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Will Lightning McQueen Retire in Cars 3?

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@WesLungwitz

Wes grew up around cars at the family business. He makes no attempt to hide his love of early 90s GM products, and still repents selling his sweet '94 Pontiac Sunbird a few years back.

Will Lightning McQueen retire?

This it the question uttered from an announcer in the early trailers for Cars 3, being released in theaters in June. The response is a defiant “I decide when I’m done” from McQueen.

Will Lightning McQueen Retire in Cars 3?

The trailers that have been released since have clearly laid out the rivalry scenario between the now veteran McQueen and the up-and-coming Jackson Storm. It places McQueen at the end of his career, with one last chance to take down Storm to remain relevant. Meanwhile, his agent seems to be nudging him toward retirement.

No matter how things play out in the movie, one thing seems obvious. Lightning McQueen’s career will be sunsetted, or at the very least, remain very close to the end. While this makes sense with the timeline of the series, one has to wonder what the vision is here.

I see it two ways. Either Jackson Storm remains the villain, with McQueen taking him down once and for all in a series ender. Or, a softer version of Storm appears at the end, taking over as the new lead racer, with McQueen riding into the sunset like The King did in the Piston Cup series in the first move.

In the first scenario, the champ goes out on top, and the younger Storm character remains an unlikeable antagonist. The assumption would have to be made then that Disney feels good enough about selling merchandise with the new McQueen paint job (or wrap) as a champ, and doesn’t feel he’ll be seen as an outgoing less appealing character.

But the other option is that McQueen retains his attachment, while Jackson Storm also becomes an endearing character for the future of the series – even though there may not be plans for another actual Cars movie as of right now. For this to work, Storm would have to do a real 180 from what we’ve seen in the previews. But, obviously this is within the realm of possibility. Because, movies. Storylines. Drama.

Certainly I’d like Disney to take the killer instinct approach and have McQueen take down the cocky Jackson Storm in embarrassing fashion. But, it’s a kids movie, and there are lessons to be learned and such. So we’ll probably end up with some version of a storyline that creates a new attachment to the classic character while paving the way for new.

Whether McQueen retires at the end or finds a way to remain relevant in the next generation of racing is something we’ll all see June 16. Feel free to give your thoughts or guesses in the comments.
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