Many movies deserve re-watching since they contain a lot of references, easter eggs, and other small details that are easy to miss. So when somebody watches them again, they easily catch things they hadn’t noticed before. This is especially true for fantasy, sci-fi, and animated films, those that create their own, unique worlds. Soul does exactly that – and offers a lot to look at.
As a result, it’s almost impossible to spot all the interesting details the film has to offer. From references to other animated movies to clever little moments, Soul has it all – and discovering its secrets is a part of its charm.
10 Dorothea Williams Crosses Worlds
Dorothea Williams plays a big part in the film since she motivates Joe to keep trying. Joe wants nothing more than play alongside the iconic musician. However, that’s not the first time Dorothea Williams graced the big screen. She was also in Onward (2020), although she didn’t appear in person in the film. Instead, the Lightfoot family in Onward owns Dorothea’s record. It’s possible to spot it in their house in the film’s beginning.
9 The Subway Train
Once they get to New York, Joe wants to show Soul 22 around. That doesn’t change even though Joe’s soul now is in a cat’s body. Joe and Mr. Mittens board a subway train at one point. The subway’s train number is 2319. The same code appeared in the film Monsters, Inc. (2001) and it stated that a human sock has entered the monsters’ world. The connection between the two films is obvious enough – Pete Docter is the director of both Soul and Monsters, Inc.
8 A Familiar Face
Pete Docter has directed multiple animated movies. Soul contains a reference to more than just one. When Joe asks Soul 22 about her voice, she says she can do multiple voices and faces. She demonstrates this ability the next moment. One of the voices and faces she does sounds and looks a lot like Carl Fredricksen from Up (2009). Unsurprisingly, Pete Docter directed Up as well.
7 Everybody Loves Pizza
Everybody loves pizza, except Soul 22. They hate everything about Earth and fear getting born and living on it more than anything else.
Yet when she and Joe end up in New York, it’s not all bad. One of the joys of life Joe presented to Soul 22 before they get to New York, is pizza. Joe shows them a selection of pizzas. There’s a broccoli pizza among them, the exact same one that appeared in the animated movie Inside Out (2015).
6 It’s A Brang!
Let’s stay with Inside Out and the subway in Soul a moment longer. The subway train contains a lot of ads. One of these ads might be familiar to those who know Inside Out by heart. The ad’s for the company Brang, which is the same startup company Riley’s dad in Inside Out worked for. The company is also the main reason why Riley’s family moved to San Francisco in the first place.
5 Unexpected Mentors
The Great Before had a lot of mentors, some of whom were more prominent than others. The place even has a wall with their names on it. While some of the names belong to famous inventors or thinkers, there are three names that stand out because they have a connection to films and comics. Joe Grant was an animator who worked on many films and he helped Pete Docter with Monsters, Inc. (2001). Joe Ranft wrote the screenplay for Toy Story (1995) and he also worked as an animator for Disney and Pixar. Finally, Jack Kirby wrote and drew comic books for Marvel and he helped create many famous superheroes, such as Spider-Man, Captain America, or the Fantastic Four. Including their names in the film pays homage to these extraordinary people.
4 Jimmy Makes Shoes
Another small reference that is easy to miss happens early in the film. One of the storefronts that appear in Soul is Jimmy Shoes. That’s a reference to Jimmy Choo who’s a famous shoe designer who founded his fashion house back in 1996. However, unlike other famous real people, Jimmy Choo doesn’t appear in the film in person.
3 Joe Makes Ray Proud
Joe Gardner spends the better part of the movie trying to fulfill his dreams and make his mom proud at the same time. He doesn’t have it easy since his mom doesn’t want Joe to follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead, she wants Joe to find a solid job and stop trying to make it as a jazz musician.
But when Joe’s mom finally realizes how important music is for him, she lets him have his dad’s suit. When she sees Joe in the suit, she says that Ray would be proud. Ray is Joe’s dad but it’s also the name of Ray Charles, the real-life music legend that Jamie Foxx (who voices Joe) played in the 2004 biopic, Ray.
2 Souls Have Many Hobbies
The souls have a lot of free time in the Great Before, and they spend most of it discovering their hobbies. They try out different things in order to discover their spark. Once they do, they can be born and go to Earth. To discover their spark, they go to the Hall of Everything. When the film takes the audience to the hall, there are souls with a chessboard playing chess. That might be a reference to Pixar’s short film Geri’s Game (1997) that focuses, unsurprisingly, on chess players.
1 It References Two Classic Movies
Finally, Soul references two classical live-action movies. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) is also about a soul who was supposed to die but instead returned back to life. And Soul has a post-credit scene that might be a nod to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). In the scene, Terry pops up once again to remind the audience that the film is over and tells them to go home. That’s a funny joke, because Soul premiered on Disney+, so most viewers will watch it from home anyway.