Pixar has produced some of the most beloved movies of all time, from Toy Story to The Incredibles to Finding Nemo. Pixar’s iconic stories and characters made many turn-of-the-millennium childhoods and young adulthoods, and the stunning visuals of the movies have left an imprint on the minds of a generation.
Although it now seems like the Pixar films could never be any other way, they were rarely anything like the final versions fans know and love. The concept art from the movies’ early development shows different sides of the beloved films, often radically changed before reaching their final cuts.
These early Pixar concept art shows characters completely cut from the story, well-known and well-loved characters with drastically different looks and personalities, amazing scenes that were never shown in the movies, and even entire plotlines that were abandoned over time.
The movies were changed for a host of reasons to make the story work better in some way or to better serve the interests of Disney. The original concepts may have been abandoned, but concept art of these ideas still exists.
The art is a look inside the Pixar movies that could have been, and sometimes the development art shows something even better than what ended up on screen.
Here are the 18 Pixar Concept Art Designs Better Than What We Got.
18. The monster in the Incredibles
This early concept art for The Incredibles seems to have the characters mostly fleshed out. It clearly shows Bob, Helen, Violent, and Dash in their almost-final forms. Now let’s talk about the mutant lion-gorilla in the room.
The fifth member of the Incredibles seems to be Beast from X-Men or the Beast from Beauty and the Beast-– definitely someone referred to as “Beast.”
Concept artist Lou Romano explained, “This is more of a gag drawing. But, when it’s early days anything goes.” However, the intriguing fifth member of the Incredibles poses some interesting questions.
17. Coco’s alternate opening
Coco recently became the latest addition to the collection of “Pixar Movies That Will Make a Theater of Adults Sob Uncontrollably.” The story began with a narration from Miguel, providing some minimal exposition. However, this was not the first opening the director tried.
Director Lee Unkrich explained, “Initially we had a big musical number… a show about Dia de Los Muertos, and we did that as our initial way to kind of educate the audience.”
“Then we had another way of opening the film later on where we started in an old de la Cruz film, and we had a whole opening where we were in a de la Cruz movie and meeting him as a character first and then meeting Miguel and seeing his adoration for this old movie star,” he said.
16. Little Merida practicing archery on horseback
Brave‘s final cut showed us a short scene with the almost unbearably adorable baby Merida. At the opening of the movie, she received the gift of her first bow and got in a little practice before the giant bear broke up the nice family picnic. The movie then cut to the full-fledged archer Merida, capable of performing Legolas-level archery on horseback.
This concept art shows Merida at a different stage than either of the two scenes. Baby Merida – wild, red curls flowing – practices archery on a toy rocking horse.
However, instead of using an actual bow, she seems to be utilizing a musical instrument to shoot projectiles. One can assume this is the scene that inspired the gift of the real bow, and the castle’s breakable objects were never safe again.
15. Squirt’s big role
Crush and Squirt were undoubtedly the highlight of Finding Nemo. The totally chill sea turtles provided exactly the lighthearted, go-with-the-flow attitude Marlin needed. The turtles both had a high Pixar pedigree.
Crush was voiced by the movie’s director, Andrew Stanton. Little Squirt was voiced by Nicholas Bird, the son of fellow Pixar director Brad Bird. However, despite all of this, the turtles were seen relatively little in the final movie.
This concept art, however, seems to give Squirt a much larger role in the movie. One art piece shows Nemo and Squirt avoiding Bruce the shark, a scene that never appeared in the movie.
Another piece shows Squirt with Marlin, Nemo, and Dory in the dentist’s fish tank, the fish tank residents in the background. Squirt and possibly Crush could have had a bigger role in the story, and Nemo and Squirt may have had further adventures together.
14. The original Woody
Even the original Toy Story was not immune to the creative difficulties of early story development. The original Toy Story had Woody, then a ventriloquist doll, as the antagonist of the story.
The version of Woody abused the other toys, including the tin one-man band from the Tin Toy short, until the toys rose up against him. The tin toy was eventually turned into Buzz Lightyear in subsequent rewrites, and the entire original story was scrapped in favor of a mismatched buddy comedy.
The story of the friendship of Woody and Buzz was an incredible improvement on the terror of the unlikable Woody from the original script, but the Pinocchio-like ventriloquist dummy remains an intriguing concept. It would have been incredible to watch in Pixar’s animation style and could have been played for interesting comedy.
