Does ‘Planes’ Fit Into the Pixar Theory?

planes pixar theory

It’s time to talk about what none of us wants to talk about.

It’s a question that I’ve been asked daily for months now, so I’ve decided to give my official opinion on the matter.

The fact is that Planes was not developed by Disney Pixar. It was actually animated by DisneyToon Studios, Disney’s production company for straight-to-DVD releases that include the infamous Tinkerbell spin-offs from Peter Pan.

At that point, most people write the movie off and declare that it cannot fit into the Pixar Theory Timeline because it is not actually Pixar. I can’t argue with that logic, but there is something else that is important to consider: John Lasseter.

planes pixar theory

He wrote the story, and as most Pixar movie fans know, Lasseter is basically the guy in charge of everything creative in Pixar. The trouble is that Pixar and Disney have become much less distinct in recent years, as evidenced by Pixar’s creative decisions revolving around sequels.

That’s all to say that while Planes may not technically be a Pixar production, it is a Pixar movie. It clearly exists in the same world, and I have no choice but to include it in the theory, no matter how much I don’t want to.

Now, I watched the movie, and I have to admit that it was almost enjoyable, if only because I’ve always been charmed by the Cars aesthetic. It may not come anywhere near a true Pixar movie, but it does fit into the barely decent Cars universe well.

If you have not yet read the Pixar Theory, read that before going further, since we’re about to discuss events and story elements that won’t make much sense otherwise.

Done? Good! Let’s begin.

Some time after the events of Up, BNL exiled all humans to space in order to quell the natural imbalance being stirred by the increasingly intelligent animal populations. While humans were gone, the machines became the dominant species on Earth, as we see in CarsCars 2 and Planes.

In Cars, we see a world with human landmarks and cities that are now being populated by machines. We know humans had to be there at some point because things like sidewalks still exist. In Planes, the Statue of Liberty looks like a machine, but John F. Kennedy airport still exists.

What about animals? You can see the birds from the short, For the Birds, in Cars while Mack is on the highway. There are also references to animals throughout the Cars movies via posters, plastic flamingos and other symbols. It’s reasonable to conclude that animals existed at one point and are not as prevalent anymore.

One of the main takeaways from Cars 2 is that resources have become scarce. The machines are seeking alternatives to oil, and the story revolves around an evil corporation using dangerous fuel to suit their own needs.

This brings us to Planes, which I firmly believe takes place a long time after Cars 2. One of the major story elements of Planes is that the main character, Dusty, learns to race under his mentor, Skipper. We learn that Skipper fought in a war that took place in the Pacific, reminiscent of World War II.

Throughout the movie, there is a map that shows the “World Race” (or Piston something, I forget) and all 7 continents. One continent is noticeably missing: Europe. Asia is blanketed over that entire continent, but we know that Europe does exist in this world.

It was one of the settings in Cars 2, and a few characters in Planes come from European countries. The race cuts through Europe, so it makes no sense that this map would exclude it. But we do know that some major war took place between what may have been Asia and Europe.

What would this war be about? Resources. Early in Planes, it’s established that corn is now a sought-after fuel source for the machines. This is probably because the resources for fuel are beginning to fade completely.

There’s more evidence. During Planes, we’re introduced to a British plane who competed in the European Cup (so Europe does still have to exist). Initially, he is reluctant to trusting anyone and is the only major racer from Europe.

This is odd since there are multiple Americans and Asians competing in the race, which you can see if you watch the flags closely on the racing stats. At the very least, this all points to a scenario that hints at what may have doomed the machines that disappeared before the events of Wall-e.

I believe that these movies hint at a combination of pollution and resource scarcity that resulted in endless in-fighting between the machines until there was nothing left. That’s not much of a stretch when you consider that humans were away from Earth for 700-800 years.

Planes will have two more sequels, one of which is coming out next year. Planes: Fire & Rescue will be about a raging wildfire that is being combated by Dusty and, well, more planes. My guess is that this will shed more light on how the environment was decimated while the machines dominated the planet.

Hopefully, more information surrounding Planes and your feedback will lead to more updates on this post, so feel free to correct me or add something you think is interesting.

Ready for more?

The conspiring doesn’t end here. Check out my other Pixar Theory posts from infinity to beyond:

  • The Pixar Theory – the full book available on paperback and ebook via Kindle, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, or just a PDF. This will cover the entire theory and every movie in the Pixar universe, updated from what you just read.


206 thoughts on “Does ‘Planes’ Fit Into the Pixar Theory?

