Joe Gardner is the main character of Soul. He's a middle school band teacher who dreams about performing jazz music onstage thus getting the chance to do so after impressing other jazz musicians during an opening act at the Half Note Club. One day he fell down a manhole which leads him to a coma (as in a state where he's not either dead or alive) and turned into a soul. He wants to get his soul into his body, but he has to put up with 22 who happens to be a soul from The Great Before.
Why He Rocks
- Joe is an excellent musician as he's got a heart for jazz. It's like he feels so passionate about jazz. Speaking of his passion, Joe had this serious talk with his mom about his passion as he knows that he wants to be a musician.
- The scene where 22 and Joe swap bodies with a cat (Joe) and Joe's original body (22) was pretty funny.
- He's the first Pixar main character to be African-American. While it may be just a trivial reason, Joe's character as an African-American does a good job at what Joe is in a non-SJW or stereotypical way. There's a reason for that as it fits well with how African-Americans being tied with jazz history.
- Joe and 22's relationship is legit reasonable as many viewers will understand how realistic it feels to be with a cocky partner (22). As the movie progresses, Joe taught 22 what really is like being on Earth just by showing her the enjoyments of the simple things in life such as getting pizza. At one point, Joe and 22 had a conflict because 22 wanted to live despite being in Joe's body. Even Joe felt terrible after seeing what 22 did as he was able to restore 22's lost soul state back to normal. He even wanted to sacrifice the badge that Joe had to give it to 22 just so she can go to earth. Later on, this lead to Joe being able to be an inspiration and was returned to the living due to a second chance.
- His reasoning as to why he wants to get back to Earth makes sense as he felt like he didn't do much with his life. But as he returns to living at the end, he decides to live his life to the fullest learning that a spark and purpose are not the same things as it gives him the idea of what it means to have a soul. So you see, life is a blessing, even what it doesn't go as we planned.
- The sequence where Joe plays the piano while getting into the zone and have memories of his life was touching. It makes Joe a sympathetic character to understand what has he gone through in this movie.
- His personality is mostly inspirational, well-meaning, and loving as he is either a musician or a soul. You can actually tell by his role as the main character.
- Character development: Joe was self-obsessive and insecure about his life purpose, but he gets on good terms as the movie progresses. In fact, we got to live on Earth in the best way possible. This proves that's he's got a realistic characterization as Soul would normally take place in New York City albeit still fictional as it also takes place before life and the afterlife.
- When he tried to get back to his body as a soul, he rushed.
- At first, he was self-obsessive and insecure about his life purpose. He even fell down a manhole.
- In fact, he ignored all other dangers because he was on the phone, however, he does avoid getting hurt from those other things.
- He's inspired by Kemp Powers who is an American film screenwriter and playwright. Powers based several elements of Joe on his personal life, as the character's story shared several elements with Powers' own, but also wanted him to "transcend [his] own experience" in order to make the character more accessible.
- He was originally going to be a scientist but was a musician because it would be a profession the audience could root for.