Are you excited for Cars 3? Do you remember what happened in Cars 1 and Cars 2? I’m here to help! Spoilers for Cars 1 and Cars 2 below.
We’re introduced to Lightning McQueen, an arrogant race car who becomes a Piston Cup finalist in his rookie season. He is determined to win the final race, set to take place in California. While traveling to California, McQueen gets lost and winds up in Radiator Springs, a town on Route 66 bypassed by Interstate 40.
Of course, as luck would have it, there’s an ex-Piston Cup champion residing in Radiator Springs. Doc mentors McQueen to a quasi-victory. As he’s about to win the final race, McQueen stops to help an injured concurrent. McQueen was changed by his stay in Radiators Springs. He became a better person-car.
Cars 2 (2011)
Lightning McQueen is now an established race car champion. He has won the Piston Cup four times. He gets challenged to compete in the World Grand Prix, where he will face international opponents. McQueen takes Mater along. At the World Grand Prix, Mater gets mistaken for a spy by real spies.
You see, the participants of the World Grand Prix are required to use a new clean fuel, but that’s really a plot to drive the demand for regular gas. The villains temper with the clean fuel to make it explode, hoping the public will become scared of new fuels. The spies elucidate the evil plan with Mater’s help.
Planes is a story set in the same universe but with different characters. It was made by DisneyToon Studios, with oversight from John Lasseter. It was intended to be direct-to-video, but Planes ended up getting a theatrical release, and it did so well that the sequel, Planes: Fire and Rescue, got a theatrical release too.
Planes was made on a budget of $50 million while Cars was made on $120 million. You can see it reuses the same animations quite a bit. It’s a more typical underdog story. It’s about a crop duster who wants to be a racer and ends up taking part in a race around the world. In the sequel, he trains as a firefighter.
The rules of the Cars universe
- Crops are used to make biofuel. The main town in Planes makes fuel from corn.
- Tractors are still cows. Ishani mentions that they are sacred in India, and that some Indian vehicles believe they might get “recycled” as tractors.
- Forklifts are crucial members of society. They are the ones with the equivalent of hands. We see them acting as mechanics/physicians, waiters/cooks, and any other job that requires fine motor skills.
- All the vehicles are alive. We see eyes on various types of boats, including an aircraft carrier, as well as on trains, dirigibles and helicopters.
- The vehicles have fought wars and they still have military personnel.
- The vehicles have national parks (a popular destination especially for RVs).
- Wildlife includes tractors-like deer and drones who act like birds.
- Cars love ancillary products. Really, the cars in the Cars universe like to buy ancillary products. Talk about superliminal messages.
The coolest Cars/Planes characters
- Oil-billionaire-turned-electric-car Miles Axlerod (pictured earlier).
- Sleek Indian plane Ishani, played by Priyanka Chopra (pictured earlier).
- Japanese cars, especially sushi chefs.
- Rickshaw monks from the monastery in Nepal.
- The aircraft carrier, who’s so comically large (pictured above).
- Fillmore, the 1960’s hippie Volkswagen from Radiator Springs. He talks about the environment and even has a sticker that says “Save 2D Animation”.
- The demolition derby school bus that will debut in Cars 3 (pictured below).
Even though the Cars movies are not the best Pixar films, they have a fun world and characters. Let’s see what they do with Cars 3!