Will there be a Tron: Legacy Sequel?

By now you're probably getting pretty well used to me giving my thoughts about sequels. But while so far I’ve only talked about existing sequels, what about the as-of-yet unannounced possible sequel to the ultimate movie for computer geeks and gamers the world over?

If you hadn’t guessed, I’m talking about Tron, Tron: Legacy, and whatever the future might hold for the series. Will we see a sequel, and if so, will it be one you’ll want to keep your eyes open for? If these sound like the kind of questions you want the answers to, then read on!

A few days ago, Disney XD began airing Tron: Uprising, an 18-episode, 2D cartoon tie-in to to the Tron series set to fill in some of the gaps between the two motion pictures. Now of course, we knew this would be coming for several months now, but even so, after more than a year since Legacy’s release, it is good to see that Disney is still interested in the franchise and willing to put continued effort into its development. Uprising does not, however, confirm the existence of a full live action continuation of the two stories we’ve already seen, and to be honest, while I can see where another sequel might fit in, I have my doubts as well.

We’ve all got to admit that, though Legacy‘s ending was wonderfully satisfying, it was also left fairly open. All throughout the film we hear about what a game changer it would be for, well, everything, if a computer program–especially an isomorphic algorithm who was spontaneously generated by a computer rather than programmed–was to make it into the real world from the computer world. While we do get to see one such program make it off the Grid and because of that we can know that Kevin Flynn got what he wanted, we never actually saw what this would do for everyone. It seems pretty obvious, then, that combined with this knowledge and the "Next Day" short found on the Bluray edition of Tron Legacy and Bruce Boxleitner himself talking about the subject, that a sequel is “in the works”.

But…what would a sequel be about?

This is the main question that causes me to stop and wonder if a sequel really is coming all that soon, and if so, if it will be a sequel fit to do justice to the last two films and the Tron universe in general. Every plot point we’ve considered thus far for a sequel deals exclusively with the real world, which is interesting and all, but what is Tron without the majority of the film taking place inside a computer?

“Ok, so take them back inside a computer. Problem solved, right?”

Well, not quite.

Essentially, in both existing Tron films, the goal of the main characters once they were inside the computer was just to get back out. Of course they had something they wanted to take out with them–proof that Dillinger was a phony for one, and Kevin Flynn himself for another–and thereby their presence in the computer had plenty of purpose to begin with, but I’m not seeing how that formula could work a third time while being a direct continuation of the storyline we’ve seen thus far. Wouldn’t it undo just a little bit of Tron Legacy for Quorra to make a return to the Grid? After all, she barely made it out the first time, and as the last of her kind, going back in would pose a huge risk to Kevin Flynn’s legacy. On the other hand, it might be interesting to see if Quorra now would be a User after becoming human, but there has to be a better reason for showing us this than just admin powers.

…Dillinger again?

Of course, there is also the little detail about yet another bonus feature on the Bluray release demonstrating a brief text chat between an “EDJ_0431″ and his father, “MCTRL_751″. Of course it’s not hard to figure out that the first person is Edward Dillinger who made a brief appearance in Legacy as a rather upstanding employee at Encom, and his name is mentioned again in the aforementioned "Next Day" short as one of the people who would be sticking around at Encom after Sam took over. And this being the case, the second person must be Ed Dillinger Sr aka Master Control, the first Tron film’s villain.

You just know these guys aren’t going to be happy with Sam Flynn taking over, but…why exactly? Dillinger Jr. may not appreciate the openness Kevin Flynn promoted, which Sam is sure to follow after, but is this reason to do something terribly evil? Dillinger Sr., on the other hand, should really just be grateful he’s not in prison (or is he? Nobody really knows) after stealing Kevin’s programs and publishing them as his own, shouldn’t he?

My point is, just because the ultimate Tron villain might possibly be coming back isn’t enough to inspire confidence in anybody. In fact, up to this point, no human being has really been the ultimate villain in the Tron series at all. In Tron 1, Dillinger himself was even intimidated by the Master Control’s plans for the future, if you recall. It was always the programs–the MCP, Sark, and CLU–that had the worst intentions. Turning the human Dillingers into the main villains now seems a little extreme, doesn’t it? Not to mention it again runs into the first problem we examined: tying a computer-based film too closely to the real world.

The Pre-film verdict

If you know me, you know I have two main questions to pose for any sequel to test its quality. 1) Does the existence of the sequel mar the experience of the original? And 2) Does the sequel have enough merit of itself that, if part 1 had not existed, part 2 would still be worth experiencing?

Regardless of what happens, should a Tron: Legacy sequel appear and it lives up to answering these questions, I will be a happy customer. As it stands, I am a little concerned about the potential storyline challenges the folks at Disney have to face. While the company may be known for creating many classics, it is also notorious for making rather horrible, unnecessary sequels. Many feared Tron: Legacy would be one of them, but thankfully it ended up being one of the best films I’d seen in several years. While I’d love to see yet another Tron film if it means more good things for the series, I’d hate even more to see it crash and burn after coming so far, so well.

The stakes are high and the going is tough for Tron 3, Disney. Don’t disappoint us.