From Screen Rant Pitch Meetings: "Well, I think it's important for kids to understand that their loved ones that died first of all didn't try hard enough to come back, and also weren't inspiring enough."
Courtesy of 22's stint as a Lost Soul: Words hurt, and their effect can linger far longer than the emotions that prompted those words. So be careful what you say in the heat of the moment; you might cut deeper and leave longer-lasting impressions than you intended.
If you're trying to learn something, really trying, but for some reason you just don't get it, a hands-on learning experience might be a better approach for you.
AJR's "Overture" playing in the teaser trailer, specifically the piano portion which really helps establish the premise of the movie.
Joes piano flourish that he plays in front of Dorothea Williams is stunning, lively, and beautiful.
A lot of the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross counts as this, but the standout has to be Epiphany, which plays when Joe realizes he needs to make amends with 22 and allow them to live on Earth.
When he first lands in the Great Before, Joe worries he's in Hell, which he quickly censors to "H-E-double-hockey-sticks" for the benefit of the innocent new souls around him. They immediately ask, "Hell? Hell?" and continue chanting it for the rest of the scene.
A cute little soul happily declaring itself "a manipulative megalomaniac who's intensely opportunistic," and the Jerries sending it off to Earth without a care, since it will no longer be their problem.
Connie, the trombone playing student in Joe's class quickly became quite popular.
Mr. Mittens, the hospital's therapy cat was slowly getting treated this way throughout the development leading to the film's premiere. First only appearing as a pair of ears next to Joe in earlier posters for the movie to finally having complete awareness of their existence. Especially when it comes to merchandise.
There are quite a few theories that 22 becomes some other Pixar character, the most popular guesses being Boo (who is already considered to be the Witch from Brave according to the Pixar Theory) and Riley. Due to 22's explanation of not having a biological sex, theorizers also postulated that rather than being born a girl, 22 could've became Russell; Dash, or Miguel.
To a lesser degree, there is some discussion on who the soul that claimed to be a manipulative, megalomaniac would become. Some cite Syndrome or Evelyn Deavor as the likeliest candidates.
Esoteric Happy Ending: Played for Laughs with the Hedge Fund Trader. The Mystics Without Borders help a lost soul find his purpose and return to Earth. Cut to the soul reentering his body, having a mid-life crisis realization at his job, and completely trashing his and his coworkers' workstations while screaming like a crazy person. Hopefully he didn't have too much trouble finding a new job...
Fanfic Fuel: 22s collection of name tags shows a ton more historical figures who tried to mentor her. Have fun imagining how they all went.
At the end of the film, 22 is going to be born as a human. What will she be like? What will she do? Will she still be a 'she', even?
Not surprisingly, the film was very warmly received by fans of Inside Out, Pete Docter's previous Pixar classic which also featured psychological and philosophical concepts and largely took place in a metaphysical setting, with plenty of ideas for a crossover quickly popping up after this film's releasenote And if you want to be extra meta, doing so would reunite the beloved Weekend Update duo of Tina Fey (22) and Amy Pohler (Joy). In fact, had it not been for its Release Date Change, Soul would have also debuted exactly five years to the day after Inside Out.
With Coco as well, since both were also made by Pixar and feature the idea of the Afterlife, with passions — specifically for music — and legacies being heavy themes in both. It's a general headcanon that the Land of the Dead and the Great Before are equivalents. Not to mention both films being specific to a nonwhite culture (the former for Mexicans and the latter for African-Americans).
To a much lesser extent, the Soul fandom also goes along with the Trolls franchise (though there aren't many crossovers made between them), mainly due to the latter's second installment, which like Soul had to be released on VOD due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, has a focus on music (though it was the principal one in the case of Trolls World Tour), and features a minority of metaphysical elements, in that case with the heart.
The fact that 22 had hundreds of famous mentors who ended up frustrated and annoyed by her is something of a Running Gag near the beginning. It's much less funny after she becomes a lost soul, and we find out that despite her snarky demeanor she took their rejection badly, and always thought there was something wrong about her because of that.
After the credits, there's a stinger where Terry shouts at the viewer "Oi! Movie's over! Go home!" While this would've been a funny moment in the theaters, Soul became one of the many 2020 movies impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, forcing it to skip its theatrical release and debut on streaming instead, meaning that most of the viewers who finally got to see it already were watching the movie at home.
