If you watched Disney and Pixar's Cars 2 and found yourself wishing that just...never happened...you probably aren't alone.
The most maligned of Pixar's entire oeuvre, Cars 2 centered on Mater, the dim-witted tow truck who was a major comic relief character in the first Cars. Released in 2011, the film baffled critics by following up the first movie -- which was essentially a sports movie, where racing is the sport, and a hotshot athlete has to learn the value of small-town life -- with a spy comedy, complete with an impenetrably stupid plot by the villain, futuristic gadgets, and a globe-trotting setting that left said small town in the proverbial rear view mirror.
Cars 3 has, from the very first footage released, obviously been trying to right the ship, starting with the decision to reassert race car Lightning McQueen as the film's unquestioned protagonist.
“[Cars 2] was Mater’s world,” Cars 3 co-writer and long-time Pixar producer Bob Petersen explained to Screencrush. “We’re back to Radiator Springs and that team [in Cars 3] because this is McQueen’s story.”
And that idea, "Mater's World," is an interesting one that has us wondering: Is it possible that Cars 2 really DID never happen?
"[Cars] was a great movie," Larry the Cable Guy -- who plays Mater in the franchise -- told CBR this week. "It’s still my favorite movie. I like it even better than [Cars 2]. I know Mater was the main guy in 2, but I’ve got to tell you, I like the first one. 2 was kind of like more of a Mater tale. It had really nothing to do with the movies. It was more of a Mater dream — which I got, and which I don’t think anybody else understood
"More of a Mater tale" is a potentially telling element of that quote.
Cars Toons: Mater’s Tall Tales is a series of non-canonical short films that use characters from the world of Cars but which are all stories told by Mater and considered not to be credible since Mater is basically a full-grown child.
The setup and payoff of each of the Mater’s Tall Tales shorts
At the end of Cars 2, the residents of Radiator Springs arrive in London to help bring the movie to its conclusion; Mater and his spy pals are saving McQueen, who had been largely absent from the movie since the first act.
After the main plot ends, the movie cuts back to Radiator Springs, where finishes telling the story (which culminates with a bomb nearly blowing up the Queen of England, who insisted on staying to see how Mater's confrontation with the villain played out). Minnie and Van, a pair of minor supporting characters from Cars, express their disbelief, and nobody in town steps up to say "Oh, no, he was telling the truth. We were there."
Instead, the spy cars arrive, abruptly, seemingly proving that Mater's whole story was true, and there's a quick wrap-up before the film cuts to credits.
Those credits depicted, among other things, Mater and Lightning being chased by a pack of bulldozers, reminiscent of a sequence in "El
It's also been widely noted that in Cars 3, there are no explicit references to the events or characters unique to Cars 2. An official Pixar-produced viral video (seen above) purportedly about the "Untold Story of Lightning McQueen" completely omits McQueen's trip the
That alone isn't much of an indication that Cars 2 is canon in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, though; that McQueen won four Piston Cups seems like a plot point to those watching, but in-story, it would be as much a part of him as his eye color or his relationship with Sally; it's possible Mater could have simply imposed real-world elements into his fantasy to make it more believable.
Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn't through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing's biggest stage!
The voice cast also features Armie Hammer as Jackson Storm, Larry The Cable Guy as Mater, Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera, Cheech Marin as Ramone, Michael Wallis as Sheriff, and Paul Dooley Sarge.
Directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist Cars, Cars 2) and produced by Kevin Reher (A Bug's Life, La Luna short), Cars 3 cruises into theaters on June 16, 2017.
Are you excited for the return of the classic franchise? Let us know with your vote in the Anticipation Rankings!
Cars 3 is in theaters now.