13. The original Incredibles villains
Syndrome was not always the intended villain of The Incredibles. According to these concept art designs by Lou Romano, the villains went through several changes. The original villain developed was Xerek, and these designs were based off of his character. The woman pictured most likely developed into Mirage.
The first villain is suited to an undersea environment, weilding a trident like an evil reverse Aquaman. The second villain design uses the classic “strangely enlarged brain” villain design.
The third design utilizes the easily-recognizable goatee of evil, accompanied by a version of Mirage that looks more like she came out of a Bond movie. They all would have made for more of the classic supervillain to the Incredibles. More importantly, they likely would have been better babysitters for Jack-Jack.
12. Early Monsters, Inc. concept
Monsters, Inc. started with a simple concept – the monsters in your closet are real. In the early stages, the story focused on only Sully, and Mike did not yet exist.
Sully was called Johnson at this point, and his position in the company was unsettled. In some versions, he was a scarer worried about losing his job. In others, he was a janitor who had nothing to do with scaring itself.
Judging by this concept art, the world of monsters was more of a bright and vivid dreamland than the eventual cityscape of Monsters, Inc. This stunning wilderness would have been interesting to see in Pixar’s style, and a picnic between Sully and Boo would have been adorable.
11. The humans of WALL-E
WALL-E ended up as a lighthearted film about lovable robots and the humans whose lives they help get back on track. However, WALL-E was an incredibly different movie in development.
Once WALL-E and EVE reach the ship, they find the ship run by the Gels, a cruel alien species oppressing the robots, pictured in this concept art. WALL-E ends up leading a robot rebellion against the Gels.
In a plot twist reveal, WALL-E would have discovered that the Gels were what was left of humanity. The weightlessness and atrophy in space had essentially turned humans into Jell-O.
However, the production team eventually decided this was too strange a concept for the movie, and they instead thought the humans should be baby-like and need to learn to stand on their own again. Still, that big Planet of the Apes-type twist would have been interesting.
10. The adorable balloon assortment
Up also had a few problems becoming a fully fleshed-out story. It started with the idea of a floating castle and two brothers fighting to control their father’s kingdom. This was abandoned in favor of the story of an old man trying to escape in the world.
Director Pete Docter landed on the idea of an old man after drawing a piece of concept art. Docter said, “Yeah, I did I really early drawing of this grouchy guy these colorful, happy, fun balloons, smiling and stuff, and I just thought he really contrasted that.”
The image of Carl with the happy, smiling balloons is a lovable one, and it would have been a fun development to have Carl use these randomly collected celebration balloons to lift his house, rather than the mostly uniform colorful balloons used in the final version.
9. The Toxicity Challenge concept
Monsters University gave us the prequel we didn’t know we wanted. Before Disney’s purchase of Pixar, Monsters University was supposed to be a sequel instead of a prequel, and the plot would have involved Sully and Mike going to visit Boo and getting trapped in the human world. This film was canceled during the purchase, and the prequel went into development instead.
As part of the prequel, the fraternities and sororities go head-to-head in various challenges for the Scare Games. This concept art shows the early development of one of those challenges, the Toxicity Challenge.
8. The terrifying jellyfish
The jellyfish forest of Finding Nemo is one of the most intense points of the movie. Drawing on a definite human fear of the stinging jellyfish, Marlin and Dory have to make it through an almost impenetrable thickness of giant jellyfish. Though Marlin is not affected by the stinging, Dory gets severely stung by the jellyfish during the course of the escape.
It’s a panic inducing scene, particularly for anyone who has ever been stung by jellyfish, but this concept art kicks it up a notch further.
While the final scene still shows the blue of the clear sea showing through the jellyfish, the concept art leaves you feeling surrounded by an unending forest of what seems like the most threatening shade of pink. This scene would have been even more terrifying.
7. Inside Out’s early mind concepts
Inside Out was one of the most imaginative films in Pixar’s collection, bringing to life the inner working of a child’s mind. Bringing that inner life to the screen took lots of reworking. Many other emotions were originally personified, including Surprise, Hope, and Gloom, but they were ultimately cut to simplify the cast of characters.