Andrew Jackson was a slave-holding political figure from the opposing party of Lincoln's previous generation, and Jackson wasn't featured on the $20 bill (or any money) until after Lincoln's death, so Abe's reaction makes complete sense.
"Don't waste your time on the junk of life."note A line said in the teaser, it inspired many jokes about people making reckless decisions, much like the guy throwing his working computers on the ground.
"Even in a Pixar movie, the Black Dude Dies First".note Making fun of the fact that Joe falling into a manhole is one of the first things shown in the teaser.
"What if Black people had feelings?"note A long-running joke about Pixar is that their pitch for every film is "What if X had feelings?", with the joke previously reaching its climax with "What if feelings had feelings?", until this film led to the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that this particular question is what led to Pixar creating their first Black lead.
"Quiet coyote."note When Joe gets dogpiled by a bunch of new souls in The Great Before, Jerry calls them off by doing the "quiet coyote" gesture, a popular technique among those who work with large groups of children in which you make your hand look like a coyote's (by putting the tips of your middle two fingers to your thumb) to get their attention and quiet them down. While the movie didn't invent this technique, it seems to be on its way to popularizing it, if not just making it funny thanks to Alice Braga channeling every impatient parent and schoolteacher in her hilarious reading of the line.
Parodies of the film's logo have been made with other series on Twitter, mostly works with "soul" in the title, the biggest example being Dark Souls.
Misaimed Marketing: Both the first poster and the teaser prominently feature Joe in his human form, which lead many to believe that this was going to be a more "mundane" Pixar movie like Up. Of course, it's worth noting while he's not in his body the whole time, human Joe is the character/body who appears the most throughout the film.
Nightmare Fuel: The Lost Souls. They are souls who enter "The Zone" when they become fixated on an obsession, turn into black hulking creatures with glowing green eyes and utter a Madness Mantra while they work through their obsession. This fate befalls 22 after her visit to Earth when she enters The Zone", mumbling, "No purpose. No purpose."
We even get to see what happens inside her Lost Soul form, and its not pretty. Shes basically trapped in a dark Pocket Dimension in a constant self-inflicted Mind Rape, as she repeats, through giant shadowy version of her past mentors (now including Joe), every bad things they said to her as they give up on her. For those who suffer from low self esteem and anxiety issues, it can be a soul-crushing experience.
Paranoia Fuel: Related to the above, YOU, reading this, could be a Lost Soul yourself, so obsessed with your passion that it blinds you to everything else in your life. Your work? Your hobby? Your phone? This very site? If you've ever obsessed over something without realizing it, your soul could end up in the black desert.
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Having a singular passion or purpose in life is great, but it's not the same as living, nor is it the one thing about your live that can/should make you happy. It's the little things in-between the exciting ones that make life worth living.
The first two trailers caused a bit of controversy with the indication that it would be one of (surpassingly) many animated features with a perceived "separate but equal" plot of having its BIPOC main human character spend a majority of the film as an animal or otherwise nonhuman being (other examples being The Princess and the Frog,Brother Bear and Spies in Disguise). The movie proper zig-zags this a little bit: Joe's consciousness isn't in his own body for a majority of the film, but the cat that it is in is on screen in virtually every scene with his body when it's occupied by 22. Nevertheless, all future advertisements either played up the scenes of Human!Joe or downplayed any indication that his body and soul weren't one and the same for most of the time they're on screen.
The full trailer was also criticized for spoiling a major plot point (Joe isn't actually dead — yet). That being said, this specific moment only happens at the end of the first act, so it is not much of a spoiler.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: A rather unusual example in that it's less about objectionable content and more due to being far more introspective and existential than other Pixar films. Due to this, the movie's themes tend to leave kids asking a lot of questions while resonating with older members of the audience. In fact, several reviews recommend not letting children under 8 watch the movie due to it being far too confusing for them.
Win the Crowd: The official trailer offset many worries brought on by the teaser by showcasing the more surreal and emotional elements and the film's Awesome Art, and it only increased more with each trailer and TV spot to come afterwards.
WTH, Casting Agency?: While Tina Fey's performance as 22 was generally well-received, due to her controversial history of using racial humour note most notably, writing episodes of 30 Rock in which characters don blackface, some found it inappropriate for her to play a character that spends a significant chunk of the film in the body of a black man.