The latest Pixar short exclusive to Disney+, 22 vs Earth arrives less than a week after the Oscar win for Soul. The prequel short follows 22 (once again voiced by Tina Fey) in her mischievous schemes prior to meeting Joe Gardner in the Great Before. This is only the second Pixar short to debut on Disney+ that is also directly connected to a feature film, the first being Lamp Life, the Bo Peep centered tie-in to Toy Story 4.
Unlike the majority of tie-ins that have come before, 22 vs Earth is more of a direct prequel to Soul. Famous shorts like Mike’s New Car, Riley’s First Date?, and Auntie Edna are well-known for either taking place after or concurrently with their respective feature stories. Pixar’s latest follows studio tradition with a few twists, and carries the same delightful charisma of Pete Docter and Kemp Powers’ Oscar-winning film. Though the question begs, could this be the last time we visit the world of Soul?
Following our exclusive sit down with Pixar chief and Soul director Pete Docter, it seems like the perfect time for a bit of speculation. We were invited to participate in a roundtable interview with 22 vs Earth director Kevin Nolting. A mainstay in the Pixar family for almost two decades, Nolting has made a name for himself as the head editor on Docter’s last 3 films: Up, Inside Out, and now Soul. As the filmmaker who was passed down Soul‘s creative torch, he would definitely know anything about 22 and Joe Gardner’s future.
As stated in our first breakdown of 22 vs Earth with Kevin Nolting, the idea of making a prequel short instead of a follow up to Soul was always more appealing to Pixar. Even if the ending of the film leaves 22’s fate on Earth unclear, “It just wasn’t satisfying and it wasn’t really part of the story at that point. Personally, I find it more satisfying to explore where she came from, rather than where she went” said Nolting.
Since his short is a prequel, Nolting was then asked about the possibility of seeing more from this world after the events of the film. His answer may not be what fans want to exactly hear, but he doesn’t necessarily shut the idea down.
Kevin Nolting: “Nobody knows the answer to that yet. The way it works with us at Pixar, these things just sort of come up organically as opposed to any plan. And right now, we have a lot of projects in production and development. So something like [another short] which, naturally, would not happen right away… yes, those conversations happen all the time. But right now, there’s no specific plan.”
The success of 22 vs Earth on Disney+ could quickly change these plans though. Pixar has branched off their tie-in shorts to greater success before, such as the numerous specials stemming from the Toy Story and Cars franchise. Granted, the narrative of Soul may not be in the same vein to demand spin-offs. In fact, many fans may be against the idea of seeing more from these characters, especially finding out 22’s intentionally vague fate. However, Pixar could be willing to prove the naysayers wrong.
The studio already has multiple projects in the pipeline specifically for Disney+. A new Up spin-off titled Dug Days, an untitled Cars continuation, and an original softball-centric family drama titled Win or Lose make up this first wave of exclusives. Suddenly, any type of continuation for Soul doesn’t seem so far-fetched, especially since 22 vs Earth still leaves the ending of the film fair game.
When discussing what’s next for Pixar, Nolting signaled a new era for the company. He touched upon the currently legacy of the studio, specifically how films like Inside Out, Soul, etc. revolve around themes of finding one’s true inner self.
Kevin Nolting: “The personalities who are making the movies at Pixar have these fundamental questions, and they’re exploring them through the movies. Especially, people like Pete [Docter] and Andrew [Stanton], when they started at the age they were at Pixar, you could follow their movies and see as they grow, the questions they’re asking [as they got older], I think you could make a correlation there.”
After now winning his third Oscar for Best Animated Feature, Pete Docter isn’t expected to return to the director’s chair for some time, thus allowing a more fresh (and diverse) pool of storytellers to rise in the ranks. It seems that Nolting is following a similar path, having already established himself as a Pixar innovator. He had the following to say on the studio’s future.
Kevin Nolting: “You know, I’m at a point in my life, in my age, that I’m now happy to let younger people, more diverse voices sort of come up. I’m happy to just be there and help. So that’s really what I’m looking forward to.”
There are a lot bright things on the horizon for the animation giant, and whether or not more Soul is on the table remains to be seen. What is clear though: Pixar is open to new ideas and isn’t necessarily against seeing more of 22, or possibly even Joe Gardner. If fans were to ever see them again, it could very well come from new creative voices, but obviously under the guidance of mainstays like Pete Docter and Kevin Nolting.