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Why isn't Tim Allen in Pixar's Lightyear?

Marvel star Chris Evans takes on the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story spin-off

Watch: Lightyear trailer

Buzz Lightyear is back. Three years after the release of Toy Story 4, Pixar's iconic character has returned with his own spin-off film.

Lightyear, which is now streaming on Disney+, tells the origin story of the action figure and his adventures to infinity and beyond.

But the character sounds a little different to the Space Ranger who appeared in all four Toy Story movies.

That's because Tim Allen, who voiced Buzz Lightyear in the beloved franchise, has been replaced by Marvel star Chris Evans.

The move to recast Allen has prompted confusion from fans, but there is a simple reason why Evans was picked to be the new voice of Buzz.

Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear in a scene from Lightyear
Chris Evans voices Buzz in Toy Story spin-off Lightyear, now streaming on Disney+. (Disney/Pixar)

Lightyear isn't about the Buzz Lightyear toy featured in the Toy Story films. Instead, it focuses on the hero who inspired the toy.

"I've always wondered what movie was Buzz from," director-screenwriter Angus MacLane told Yahoo earlier this year. "Why couldn't we just make that movie? So that's what we did.... [Lightyear is] the movie that Andy saw that changed his life… Andy's Star Wars."

Pixar took the decision to replace Tim Allen with Chris Evans in the spin-off because they wanted to differentiate between the two characters.

MacLane told Vanity Fair: "Tim's version of Buzz is a little goofier and is a little dumber, and so he is the comic relief.

"In this film, Buzz is the action hero. He's serious and ambitious and funny, but not in a goofy way that would undercut the drama. Chris Evans has the gravitas and that movie-star quality that our character needed to separate him and the movie from Tim's version of the toy in Toy Story."

Chris Evans attends the world premiere of Disney and Pixar's Lightyear
Evans is best known for his role as Captain America in the MCU. (Getty for Disney)

Evans has admitted that taking on the role of Buzz Lightyear was "intimidating".

The actor, best known for his role as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, said: "I used Tim Allen as a guideline.

Read more: 22 Disney and Pixar in-jokes that will blow your mind

"He did such a good job, and I'd be a fool not to acknowledge the work he did. But I couldn't just do a shameless impression. I had to somehow create my own understanding of the character, and try to make some fresh tracks in the snow while paying homage to the great work that he did.

"Eventually I felt comfortable enough to make my own interpretation, and part of that was lowering the tone of my voice. I basically have to lower the register of my voice in everything that I do."

Tim Allen and Buzz Lightyear attend the official opening of the new Tomorrowland attraction
Tim Allen voiced Buzz Lightyear in all four Toy Story films. (Getty)

Absent from the press interviews for the Pixar movie, Tim Allen remained silent about being replaced by Chris Evans in the run up to its release.

However, once Lightyear hit cinemas, Allen spoke to Extra about why he failed to speak up. "The short answer is I've stayed out of this 'cause it has nothing to do [with my Buzz Lightyear]," Allen said.

"It's a wonderful story," the actor said of Lightyear. "It just doesn’t seem to have any connection to the toy... It's just no connection. I wish there was a better connection."

Talking about Buzz branching on his own, Allen added: "It's [Tom] Hanks and I. There's really no Toy Story Buzz without Woody."

Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear in a scene from Lightyear
Allen has said there is no link between Lightyear and his Toy Story movies. (Disney/Pixar)

Despite rumours that he had been cold-shouldered by Disney, Allen continues to work with the studio on his upcoming Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, in which he returns as Scott Calvin.

In a strange quirk of fate, Tim Allen's Toy Story co-star Tom Hanks had his new movie Elvis out the week after Lightyear, putting Woody and Buzz head-to-head at the box office.

"How about that?" Hanks told CinemaBlend. "Actually, I wanted to go head-to-head with Tim Allen, and then they didn't let Tim Allen do it. I don't understand that."

Uzo Aduba as Alisha Hawthorne in Lightyear
Orange is the New Black actor Uzo Aduba voices Alisha Hawthorne. (Disney/Pixar)

Lightyear follows Buzz after he is marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth.

He must work with a group of new recruits, including Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi) and Darby Steel (Dale Soules), to find a way back home.

The mission is commanded by Alisha Hawthorne, voiced by Orange is the New Black star Uzo Abuda.

James Brolin plays Buzz's arch-nemesis Emperor Zurg, while Keke Palmer voices Alisha's granddaughter Izzy Hawthorne. Peter Sohn, who directed Pixar's 2015 film The Good Dinosaur, lends his voice to Buzz's robot cat companion Sox.

Lightyear is streaming on Disney+ now.