Co-writer/director Dan Scanlon based his Disney/Pixar animated fantasy on the father he never knew and his relationship with his own older brother. https://t.co/AOsBdRZwsM— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 7, 2020
In Onward, the teenage elf Ian uses a spell to bring his father who died before he was born back to life for twenty four hours, but it goes wrong and only the lower half of his body is brought back, so Ian goes on a quest with his older brother Barley to complete the spell.
At the end of the movie, Ian realizes Barley has been the real parental figure he needed.
Director Ian Scanlon says the idea came from a conversation with his friend Meg LeFauve, who co-wrote Pixar’s “Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur.”
“I was actually telling her how much I didn't miss my dad because I didn't have anything to miss, (and sharing) a little bit of the guilt I felt about that. But I had also been telling her about my brother and how he would put my paintings in college or high school up on his walls. He would show friends movies I made when I was a kid. He was always supportive of me.”
LeFauve told him that the reason he didn't miss his father was because his brother was his father. Scanlon says this realization "changed my life and my relationship with my brother in the best ways."
More at the source.