  1. It seems that every time a new Pixar (in this case, Pixar-ish) movie is released, it gives a few answers while raising more questions at the same time, like that Europe thing. At least we know a little more about the pre-Wall-E machine extinction, I guess.

  2. Haven’t seen Planes yet. But I like the Asia/Europe war.

    But, if John Lasseter is enough to qualify, what about Wreck it Ralph? John was the producer for that and that story had a lot of similarities to Toy Story One. And it is just as good as any Pixar movie.

    • I see you’re point Wreck it ralph could fit but then it would become the “John Lasseter theory” and that just doesn’t have the same ring too it

      • Or is there something more to it?
        Obviously it can’t be the “Disney Theory”, but after reading this I have realised other Disney movies also fit within this theory, that are not Pixar, such as Wreck It Ralph, Bolt, Lilo and Stitch, and Meet The Robinson’s. Maybe it is not just Pixar, but it cannot be completely Disney within itself. Could it be that a couple of specific producers have shared an idea of this alternate universe, and based all their movies around this Theory?

        • It’s possible.

        • hmm you should try to show this to him and ask him to do a thing on it it may be more then the pixar theory because i have seen a few links in the other disney films aswell

        • It’s possible that most of Disney’s computer animated films would fit in. Wreck it Ralf shows machines gaining more intelligence.
          Bolt could take place after Up when humans are more aware of an animals intelligence and humans are exploiting it, leading to the uprising.
          We know Frozen and Tangled are in the same universe, Frozen taking place a few years after Tangled, as we see Rapunzel and Flynn make an appearance as guests at the coronation in Frozen. I reckon it’s 100/200 years on from Brave, where the Willow the Wisps have created more intelligent animals (the horse in Tangled) and other magical beings. I think though magic isn’t openly practiced, for fear of reprisals or exploitation, at least before the events of Frozen. Hence the Trolls in Frozen living away from human civilisation, and saying it’s best if Elsa keeps her powers hidden. This would also explain why Rapunzel and Flynn don’t do anything when the events of Frozen occur, even when both Rapunzel’s healing tears could be useful, and Rapunzel would be one of the best people there to talk to Elsa, to show she’s not the only person with magical powers.
          I’ve not seen Chicken Little, so don’t know how well it would fit in, but the humanised animal characters could be the missing link between the animals that have started to evolve in A Bugs Life, but before the energy crisis of Monsters Inc.

    • IF it does fit within the theory then It would actually just provide more evidence of machines gaining intelligence during the time humans roamed the Earth. It would also provide increasing resentment from machines.

    • It most likely fits in with the same time around toy story

    • That would just go on when humans were around wouldn’t it?

    • Quite simply, Wreck it Ralph takes place inside video games, so it probably doesn’t have much to do with the events outside the games – unless what eventually destroys the machines is similar to what almost happened in Wreck it Ralph. given the way everything, even refrigerators, coffee makers, and thermostats, are networked these days, that’s even a very plausible theory.

    • Wreck it Ralph completely fits into the theory, being 100% about intelligent programming…

    • Personally, I think all Disney and Pixar movies could exist in the same universe. As for your example, self aware programs in video game seem to fit the theory plus, just about every early disney cartoon had intelligent animals, leading up to sometime before Monsters Inc, animals running the world. In my opinion, this would be Chicken Run, especially since it’s established they still have human movies (Indiana Jones)

  3. While I was watching it, I incorperated it into the pixar theory as well. I enjoyed the film very much, but i didnt even think about the asia-europe war

  4. As with the rest of the Pixar Theory, this is ridiculous. In a mind blowing, really awesome way.

  5. I now why there fuels are running out. Fuel is made from fossil fuels which take millions of years to form and fossil fuels are made from dead animals and plants.

    • If dinosaurs never went extinct (The Good Dinosaur). Fossil fuels would be more scarce, leading to an energy crisis, which would fit directly into this theory.

      • Obviously they did go extinct somewhere before Brave, because we don’t see them in any other movies. Also even if dinosaurs didn’t go extinct there would still be fossil fuel from when they did die. Not becoming extinct doesn’t mean living forever. Dinosaurs would still die naturally, just not by an asteroid.

  6. I like the fact of the Asia/Europe war and the fact that this film was years after Cars 2 but why do cars host and watch the show?

  7. I was gonna skip this, but i feel this may have some important clues and backstory!

  8. well, planes does mention a war often, the “mentor is an old war plane and speaks of his experiences often. military boats and Jets are also seen. are these from the machine/human/animal war?

