Lightning McQueen

Lightning McQueen
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Kachow!
Gender: Male
Species: 2006 Custom Built Piston Cup Racer
Portrayed by: Owen Wilson (2006, 2011- present)
Keith Ferguson (2007 - 2017)
Ben Rausch (Cars 3: Driven To Win)
Status: Alive
Media of origin: Cars


Lightning McQueen, also known by his birthname Monty McQueen, or sometimes his other nickname Stickers, given by Sally, is the main protagonist of the Cars franchise, appearing in nearly every installment, with the only exception of the Planes franchise (although a cameo of him was seen on a newspaper, appearing in Planes: Fire & Rescue). In the films, he is the main protagonist of Cars and Cars 3, and the deuteragonist of Cars 2. He is a stock car that competes in the Piston Cup Racing Series since 2006, where he was sponsored by Rust-eze, using the number 95, and won seven Piston Cup championships. In 2017, he became the trainer and crew chief of Cruz Ramirez for the Dinoco Piston Cup team.

Lightning resides in Radiator Springs in Arizona, United States, where his racing headquarters are located. He is in a relationship with Sally Carrera.

Why He's Quicker Than Quick

  1. First and most importantly, Lightning McQueen has insane character development. He starts off as an overconfident and selfish car who takes wanting to win so seriously that he's friendless. Later on, he becomes more sympathetic, friendly, and understanding during his stay at Radiator Springs and meeting some new friends along the way including his best friend Tow Mater.
    • It's noticeable that because of this, he regrets doing bad things all thanks to this experience.
    • Even after his arc in the first movie, he still learns from later movies like in Cars 3, which had Lightning McQueen learn that "he can't be faster than Jackson Storm, but he can be smarter than him", as Smokey puts it.
  2. The scene where he helps The King (who suffered from a crash caused by Chick Hicks) get to the finish line for a respectable finish was nothing short of touching. What's interesting is that Lightning handled his loss pretty well and was still offered to be the mascot of Dinoco despite him losing, presumably because of Chick's actions even though the latter won. Though he didn't want to be Dinoco's new mascot as he decides to complete his contract with Rust-eze.
  3. He has helped Radiator Springs become popular again just by simply setting up a headquarters in Radiator Springs. Thanks to him, the place is now a historical tourist attraction.
  4. In Cars 2, the scene where he uses the rockets he used to keep away from McQueen and more parts of it so on were actually pretty awesome and exciting.
  5. He has a running gag in Mater's Tall Tales where every time Lightning refuses to believe Mater's stories, he denies that it's true only for Mater to mention that he was there. And his placement in the stories is pretty funny despite him being a butt-monkey more often than not.
  6. Owen Wilson and Keith Ferguson did awesome and perfect jobs voicing him.
  7. Lightning McQueen is unique among other Pixar protagonists, as he does technically both lose and win, as that he gave up his Piston Cup title to Chick Hicks so he can help The King finish his last race, but it was meant as a lesson for him as he learned that helping others is more important than winning races and that his heroic actions made him earn applause from the crowd. Therefore, McQueen still loses, but his good sportsmanship makes him the true winner of the eyes of his fans and his new friends from Radiator Springs, due to the actions of Chick Hicks.
  8. Cars 3 gives Lightning McQueen a bigger role (as the main character back again) much like in the first Cars movie after being a side character in Cars 2. In that movie, Lightning also goes into a massive step in his characterization where he went from a famous race car to a struggling veteran because of the new generation of race cars that perform much better than his kind.
  9. His crash scene from Cars 3 is one of the darkest and most emotional moments in the series. It's so impactful that it can make the viewer feel sorry for a fictional, anthropomorphic car of all things.
  10. Just like his late mentor Doc Hudson, Lightning started to teach Cruz Ramirez ever since they both met. He even went as far as giving up the Florida 500 just to give her another chance at racing (which she definitely made count).
  11. Chick Hicks, Tex Dinoco, etc. are on good terms with McQueen.
  12. Despite Doc not being on very good terms with him initially, he was willing to give McQueen advice about racing in dirt.
  13. His stories always teach lessons about how there are more important things in life than winning and being famous. In the first film, he helped out The King even at the cost of his victory in the Piston Cup and in Cars 3, he let Cruz finish the race for him (though both Lightning and Cruz share the win as both were on the same team). With that said, he's unique among another Pixar protagonist due to his role.
  14. He strives to be the best at what he does as a racer.
  15. Another unique thing about him is that in the main films, he always changes his appearance due to his customizations as a car. If you are an engineer who loves to see the vehicles in terms of shape, paint jobs, color schemes, etc., you are going to have a great time checking out all of his different customizations throughout the franchise.
  16. He has a good talent at being the race car that he is today. Yes, even practices as well even though he can outrace each and every of his sport colleagues with little to no effort. That's how humble he is now.

