David A. Price’s The Pixar Touch is illuminating on many levels, relating the thrilling history of the most important movie studio ever (emphasis emphatically mine). Pretty much the whole thing is required reading for devoted Pixar worshippers–for one thing, I didn’t know before that Pixar has been around, in one form or another, since the 70s, being the brainchild of a group of visionaries who knew, even then, that computer animation was the future, and devoted themselves wholly and passionately to making it happen–but it’s also full of small and satisfying factoids.
For example, I was thrilled to learn that it was John Lasseter who’d originally shopped Thomas Disch’s story “The Brave Little Toaster” around Disney for animated feature film treatment. Lasseter didn’t end up working on the project (having been let go)–but Disney did end up making a deft and underappreciated Brave Little Toaster film. The result was less innovative than the 2D/3D hybrid that Lasseter envisioned–but this story of inanimate objects harboring deep and affectionate attachments to their human owners presaged a later Lasseter masterpiece.
Which brings us, in total non-non-sequitur fashion, to Joss Whedon:
Joss was hired by Disney to do a polish on the Toy Story script. Joss apparently worked for four months on what he called “a great structure with a script that doesn’t work.” Among other innovations, he introduced Rex the dinosaur, but there was one change he suggested that was incredibly, thrillingly Whedonian:
As Whedon pictured it, Woody and Buzz, seemingly doomed at Sid’s house, would be rescued by Barbie in a commando-style radid. Her character was to be patterned after Linda Hamilton’s portrayal of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2.
As Price goes on to point out, the Buffy film had come out in 1992, but the world had yet to be made safer for butt-kicking heroines by the TV show, so the idea was nixed. (That, and Mattel refused to license Barbie for the film). Oh, what could have been!