (in March 2020), if its release strategy isn't altered in the near future.

While Onward just about made its theatrical release before the ongoing pandemic's initial arrival, the three Pixar films that followed weren't so lucky. Soul was released exclusively on Disney Plus in December 2020, while Luca suffered a similar fate when it arrived in June 2021. Given the dangers posed by Covid-19, though, Disney and Pixar had to do away with their theatrical runs in favor of a home release.

Turning Red, Pixar's most recent animated feature, was expected to end that streaming service release strategy ahead of its March 2022 launch. However, just two months before its release, Disney announced that Turning Red would also arrive exclusively on Disney Plus, much to the chagrin of Pixar employees. Clearly, it was a sore subject, with executive producer Lindsey Collins exclusively telling TechRadar that the 11th-hour switch-up "kind of sucked".

All eyes, then, are on whether Lightyear will actually launch in theaters. Given that the film will arrive during the summer months (in the northern hemisphere, at least), the threat posed by Covid-19 isn't considered to be as great as it would be in the winter. With life returning to some semblance of normality in recent months, many fans will expect (and hope) that Lightyear is available to watch on the big screen.

With Lightyear positioned as something of a Toy Story prequel, we'd be surprised if Disney and Pixar elect not to release this particular movie, given it's tied to the latter's most well-known franchise, in cinemas worldwide. Hopefully, we won't be sitting here in two months' time preparing to stream it on Disney Plus, instead.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

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