Culture

Pixar's Alternate Universe?

Pixar Characters

Everybody’s a geek about something culturally. For some it’s science fiction, while others may geek out over sports. For me, it’s Disney culture (don’t act so shocked), college sports, and Star Wars. But everybody has something that they’re a geek about.

Some geeks — and I’m using the term in a cultural light, rather than referring to nerds or dorks — go too far in their obsession. Some dress in elaborate costume for events like Comic Con or DragonCon, or even renaissance fairs. (Yes, I realize I’m stepping on some toes here.) Others show it off on their skin. Still others devote months of their time to devising theories on how a certain studio’s movies are interconnected. Meet Jon Negroni.

By day, Negroni manages social media and SEO for a non-profit organization, and he writes a blog for young professionals. And — bless his heart — he’s apparently a Pixar fan. Negroni has developed an elaborate theory explaining how all the features in the Pixar canon are related.

Several months ago, I watched a fun-filled video on Cracked.com that introduced the idea (at least to me) that all of the Pixar movies actually exist within the same universe. Since then, I’ve obsessed over this concept, working to complete what I call “The Pixar Theory,” a working narrative that ties all of the Pixar movies into one cohesive timeline with a main theme.

Negroni’s timeline runs as follows:

The witch from "Brave" begins and ends Negroni's Pixar timeline.

The witch from “Brave” begins and ends Negroni’s Pixar timeline.

The crux of Negroni’s theory centers around animals and machines evolving and developing the intelligence and skill to overtake humanity… oh, and something about traveling back and forth in time. Negroni’s theory holds so little water that he has taken to updating his website entry, posting responses to challenges and holes in the theory in blue (any quoting here will employ the same color scheme).

Remember, this theory begins with Brave — obviously because of its place in time but also because the film serves as a jumping off point for… something.

In Brave, Merida discovers that there is “magic” that can solve her problems but inadvertently turns her mother into a bear. We find out that this magic comes from an odd witch seemingly connected to the mysterious will-of-the-wisps. Not only do we see animals behaving like humans, but we also see brooms (inanimate objects) behaving like people in the witch’s shop.

We also learn that this witch inexplicably disappears every time she passes through doors, leading us to believe that she may not even exist. Don’t get ahead of me, but we’ll come back to Brave. Let’s just say, for now, the witch is someone we know from a different movie in the timeline.

[…]

There are two progressions: the progression of the animals and the progression of artificial intelligence. The events of the following movies set up a power struggle between humans, animals, and machines. The stage for all-out war in regards to animals is set by RatatouilleFinding Nemo, and Up, in that order. Notice I left out A Bug’s Life, but I’ll explain why later.

Is Remy sowing the seeds of trouble (and I don't mean with the health inspector)?

Is Remy sowing the seeds of trouble (and I don’t mean with the health inspector)?

A power struggle between humans, animals, and machines? All-out war? Negroni goes on to make connections between a rat who just wants to cook in Ratatouille and Charles Mintz’s talking-dog-collar invention from Up. Alas, in one of his blue sentences, he simply glosses over a hole in his theory.

Some have pointed out that Muntz was working in South America before the events of Ratatouille. This is true, but it is not explicitly stated how and when he developed the collars. 

You tracking with me here? Yeah, it gets crazier.

Negroni chases squirrels via a rant about Buy n Large, the company that takes over the world in Wall-E. He intimates that Buy n Large is behind Carl’s eminent-domain-style attempted eviction in Up – with absolutely nothing to back it up. Then he jumps back to the evolution of thinking and talking animals in Finding Nemo before switching inexplicably over to the concept of artificial intelligence in The Incredibles. My four-year-old niece carries on more linear conversations than this!

Speaking of The Incredibles, Negroni contradicts himself in discussing the timeframe of the film in several blue passages, punching more holes in his timeline and with it his theory.

A lot of people have been arguing about where The Incredibles actually takes place because we see technology from modern times and the 1980s even though everything has a 1960s vibe. This is cleared by Brad Bird, the director, who says the movie takes place in an alternate 1960s, which means the movie opens in the 1950s.

[…]

The beginning is set in what appears to be the late 60s or early 70s, meaning the events of the movie must be in the late 80s or early 90s. (emphasis mine)

Do these two look like the know - or care - about Zero Point Energy?

Do these two look like the know — or care — about Zero Point Energy?

Negroni draws ridiculous parallels between The Incredibles and the Toy Story trilogy, attempting to explain something called Zero Point Energy while totally ignoring the comic-book style of the former which contrasts with the almost photorealistic look of the latter. Next thing we know, Negroni starts to get all lathered up about animals and objects taking over mankind. (Folks, I can’t make this stuff up.)

So, by the 2000s, the super-humans all but gone, and mankind is vulnerable. Animals, who want to rise up Planet of the Apes style, have the ability to take over, but we don’t see this happen. Also, A.I. never takes over humans by force. Why do you think that is? It’s reasonable to assume that machines did take over, just not as we expected. The machines used BNL [Buy-n-Large], a faceless corporation (which are basically faceless in nature) to dominate the world…

At this point, Negroni — because he can’t express anything in a linear fashion — ping pongs between Cars and Wall-E, comparing the post-apocalyptic vision of the latter film with the all-American landscapes of the former (and the worldwide travelogue of its sequel).