Bad Qualities

  1. Although still likable, he was somewhat slightly flanderized in Cars 2, since he isn't used much as Mater, which is ironic since Lightning is the main character of the franchise and not Mater, considering his little screen time, explaining that he could've been more of a minor character during that film.
    • Cars 2's Major False Advertising: The posters, trailers, TV spots, promotional stills, concept art, and even the DVD cover all seem to give the allusion that Lightning McQueen would be the major main protagonist. And seeing that McQueen and his strong friendship is meant to be the film's main emotional center, having Lightning join the main espionage plot could've taken far better advantage of that. And not only Lightning McQueen is not the real main character, but he's also more of a minor character considering his little screentime.
      • Speaking of which, Mater even made him LOSE the Tokyo race. However, it was just truly an accident. Even though he didn't mean to do so.
  2. The first movie starts him off as a selfish car before he got the huge character development.
  3. He can be pretty much a butt-monkey in some episodes of Mater's Tall Tales.
  4. He can still be selfish sometimes even after the first film, like when he got mad at Mater when he lost the Tokyo race in Cars 2 (though it was understandable for him to get angry at Mater because he was the one who caused it), and when he yells at Cruz for having to protect her in a Demolition Derby (which while less understandable then the former, is still fair enough, since Cruz was supposed to train him).

Trivia

  • His racing number, "95", is a reference to the year 1995, when Pixar's first full-length film, Toy Story was released. Originally, his number was going to be 57, which is the year John Lasseter was born, 1957.
  • Lightning's last name "McQueen" is a reference to Glenn McQueen, a supervising animator at Pixar who passed away in 2002.
  • In the first official teaser trailer of Cars 2, for unknown reasons, Lightning McQueen has his Rust-eze customization on, which never appeared in the sequel. It may be because the new paint job was not finalized at the time of the release of the teaser trailer.
    • Likewise, in the first teaser trailer for Cars 3, McQueen is sporting the original Rust-eze logo when he crashes, unlike the final film with the same scene. His first paint job in the film likely wasn't finalized either at the time of the trailer's release.
      • The said scene in the trailer also takes place in day, instead of night unlike in the film as well.
  • In Toy Story 3, in the Caterpillar Room at Sunnyside Daycare, the viewer can see one of the kids with a white T-shirt with red sleeves and has in the middle of the shirt the 95 racing number with the lightning bolt of Lightning McQueen. A toy similar to Lightning can also be seen.
  • In the first film, Lightning's rear bumper is yellow. This follows NASCAR's tradition of putting yellow rookie stripes on rookie drivers' cars.
  • Lightning's design was inspired by stock cars, and more curvaceous Le Mans endurance racers (Ford GT40).
  • After Lightning's redesign in Cars 2, he has working headlights instead of stickers. However, Sally still calls him "Stickers".
  • Fabulous Lightning McQueen's Mattel diecast prototype had the Dinoco logo on his hood.
  • In Tokyo, an advertisement for a vacuum cleaner named "Lightning McClean" is seen.
  • In the essential guide for Cars 2, McQueen's top speed is mistakenly claimed as 220 mph/354 km/h, which is actually the top speed of Francesco Bernoulli, when in reality, McQueen's top speed in Cars 2 is 200 mph/322 km/h. However, another site claimed that McQueen's top speed was 205 mph/330 km/h.
  • In Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure, Lightning McQueen appears in his Cars 2 attire. However, in his beta model his hood bears the logo for Rust-eze on it instead of the Piston Cup emblem. But this was fixed later though.
  • In the Disney Infinity sequels, several of his quotes are omitted, including the "Whoo-hoo!" quote made when he does an air trick, and the quotes he says when meeting the cast members. Additionally, his quotes are somehow not covered by the subtitles in the third game.
  • A 1:55 scale die-cast of Lightning McQueen, along with Chick Hicks and Brush Curber, appear in one of the exhibit elements at The Science Behind Pixar exhibition.
  • His famous catchphrase, "Ka-chow!", is said briefly by Mayday in Planes: Fire & Rescue, when he is showing some Rust-eze Medicated Bumper Ointment on his bumper (although the DVD and Blu-Ray subtitles mistake it as if Mayday was sneezing instead of saying, "Ka-chow!").
    • It is possible that this could be a pun of "Ah-choo!"
  • In Cars, Lightning has fourteen different paint variants, ranging from different amounts of dirt and dust to his "Dinoco", "Cruising" and "Radiator Springs" paint jobs.
  • There was a talking Lightning McQueen toy made in Hungary. Strangely, his number is 63, like Lee Revkins. Unfortunately, no pictures have been found.
    • It is possible that this was more of an off-brand some sort of thing.
  • Early concept arts suggest that he was originally blue, instead of red.
  • Lightning McQueen makes a reappearance as one of many extra playable Pixar characters in Lego The Incredibles.
  • McQueen's paint job seen in Cars Toons: Tales from Radiator Springs and Cars: Fast as Lightning did not receive a normal die-cast release. Only a special metallic version was made available.
  • In the second-to-last episode of the Disney show Amphibia, there is a car that appears in the background in one scene resembling McQueen's paint job and appearance in the first Cars movie.

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