* Warning: this article contains spoilers for Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear.
Ah, Evil Emperor Zurg. Most audiences would’ve met him in the 1999’s Toy Story 2 film as Buzz Lightyear’s arch-nemesis. After spending a big chunk of the movie attempting to track Buzz down, the two finally confront each other in an elevator shaft, and it was revealed that Zurg is Buzz’s father.
Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear will bring Zurg back to the screen again, but this time, the character has been changed slightly. In Lightyear, Buzz goes on a mission but finds himself in the future when he returns. Or is it?
It’s the effects of time dilation, where he’s traveling so fast, time around him passes by much faster while Buzz technically slows down, hence while a few minutes have passed for him, years have passed for everyone else. The planet he returned to isn’t what it used to be and is under assault from mysterious robots who only say one word, ‘Zurg’.
So, where did this Zurg come from? What does he want? And who is Zurg under that iron grimace? Well, if you’ve got questions about this new Pixar bad guy, then don’t worry. We’ve got answers.
Warning spoilers are ahead for Lightyear, so if you’ve not seen it yet, don’t read on.
Who is Zurg in Lightyear?
Just like in the Toy Story movies, Zurg is the main villain to Buzz. There are several key differences between the Zurg in Toy Story and in Lightyear. The first is that he’s never referred to as an ‘evil emperor’. In Lightyear, he is just Zurg, and there’s hardly any evidence that establishes the character as a ruler of an intergalactic empire. Then again, Star Command isn’t exactly policing the galaxy, so maybe we’re at the beginning of all of that.
Secondly, the Toy Story movie Zurg claims to be Buzz’s father, but in this new film, the villain is revealed to be an older version of Buzz who originally successfully created the hyperdrive crystal, but rather than risk arrest, flies out into the unknown. He then realises that if he can use the crystal to travel forward in time, he can possibly do the reverse, but in doing so realises he cannot travel beyond a mixed moment in time, which was right about when he made his successful test flight.
So he has travelled back in time to this moment, to convince young Buzz to use the newly formed crystal to travel back in time, to prevent the colony ship from crashing on the planet, thus reversing time and changing fate as he knows it. Unfortunately, the years of isolation has driven this older of Buzz into madness and loneliness, and he won’t stop at anything to change the way things turned out.
What does he want?
Toy Story’s Zurg had one goal – “Destroy Buzz Lightyear”. In Lightyear, his motivation and goal is different. Zurg plans on using the hyperspace crystal that Buzz and Sox perfected to send young Buzz back in time, and prevent Buzz from ever landing on the alien planet. Doing so would erase the last few decades from history, which would mean Buzz never failed the mission he and his best friend Alicia Hawthorne was sent to complete.
Why is he called Zurg?
Guess viewers never really questioned his name when he was introduced in the ’90s. The same way we don’t question why a cowboy was called Woody and why a Space Ranger went by the name Buzz. But seing how Zurg in Lightyear is actually an older Buzz, why is he called Zurg still?
This is because in the movie, Zurg was the only word his robotic army can say.
Who voices Zurg?
Despite Chris Evans playing the younger version of Buzz, the violet-coloured villain is voiced by James Brolin. In the character’s first appearance all the way back in Toy Story 2, Andrew Stanton, who was executive producer on Lightyear, played him.
And there you have it! A brief rundown of who the big bad villain of the new Disney and Pixar movie is. Lightyear is now showing in cinemas.