So machines decide to control humans by using a corporation that suits their every need, leading to an industrial revolution that eventually leads to…pollution. When the animals rise up against the humans to stop them from polluting the earth, who will save them? The machines. We know that the machines will win the war, too, because after this war, there are no animals ever to be seen again on Earth. Who’s left?

[…]

…machines are left behind to populate the world and run things, explaining human landmarks and traditions still being prominent in Cars. There are no animals or humans in this version of Earth because they’re all gone, but we do know that the planet still has many human influences left. In Cars 2, the cars go to Europe and Japan, making it plain that this is all taking place on Earth as we know it.

Of course the world of Cars has been overtaken by pollution. That explains the open blue skies and clean car world perfectly! Smog you can still see through — what a concept. If we must have pollution, let it be the transparent stuff like in Cars!

The next step in Pixarian evolution?

The next step in Pixarian evolution?

Still with me? This is crazy stuff, but hold on to your seats.

Negroni goes on to note that the seed Wall-E plants grows into a tree that suspiciously resembles the tree in A Bug’s Life, which of course means that the bug society in this picture is set in an advanced, post-apocalyptic world. Hold up, Negroni fesses up a bit here.

I’ll admit, the trees looking similar isn’t enough to support the idea that A Bug’s Life takes place after Wall-E, but there’s definitely more reasons for why it’s likely. 

[…]

The tree also bears a resemblance to the one in Up that Carl and Ellie frequented, which could be the source of Carl’s wild creativity in using balloons to transport his house.

Or the trees could look similar because animated trees tend to look alike. But that may be a bit too obvious.

This ant society centered around a post-apocalyptic tree which grows in transparent pollution naturally leads us to a new super-race — MONSTERS! (Well, duh!)

So what happens? Humanity, machines, and animals grow in harmony to the point where a new super species is born. Monsters. The monsters civilization is actually Earth in the incredibly distant future. Where did they come from? It’s possible that the monsters are simply the personified animals mutated after the diseased earth was radiated for 800 years. The alternative could be that humans and animals had to interbreed to save themselves. Gross, I know, but plausible since the lines between animals and humans are constantly up for debate in Pixar.

Yes, you read that right. This is where Negroni’s theory takes us next. But wait — the monsters’ interaction with humans? How can it take place if humanity has died out? Don’t you worry: Negroni’s got that all figured out too.

In Monsters Inc., they have an energy crisis because they are in a future earth without humans. Humans are the source of energy, but thanks to the machines, again, the Monsters find a way to use doors to travel to the human world. Only, it’s not different dimensions.

The monsters are going back in time. They’re harvesting energy to keep from becoming extinct by going back to when humans were most prominent. The peak of civilization, if you will. Though a lot of time has passed, animosity towards humans never really went away for animals/monsters. Monsters must have relied on anti-human instincts to believe that just touching a human would corrupt their world like it did in the past. So they scare humans to gather their energy until they realize that laughter (green energy) is more efficient because it is positive in nature.

That’s right, silly. It’s time travel.

Are they one and the same? Of course. Why would you even ask?

Are they one and the same? Of course. Why would you even ask?

But what about Boo, the girl who ventures into the monster world era in Monsters Inc.? Why, she turns out to be the center of Negroni’s theory, of course.

What do you think happened to her? She saw everything take place in future earth where “kitty” was able to talk. She became obsessed with finding out what happened to her friend Sully and why animals in her time weren’t quite as smart as the ones she’d seen in the future. She remembers that “doors” are the key to how she found Sully in the first place and becomes…A WITCH.

Yes, Boo is the witch from Brave. She figures out how to travel in time to find Sully, and goes back to the source: The will-of-the-wisps. They are what started everything, and as a witch, she cultivates this magic in an attempt to find Sully by creating doors going backwards and forwards in time. How do we know? In Brave, you can briefly see a drawing in the workshop. It’s Sully.

[…]

Does Boo ever find Sully? I like to think so. He surely reunited with her at least once as a child at the end ofMonsters Inc. but eventually he had to stop visiting. But her love for Sully is, after all, the crux of the entire Pixar universe.

That’s it. In a nutshell. All this nonsense about Zero Point Energy, inter-species war, a nefarious super-company, and suspiciously similar trees is all about the love between a little girl and a monster. Makes perfect sense, right?

No. Not at all.

I give Negroni an A for effort, but his theory requires more suspension of disbelief than the actual films do.

How’s this for a theory? The folks at Pixar are clever and creative and come up with cute ideas about talking cars and what your toys do when you leave the room and a medieval princess who accidentally turns her mom into a bear. They like to sneak references to their other films in as rewards for observant fans. There’s no overriding timeline or storyline among the Pixar canon — they’re just great movies, and we should enjoy them for what they are.

Sheesh, some people have way too much time on their hands…