Those who have seen Pixar’s Soul are well-familiar with 22, the tiny soul voiced by Tina Fey who stays in The Great Before and refuses to go to Earth. The character clearly had a lot of history before she met Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) — some of the funniest moments in the Oscar-nominated film are when the souls of great people like Abraham Lincoln and Gandhi try and fail to get her to go to Earth — but what we don’t get too much of is why 22 is that way.
It turns out that the folks at Pixar had the same question. “While making Soul, we talked about the why of a new soul not wanting to live on Earth, but it didn’t ultimately belong in that movie,” Kevin Nolting, a 21-year Pixar veteran explained in a statement.
However, 22’s story begged to be told, and the result is a new original short called 22 vs. Earth. “22 vs. Earth was a chance to explore some of the unanswered questions we had about why 22 was so cynical,” Nolting said. “As a fairly cynical person myself, it felt like perfect material.”
The short 22 vs. Earth takes place before the events of Soul, and follows 22 as she recruits five new souls to join her in a rebellion against The Great Before’s normal course of business. “I think the new souls make the short so fun — the contrast of their pure innocence and delight with the cynical expectations of 22,” said Nolting. “The other new souls are what 22 once was before she took another path — purely innocent, blank slates to be guided by the counselors in their mostly uneventful journey to the Earth portal. 22 sees an opening in that and attempts to guide them herself into her way of thinking.”
Of course, 22’s plans have unexpected results, and by the end of 22 vs. Earth, Pixar promises we’ll all end up learning something about the meaning of life. No small feat for a short!
See how it all unfolds on April 30, when 22 vs. Earth premieres on Disney+.