Disney's new animated movie Onward doesn't hit theaters until 2020, but we already have a good idea how it might fit into the notorious Pixar Theory. Pixar has been keen to keep story details for Onward under wraps, but as Toy Story 4 nears release, they recently revealed the official movie poster and teaser trailer.
Onward centers on two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who live in a magical suburban world without humans. Instead, they're surrounded by mystical creatures such as mermaids, goblins, sprites, centaurs, and gnomes; their dogs are fire-breathing pet dragons. Ian and Barley decide to go on a journey to find if the world is still full of magic so they can once again see their father who passed away when they were young. The brothers are voiced by MCU stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer are also part of the voice cast.
Based on the rest of the studio's animated movies, it's safe to assume that Onward will have Easter eggs to previous (and future) Pixar outings. This is all fuel for the Pixar Theory (made famous by Jon Negroni), which not only catalogs the connections, but arranges them to posit all Pixar films take place in the same universe; the story goes from the magic of Brave through to humanity's fall in WALL-E, and eventual replacement by (time-traveling) monsters evolved from anthropomorphized animals. And, after analyzing details revealed within Onward's trailer, there might already be clues explaining how the movie fits into the Pixar Theory.
At the beginning of the Onward teaser, the movie states, "in times of old the world was magical, but times change." That line and the title of the movie itself is very telling. It seems as though the suburban town of Mushroomton and the world in which it resides is losing its magic. "Onward" could describe Ian and Barley's quest moving forward with the grief of their father, but it could also relate to the world moving towards a new stage. This loops back to one of the key ideas at the center of the Pixar Theory; that the Witch from Brave is actually a future Boo from Monsters, Inc. trying to return to Sully in the future. Ian and Barley's mission would see them attempting something similar.
But where exactly in the timeline could Onward take place? The trailer makes a big point to show that humans no longer exist, at least not in the typical sense. In WALL-E, humans had left Earth after it was deemed uninhabitable. Per the Pixar Theory, this led to machines taking over and the world of Cars, but also the evolution of anthropomorphized animals into the creatures of Monsters, Inc. Could Onward be the early days of that society?
An alternate idea is that Onward takes place on a totally different planet; two moons can be clearly seen in the sky. This could make the elves and other creatures descendants of other humans, perhaps on ships similar to WALL-E's Axiom. What if a ship crash-landed on a mystical planet, evolving the human race into mythological creatures? Whatever happens in Onward, it will surely add new depth to the Pixar Theory.
- Toy Story 4 (2019) release date: Jun 21, 2019
- Onward (2020) release date: Mar 06, 2020