  9. If the fuel used by the cars in Cars is made of fossil fuel, then how did they get it if dinosaurs never went extinct (The Good Dinosaur)? Curious to see how that fits in.

    • fossil fuels come from all animals that die millions of years ago, so there is still plenty of ways fossil fuels would still be there

      • Animal matter, plant matter, fish matter, plankton matter. All these things are carbon based and after millions of years and megapascals of pressure later boom, bitumen(see fossil fuels).

        • fish are animals

    • It is said that the movie “The good dinosaur” takes place in an alternate universe.

      • Yes, an alternate universe where the dinosaurs were never killed off by a meteor. In the alternate universe, they live alongside humans. This is actually the basis for why I believe the Pixar movies are connected in a universe where there was never a mass-extinction event.

  10. Okay, so I’m not sure why I haven’t thought of this question before….ha, but what do you think happened to BNL after they sent the humans to space? (I don’t remember that being mentioned in the original Pixar Theory post…and I haven’t had a chance to watch any Pixar movies recently…so I haven’t really thought this through.) Ha, I’m just curious about the idea of that….because they essentially initiated the shift to a machine dominated world….but where did they go?

    • as i understand it, the BnL was not actually important to the machines except as a way of keeping the humans away from their business, therefore, no humans on earth, no need for BnL

  11. First of all, the race was called Wings Around the Globe. Second, this doesn’t work because Skipper and Sparky from Planes appear in Air Mater, the Tall Tale designed to advertise Planes, so this couldn’t be that far after Cars 2.

    • short films dont really count, its like counting fanfiction in the continuity of some show like Doctor Who, it pokes holes in everything

  12. Firstly, and I’m sorry to say this but, it should be called the disney theory. Pixar is on Disney’s large list of things that are Disney. Pixar movies are on the Disney movie list making them Disney. Sorry to say it. Secondly, if you happen to include other disney movies it just adds to the evidence. Disney has made a very long list of animal movies with human characteristics. Communication, excelling in human sports, secret civilizations, even humans training them to be more human like. And let’s not forget the movies that involve machines all ready attaining A.I. and to add to list of factors aliens have been coming to earth helping us along. Magic and Time travel have been around for ages making it very easy to believe someone determined could find someway to gain magical abilities and travel back in time. And with how many other witches and other magic users there are in Disney movies Boo cold have very well be part of an order of magic users that have some yet known motive. Such as making sure certain events happen in time. They could be the ones making sure the points in time we see as movies happen for some reason. A good example of this is in Cinderella where a magical old women directly changes things with magic so ending is different. And Merlin teaching Arthur him so he would become who he was meant to be. And so the theory does not just gain new evidence but grows, becoming not entirely different but something definitely new.

    • And then there’s star wars after Disney bought it….. and Kevin bacon

        • marvel fits in perfectly with the theory as there were, at some point, supers that were eventually eliminated by the machines.

    • I thought about this myself (not in such great detail, because I haven’t seen all the movies and I’m skimming) because, although many of tales of the old Disney cartoons are centuries old and some of them do contain some magical or overevolved animals, none of the source material is like the Disney Cinderella universe where every animal is sentient and skilled — mice in clothing, sparrows making gowns, etc. (No animals change until after Fairy Godmother appears.)

      There are traditional stories in many human cultures in which, “long ago,” all creatures were more equal, more peaceful, and/or more able to communicate interspecies. Also many in which what are now plants, trees, or inanimate objects came from living sources. But now we are moving from a network of alternative universe fiction to the network of how humans explain reality to themselves with myth. Or . . . are we?

    • You can’t really include “The Sword in the Stone” in this, because that’s a Disney take on a centuries-old myth. Yes, there have been many different movies/stories with this theme, but I think that just goes to childlike imagination. Anyone with compassion can anthropomorphize (not a word, but it fits) other things, like animals, machines, toys, etc. The difference between those other movies and the Pixar Universe films is the obvious interconnectedness (another not-word, darn it) due to Easter eggs (every character ever, lol), recurring images (the trailer), and multiple se/prequels (Toy Story 1, 2, and 3; Monsters University/Inc.; Finding Nemo/Dory; Cars 1 &2; now Planes 1, 2, and 3; and The Incredibles 1 & 2).

      Yes, I know there’s no Incredibles 2, but I’m an eternal optimist.

