On Monday, the teaser for Cars 3 hit YouTube. Cars 2 was widely panned, and when Cars 3 was announced, people wondered why Pixar and Disney were bothering with it, as if Cars 2 hadn’t grossed $562 million.

It was probably fair to expect that Cars 3 would continue with the silly-to-stupid aspects of the series that Cars 2 highlighted; namely, the antics of Mater, the tow-truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy; failing that, the third film might revert back to the more sentimental aspects of the original movie.

The teaser is the first look at the movie’s tone, and it’s, well… take a look:

Good lord! This is a children’s movie about anthropomorphic race cars, right? There were accidents in prior films, of course, but nothing with this sort of implicit (and maybe explicit?) violence on screen.

Is this the Batman Begins or the Casino Royale of the Cars franchise? Does the world really need a grim reboot of Cars?

For reference, here’s the trailer for the original Cars:

And here’s Cars 2:

So what the hell?

Here are a few potential plotlines based on the teaser, in no particular order:

1.) It’s just a dream. Lightning McQueen, intrepid hero, feels like the world has passed him by and he’s no longer needed or at the top of his game. Basically the Toy Story 3 conundrum. This crash is a nightmare from which he wakes up, and is the catalyst for a brief retirement, from which he’s coaxed to win some big race at the end, probably having reunited the ol’ gang, proving this old car really does have a few tricks left.

The tagline doesn’t necessarily support this idea, since it promises the action moving forward will be entirely based on this moment, which might be a bit much for a dream sequence. But the lighting and race action does seem like a departure from the racing in the earlier films. (Though, obviously, that could just mean the whole movie really is darker.)

2.) It’s a scene near the beginning of the movie, in which Lightning really does crash, and then the rest of the movie plays out pretty much just like how I predicted in theory #1.

3.) He crashes and is unable to race again, and needs to figure out some way to find meaning without pursuing the passion, fame, and riches that once drove him. (Literally, in this case.) Maybe he visits the junkyard where ol’ Doc Hudson’s remains are kept, has a long emotional talk about life’s meaning without the roar of the engines, the crowd, and/or the crowd’s engines, before figuring out that the best things in life are the friendships you make with other anthropomorphic motorized vehicles.

4.) He’s dead.

Cars 3 hits theaters in 2017, and it’s sure to be fun for the whole family!

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.