Just like Joe Gardner, Disney and Pixar are headed back to the Great Before. A new animated short, set in the pre-life orientation “youth seminar” from 2020’s Soul, is coming to Disney+ on April 30. Titled 22 vs. Earth, the prequel short details how new soul 22 came to be so skeptical of life on Earth.
Tina Fey returns as the voice of 22, the jaded soul content to remain in the Great Before indefinitely. Long before the events of Soul, 22 enlisted five other new souls into a miniature rebellion, though things don’t exactly go according to plan. In fact, 22’s subversive plot might unwittingly lead to revelations about the meaning of life.
“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 Pixar veteran Kevin Nolting, who directed the short, in a statement. “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.”
This isn’t the first time Pixar has returned to the worlds of its features in a short. Most recently, the studio brought its toys to life once again in Lamp Life, a prequel of sorts to Toy Story 4. Like 22 vs. Earth, that short was released on Disney+, and offers context for characters and their attitudes. That approach might particularly benefit 22, whose motivations for remaining in the Great Before remain under-explored in Soul.
“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,” said Nolting. “22 vs. Earth was a chance to explore some of the unanswered questions we had about why 22 was so cynical. As a fairly cynical person myself, it felt like perfect material.”
22 vs. Earth debuts on Disney+ on April 30. Soul is currently streaming, and is also available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD.