The latest trailer for Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3 teases a bitter rivalry between Lightning McQueen and his next-generation racing nemesis Jackson Storm. The first Cars 3 trailer showed that Owen Wilson’s Lightning McQueen is firmly back in the driving seat on this franchise, after his loveable sidekick Mater took pole position in Cars 2 – and that the series is going back to its racing roots for the climactic chapter of Lightning McQueen’s run. Cars 3 picks up at the tail-end of his sparkling racing career, which is almost brought to an early close thanks to a spectacular crash on the track.
Cars 3 follows McQueen and a host of new characters, as the many-time Piston Cup Champion struggles to get back into a competition that is quickly leaving him behind. He finds his ultimate rival in Jackson Storm, a high-tech nemesis that threatens to consign McQueen to the scrapheap.
The latest Cars 3 trailer (see the video above) teases a classic sporting story of a veteran struggling to keep up with younger competition. There’s an element of role reversal here, as Jackson Storm is described as the “rookie sensation” and Lightning McQueen is forced to watch the glitzy newcomer overtake and goad him on the track. Yet, there’s still life in the champ as he takes to new training methods and old in order to give himself one last chance at glory.
There’s a definite sense of pastiche in Cars 3‘s comeback tale that shows how the franchise is pairing back from the wider universe of Cars 2 and its espionage plot to return to the grounded story of the racetrack. The marketing for Cars 3 thus far may suggest that the franchise is turning in a new direction, given its more sombre tone, but it seems as though audiences will at least see some familiar landmarks along the way.
There’re still plenty of laughs to be had however, with even chief-antagonist Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) providing a gag at McQueen’s expense. Given Disney’s recent attempts to humanize their antagonists and provide reasonable explanations for their motivations, it’s difficult to tell whether or not Storm will play the role of out-and-out villain. He is, after all, the sort of entitled rookie that McQueen himself once was, and he provides the impetus for the once Champion to return to racing better than ever.
Yet, Disney’s shown a penchant for going against its own conventions in a multitude of ways in recent films. The dramatic marketing for Cars 3 might seem to foreshadow the sort of comeback story movie fans have become accustomed to since the Rocky franchise, but it could just as easily hint at the disappointing retirement of a beloved character. Disney is traditionally known for its neat, happy endings, but this new rivalry could culminate in a less-typical happily ever after. It’s been suggested that McQueen’s new trainer Cruz Ramirez is the future of the Cars franchise going forward – and what better way to set up her racing story than a bold Lightning McQueen loss at the end of Cars 3?