50 Mentor Names We Could Read on That Wall in ‘Soul’

Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) walks by the wall of name tags in Soul. Disney+

The legendary Pixar screenwriter and animator Joe Ranft, whose life was taken by a car accident in 2005, has a small role in the new Disney streaming film Soul—though you may missed it if your eyes focus too much on the more famous names in the scene. Like so many Pixar films that came before it, Soul is full of easter eggs, whether they appear in the background like the Pizza Planet truck from Toy Story or as objects in the rooms characters inhabit, like the bouncing ball from the original Luxo, Jr. animated short.

One of the most striking easter eggs comes about a third of the way into the film, when Tina Fey’s character 22 shows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx) her wall of mentors who have failed over the decades and centuries to give her a spark, despite their collective, obvious creative genius. Ranft, who wrote Toy Story and who himself was mentored by the legendary Disney animator Eric Larson, makes the wall, alongside the likes of Jack Kirby, Amelia Earhart, Johnny Cash and more.

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The list of experts, creatives and inspirational visionaries who mentored 22 over the years before Joe gets his shot in the narrative of Soul is long, varied and representative of many different time periods and nationalities. Here we’ve zoomed in closely to compile a list of every mentor we could make out.*

  1. Vincent van Gogh
  2. Nellie Bly
  3. Copernicus
  4. Leonardo da Vinci
  5. Marvin Gaye
  6. George Orwell
  7. Joe Grant
  8. Babe Ruth
  9. Joe Ranft
  10. Jack Kirby
  11. Harvey Milk
  12. Marie Černá
  13. Maya Tsosie
  14. Stephen Hawking
  15. Herman Jakobs
  16. Nelson Mandela
  17. Johannes Gutenberg
  18. Jan Kowalski
  19. Abraham Lincoln
  20. Catherine the Great
  21. Joan of Arc
  22. Thomas Edison
  23. Amelia Earhart
  24. Confucius
  25. Eleanor Roosevelt
  26. Ts’ai Lun
  27. Marie Antoinette
  28. Mahatma Gandhi
  29. Johnny Cash
  30. Harriet Tubman
  31. Grace O’Malley
  32. Anna Kowalczyk
  33. Pawet Jankowski
  34. Balogh Tamás
  35. Marie Curie
  36. Prince Rogers Nelson
  37. Aretha Franklin
  38. Petar Jankovic
  39. Muhammad Ali
  40. Albert Einstein
  41. María Izquierdo
  42. Jiří Svobada
  43. Archimedes
  44. Martin Luther King Jr.
  45. Pablo Picasso
  46. William Taylor
  47. John Wilson
  48. Emine Demir
  49. Mary Johnson
  50. Mike Oznowicz

There are plenty more we couldn’t read or verify the full names of, for one reason or another, but what’s most striking here, in my opinion, was how personal some of the selections like Ranft’s felt. Alongside hugely popular and well-known names like Gandhi or Da Vinci, the creative team behind Soul chose to include the likes of wildly influential comics artist Jack Kirby and the puppeteer Isidore “Mike” Oznowicz — father of Frank Oz. In the film, the scene serves to show Joe how intimidating a challenge it will be to get 22 a spark for herself. Like the best of Pixar’s work, the background is proof that the details matter.

50 Mentor Names We Could Read on That Wall in ‘Soul’