The production team also went through many ideas for the “personality islands.” One concept was the “Idea Fields,” where ideas were cultivated like crops.
The addition of the imaginary friend Bing Bong came from an idea for a refugee camp in Riley’s mind. This concept art captures one of the early ideas for portraying Riley’s mind, a seemingly more free-flowing concept than the structured environment that most of the movie used.
6. Edna Mode’s dogs
Edna Mode was the best thing to come out of The Incredibles. Her unflappable, taking-nothing-from-no-one attitude made her the character everyone wanted to be. Not only did she have an eye for superhero fashion and dole out some very necessary life advice, she was also a genius inventor who could somehow design a supersuit to fit anyone’s powers.
Director Brad Bird stated that Edna was meant to be the Incredibles‘ version of Q, the witty inventor that supplied amazing gadgets to James Bond.
However, this concept art shows one thing that could make fans want to be Edna even more– those amazing dogs. Who wouldn’t have loved to see Edna wrangle two mirror-image spotted dogs that seem to be almost her full size? Maybe Edna will be arranging a trip to the animal shelter before Incredibles 2.
5. Bonnie’s other imaginary adventures
Bonnie’s creative imaginary adventures made her the perfect person for Andy to pass his mantle to in Toy Story 3. Her amazing imagination harkened back to the golden days of Toy Story with Andy and his elaborate set-ups for the toys, making Andy’s departure just a little less painful.
While we may yet get to see more of her adventures in Toy Story 4 and the few shorts that grace the fans every once in a while, we did not get to see a wide range of them in the movie.
This concept art shows some more of Bonnie’s pretend play, and some of it would be absolutely adorable on screen. Bonnie as Sherlock Holmes would undoubtedly be an exciting scene, and it would certainly be fun to see how her marriage to that stuffed walrus would go.
4. The cut Cars villain
Cars 2 delved into surprisingly relevant territory for the franchise’s sequel movie. The final script focused on alternative energy and electric cars, framing mad scientist Professor Z and Miles Axelrod as the antagonists of the movie, trying to turn the world against alternative energy. However, early versions of the script focused on Zil, a different antagonist shown in this concept art.
Zil was designed after a 1951 Soviet race car, hinting that the original plot may have played upon the Cold War. Rumors circulated that Zil would appear in a minor role in Cars 3, but the mysterious Soviet race car never appeared in the franchise at all.
3. The original Boo
Just as Sully went through a lot of changes before the final script of Monsters, Inc., Boo also went through some significant edits. The production team had a difficult time deciding what the child should be like.
They settled on a girl, thinking it would contrast best with Sully, but the girl went through many versions of her age, ethnicity, and personality before Boo was created.
The character was first called Mary, and she was at different points an Irish girl, an African American girl, and a tough seven-year-old hardened by the antics of four older brothers.
The team eventually decided to make her a 3-year-old to make her more dependent on Sully. However, this concept art shows some great characteristics that did not make it to Boo’s final character. The older, more daring child would have had a chance to interact with more of the monster world.
2. Buzz malfunctions
Before Toy Story 3 became the movie that brought tears to the eyes of every departing college student, an alternate version of the sequel was in the works. In the movie, Buzz malfunctioned, and the toys find out that Buzz Lightyear toys are under a massive recall.
The group travels to Taiwan where Buzz was manufactured, hoping to get Buzz fixed there. Along the way, Buzz meets other once-beloved toys who have also been recalled. Later, the toys fear that Buzz will be destroyed in the recall and set out to rescue him. This version of the story was ultimately canceled by Disney buying out Pixar.
1. Mr. Incredible goes to a bar
Concept artists went out of their way at the beginning of The Incredibles to subtly show Bob Parr trapped in his normal life. Everything from the way the environment was structured to the colors he wore were intended to convey how he felt in his regular insurance job.
In some of the concept art, however, his feels are a little more blatant, like this concept scene of Bob looking haggard while drinking at a bar.
It’s a very real scene for a character going through a midlife crisis and feeling trapped in a dead-end job. It would have been interesting it portrayed in the movie, but whether Disney would have ever allowed it is anyone’s guess.
It also would have answered several questions that this art brings up about this bar, because a bar decorated with both a spear and colorful wind chimes has to have a story.
What do you think? Would you have preferred to see these Pixar scenes on the big screen? Sound off in the comments!
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