Pixar has been one of the leading names in animation for decades now. However, it was only in 2020’s movie ‘Soul’ that the studio had its first black lead character, Joe Gardner. That made us wonder, what other black characters from Pixar do we remember?
From ‘The Incredibles’ Frozone to Alisha and Izzy Hawthorne from ‘Lightyear,’ I’m bringing you the ultimate list of the ten best black Pixar characters of all time. Seeing that many Pixar movies don’t really involve people, per se, but rather fictional creatures and beings, I have included all the awesome characters that have been voiced by black actors on this list, as well.
The list is not ranked or ordered in any particular way. Enjoy!
Lucius Best, aka Frozone, was voiced by the legendary Samuel L. Jackson in both ‘The Incredibles’ and ‘The Incredibles 2.’ He is one of the best friends of the titular family, with a keen style and snarky attitude – Frozone is definitely a part of the heart and soul of these films.
His superpowers include freezing anything instantly and creating a big, sturdy construct made entirely out of ice.
2. Joe Gardner
Joe Gardner was a history-making character, the first black lead character in a Pixar feature film. Joe was a school music teacher and an incredibly talented jazz musician who never really lived up to his dreams. After a shocking accident takes Joe’s life, he finds himself in the land where infant souls try to find their way to live in a body on Earth.
The movie was absolutely brilliant, but make sure to prepare tons of tissues before watching it. The amazing voice behind Joe Gardner belongs to Jaime Foxx, who once again proved what a chameleon of an actor he is.
3. Alisha Hawthorne
Alisha Hawthorne was one of the main reasons why I absolutely loved ‘Lightyear.’ She was Buzz Lightyear’s commanding officer and his best friend. After their spaceship crashed on an alien planet, they had to experiment with crystal fusion to repair their vessel if they ever wanted to leave the planet.
Buzz was selected as the test pilot, and time had flown differently for him while flying. What was merely minutes to him was years for Alisha and the people on the alien planet. So, as Buzz remained young, Alisha grew old. However, she still married a beautiful woman, had a kid, and lived a wonderful life. She was ultimately the grandmother of Izzy Hawthorne, which we’ll mention below.
The talented Uzo Aduba voiced Alisha.
4. Izzy Hawthorne
Izzy Hawthorne is the granddaughter of Buzz Lightyear’s best friend, Alisha, who grew old as Buzz remained young due to time flowing differently for him as a Space Ranger. Izzy was an enthusiastic cadet who dreamed of becoming a Space Ranger just like Alisha and Buzz, even though she was cripplingly afraid of space.
She eventually overcame that fear and was a huge help to Buzz and all the people who were members of the society on the alien planet. She did, in fact, become a Space Ranger.
Keke Palmer gave Izzy a voice.
5. Ducky & Bunny
Ducky and Bunny are by far my favorite supporting characters in any of the four ‘Toy Story’ movies. They appeared in ‘Toy Story 4’ as two carnival prize stuffed toys that desperately wanted to be loved by a child. Their keen sense of humor set them apart and made them absolute fan-favorite characters, and for good reason.
Eventually, they chose not to be ‘adopted’ by a kid but rather stayed at the carnival to help other misfortune toys find their homes and kids. Although Ducky and Bunny are simply stuffed toys, they belong on this list because they were voiced by none other than Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele – one of the most hilarious African-American duos in, like, ever.
Fluke and Rudder were actually minor characters in Pixar’s ‘Finding Dory’ – but their role was super memorable and hilarious. They were two lazy California sea lions that had “their rock” from which they rarely ever came off. Whenever Gerald – a dimwitted sea lion – tried climbing onto their rock, they repeatedly barked, ‘Off! Off! Off!’ at him until he went away.
It was a funny gag for ‘Finding Nemo’ fans, as their ‘bark’ closely resembled the ‘Mine! Mine! Mine!’ caw of the seagulls from that movie. Fluke was voiced by the superstar actor Idris Elba.
7. Nurse George
In 2009’s ‘Up,’ Nurse George was only a minor character who tried convincing Carl to come with them and join the Shady Oaks Retirement Village, where George and his colleague A.J. worked. They watch in shock and awe as Carl’s home starts flying away.
The thing is, George and A.J. got their own animated short movie called ‘George & A.J., where we learn a bit more about them. The short sees other elderly escape George and his colleague in various hilarious ways, such as having their house float away, being pulled away by cats, etc.
Don Fullilove voiced Nurse George in ‘Up’ and by Jason Topolski in ‘George & A.J.’
8. Poppa Henry
Poppa Henry is a big, important character in Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur.’ He was the brave father of Buck, Libby, and Arlo and a devoted husband to his wife, Momma Ida. Poppa had always believed in Arlo and was one of my favorite characters in the movie. His untimely death in a river accident was absolutely devastating.
Poppa Henry is not African-American, as he is not a human character, obviously, but he was voiced by a very talented black actor, Jeffrey Wright.
9. Corey the Manticore
I always thought ‘Onward’ was an underrated, or at least underappreciated, Pixar film. Corey the Manticore is one of the major supporting characters that really stuck with me. She’s a thousand-year-old manticore who was once a brave warrior and an owner of a tavern where brave travelers stopped to rest while on great quests.
However, as times changed and the need for daring quests dwindled, Corey reimagined her tavern as a family-friendly restaurant. Still, her adventurous spirit lurked within her – she just didn’t know it until it was desperately needed. Corey the Manticore was voiced by the amazing, award-winning actress Octavia Spencer.
We just hope that the pies from Corey’s restaurant weren’t the same as the one made by Octavia Spencer’s character Minny from the movie ‘Help.’ If you know, you know…
10. Wade Ripple
Last but not least, the latest Pixar movie, ‘Elemental,’ introduced us to Wade Ripple (although he technically had a super minor came in ‘Lightyear’ beforehand). Wade is a water guy who’s highly emotional, observant, compassionate, and caring. He breaks the rules by falling in love with Ember Lumen, a fire girl whose relationship doesn’t sit well with their elders.
Seeing that ‘elemental’ is still quite fresh and just recently dropped on Disney+, I’m assuming that many of you haven’t had the chance to watch it yet, so I’ll refrain from spoilers. The last thing I’ll add is that although Wade is a character literally made out of water, he belongs on this list due to the actor giving him his voice – the talented Mamoudou Athie.
Have something to add? Let us know in the comments below!