Pixar’s Finding Dory arrives in theaters next week, and with it, a likely peek at the studio’s next in-development film. That’ll probably be Cars 3, the third installment in Pixar’s periodic experiment in selling toys and lowering expectations for their beloved stable of films. Studio exec John Lasseter dropped a few plot details about the new movie at a Finding Dory press event, and while most of them just sound like coded assurances for, “It won’t be Cars 2,” he did reveal a surprisingly backward-looking tone for the film.
Speaking about protagonist Lightning McQueen (a returning Owen Wilson), Lasseter said, “It’s a little bit more akin to Cars 1, where you get into a deep emotion with him. It’s really a special story. It’s very emotional, and his relationship with Doc Hudson, and his memory of Doc Hudson.” Hudson—the mentor figure from the first film—was played by Paul Newman, and his relationship with Wilson’s hot-shot racer provided an emotional core that some found lacking in the Larry The Cable Guy-centric spy antics of Cars 2.
But hey, if Cars is going to start looking back at its history, why stop at the first film? Newman might be gone—the original Cars was his final film role before his death in 2008—but there are still all sorts of questions lurking at the back of the Cars Cinematic Universe, ones that an extended flashback sequence could hopefully answer. For instance: If older cars in the CCU correspond to older car models in our meatspace human world—as suggested by the elderly Doc Hudson being a 1951 Hudson Hornet—then what was going on in their world in 1858, the year before Étienne Lenoir built the first internal combustion engine? Are we to believe that the entire Cars civilization, which includes refined petroleum products, medical services, and high-tech spy organizations, has evolved in a little more than 150 years? (Ignoring, for the sake of argument, the theory that the Cars films are actually a distant sequel to the A.I. shenanigans of Pixar’s own Wall-E.) Or will John Lasseter and his cronies finally reveal the terrible truth: that Doc Hudson and his big-eyed friends rose up against their human creators, destroyed them, took their places, and now idyllic Radiator Springs is built on a mountain of crushed human skulls? We need to know, Lasseter. We demand to know what’s behind those creepy opaque windows. IS IT CAR SEATS, JOHN? IS IT CAR SEATS COVERED IN BLOOD?
Finding Dory comes out next Friday.