The general consensus is that Onward is good. It may not reach the impossible standards of Inside Out or Toy Story, but even Pixar’s mid-tier fare is stronger than most animated movies being offered today. It’s an offbeat tale of two elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, respectively), who go on a quest to bring their dad back from the dead. Their whole dad — they’ve already got the bottom half. Unlike many Pixar movies, Onward doesn’t have a clear villain character. In The Incredibles, it’s Syndrome. In Up, it’s Charles F. Muntz. In Onward, it’s... time? Maybe?

Polygon interviewed Onward’s story supervisor Kelsey Mann on the topic. Mann explained that in earlier drafts of the script, there was indeed a more traditional villain. But they eventually realized the story worked better without the evil character:

We initially had some more antagonistic forces. In our first couple screenings, we always knew the characters were going to go on a quest to get an item to finish Dad. And something was always guarding it. For the longest time, that was a character... We realized we didn’t really need it. We didn’t want to hear a new point of view on magic. So we nailed down what we have in the film, where something is protecting their ultimate goal, but it’s kind of a mindless machine. And that works a lot better.

In true Pixar fashion, this answer very eloquently sums up why Onward’s story ultimately works. Rather than draw focus from the main theme of family, Pixar decided to delve more into the two brothers’ relationship with their father.

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Onward is playing in theaters now.

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