    • Some guy made a disney theory of his own so look it up and calling this that would be copyright

  13. In the image with the seaplane, I’m not sure why it was included- I’ve never seen the movie but I didn’t see anything in the article mentioning it’s significance, the cliff in the background is pretty clearly the robot from “Real Steel”…I need to get some sleep for now but that movie would fit the human/machine/AI theme as well as the Disney Theory…

    • It’s a piston shaped rock

      • The point was about the rock looking like the robot head from Real Steel, I knew where the image came from.

  14. perhaps the aliens in Chicken Little sparked mass evolution which created the monsters… I mean people could’ve died out after WALL-E due to surviving animals being fed up with them, and then when the animals reach that stage, and aliens arrive, after a huge misunderstanding/gesture of kindness, the aliens help them evolve to be less animal-like and create Monsters which then falls back into the rest :)))

    • The best commentary until now. Chicken Little then, would be included between A Bug’s Life and Monster Inc.. It is the transition movie between animals and monsters.

  15. I read the pixar theory, and I just thought of this but is boo the only kid that remembers the Monsters World? Didn’t they start using laughter as a type of energy that means that other kids would have to have seen the monsters and like boo wondered where they come from?

    • Yes but boo is the only one who goes into the Monster world and befriends Sully explaining her fascination. In Monsters University they make it clear that they see their Monsters ( the little boys drawing) but they never interact with them beyond a scare or later a laugh.

    • Boo was the only kid who entered in the monster’s world. All the others just saw them for seconds, in their rooms, but Boo stayed days with the monsters.

  16. simply there is one thing that the author did not realize and that is the lack of trash in the cars world such as in walle this leads me to believe that humans were in the world of cars but must have been used as slaves to make parts such as stated in cars two that parts were no longer made for the “lemons” then in a war with the machines the pollution must have driven the mechanically inept humans to create the trash bots as seen in walle and flee. i believe this is a more sound explanation then cars accruing while the humans were in space

    • I’d disagree with the humans being used as slaves, and would stick with the idea of them being in space while the cars (and planes, I guess) dominated the earth. In the beginning of Wall-E, a BNL commercial played, showing how an “Army” of Wall-es were left behind to clean the earth. Although they weren’t shown in the cars movies, maybe the lack of garbage is a direct relation to Wall-Es cleaning up garbage that humans have left around the grounds. Of course, as the cars started to whither away, becoming lemons, and as resources were lost, garbage becomes more abundant again, as seen in Wall-E. For why car parts weren’t being created for lemons, of course resources were running low, so why would they bother creating parts for old cars when those parts are just going to eventually rust and deteriorate again anyway? Why not save those resources for some other use? Maybe they had enough metal to make new parts, but not enough fuels to feed machines to make those parts. It all goes back to lack of resources and lack of use for those new parts – the machines were smart and we’re thinking long term, so they knew making new bumpers was only going to promote short-time longevity. Save whatever resources you have to create a permanent fix to a problem, right? Sadly, though, they couldn’t create a permanent fix on their own. Although the machines have evolved and learned to adapt on their own, they still had a dependency on humans. Humans don’t require fossil fuels to move and survive, and we don’t require new parts as they start to whither away (Now I’m talking in the sense of car parts here, since we all grow old and have parts that slowing stop working properly). Humans helped create parts in a more “environmentally-friendly” way, which those machines needed after the humans left. In the end, machines weren’t able to stabilize their environment and needs, which is why in Wall-E, you see very few working machines, and very many “dead” machines. What they needed ran out, and they weren’t able to save themselves, except for Wall-E (and the other possible Wall-es and friends) that still roamed the earth. Although I haven’t watched planes yet, what I’m trying to say is that humans left, machines tried to survive on their own and failed, humans came back, helped “restabilize” the destroyed environment, and lead to a future described in “The Pixar Theory”, where the animals/monsters really started to shine, and machine dominance was minimal. I’ve just started reading about the theory now and still have a lot of thought to put into it all, but this is what I’ve thought of so far.

  17. I think the monsters evolved from nimls not from humns or animal human interaction because in Monsters University when Mike irst comes to college he looks down into the water and there are fish monsters with their own university type thing.

  18. there is an obvious hatred of Europe so it may have been dis-included for that reason
    (i havent seen the movie so if this dosent work out dont hate me)

  19. this isn’t an actual belief of mine but i do i have science fiction mind so ill say it anyway (two things) first thing what if Pixar is actually linked between two universes and is merely profited by the writers and two this is the description of many time periods and or other universes

  20. WAIT WHAT ABOUT FROZEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Some countries actually believe that there are only six continents they teach that Europe and Asia are one big continent

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