'TRON 3': How to make it better than 'TRON: Legacy'


Image Credit: Disney

When TRON: Legacy hits Blu-Ray early next month, it will arrive with a ten-minute long bonus video which teases a potential TRON threequel. The video has hit the Internet, and it’s mostly a feast for mythology-heads, taking the form of a pseudo-documentary which traces the fall of ENCOM, the rise of a Banksy-esque band of rebel hackers, and a cameo appearance by one of the cast members of the original TRON. (Check out the full video below.) The teaser, titled “The Next Day,” is definitely intended as a soft set-up for TRON 3.0.

Now, Legacy wasn’t exactly the box office bonanza that Disney was expecting, but it did well enough to possibly justify a sequel. From a qualitative standpoint, the movie was far from perfect — EW’s Owen Gleiberman gave the film a B — but to me, that’s an opportunity. Plenty of franchises don’t hit their stride till the second entry: X-Men, Spider-Man, and Hellboy were all marred by serious problems, but they all led into incredible sequels. With that in mind, let’s look at TRON: Legacy as a nice work of throat-clearing, and consider the five main ways that a potential sequel (TRON: Legacy’s Legacy?) could improve:

1. Less real-world shenanigans
The digital universe of TRON is visually fantastic — simultaneously futuristic and retro. So why is it that both TRON films spend so long dawdling in boring ol’ reality? The original TRON opens with a long, long prologue set in the real world that brings up several go-nowhere plot points — corporate backstabbery! romantic triangle! the notion that video arcades used to look like Studio 54! — that instantly disappear once the film shifts to the digital world. TRON: Legacy weirdly imitated this structure, with an extended opening that basically played as a mini-remake of Batman Begins: same absent-daddy issues, same skyscraper stunts, and Batman‘s Cillian Murphy even stopped by for a cameo. Keep Tron 3 focused on the digital world, and leave the techno-corporate chicanery to Gizmodo.

2. Show us the nooks and crannies of the digital universe
TRON: Legacy mostly avoided delving too far into the actual culture of the digital universe. With one exception: the eye-popping nightclub sequence, which introduced Michael Sheen as a Ziggy Stardust-channeling crimelord and indicated that TRON‘s digi-people enjoy sipping some neon vodka and listening to French techno. Nothing grounds a mythology-heavy action movie like some ambient world-building — recall Star Wars‘s Mos Eisley Cantina, or Hellboy 2‘s Goblin Market.

3. No more long speeches about extremely vague digital theology
It was fun seeing Jeff Bridges return to the TRON franchise, but weirdly, his Kevin Flynn was arguably the least successful element of Legacy. Pitched somewhere between Gandalf and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Flynn was mostly around to provide lengthy nonsensical exposition, with the occasional nonsensical one-liner sprinkled in — “Bio-digital jazz, man!” The last couple Pirates of the Caribbean movies had a similar issue with extensive exposition — if memory serves, roughly half an hour of At Worlds’ End focused on pirate bureaucracy, which turns out is just as boring as normal bureaucracy. Legacy was at its best when it focused on the interplay between the characters and the pure lightshow thrill of the digital universe. Fortunately, this problem is already half-solved, since (SPOILER ALERT) neither Jeff Bridges made it out of TRON: Legacy alive. (Well, probably.) Now, just delete any reference to “isomorphic algorithms” from the TRON 3.0 screenplay, and we’ll be golden.

4. More Olivia Wilde, please
Wilde didn’t really have very much to do in TRON: Legacy. That’s a shame, since the Quorra character was easily the most interesting — a computer program endlessly curious about the real world. Given that Wilde has typically veered towards vampier roles, her casual charm as Quorra was a genuine surprise. Add in the fact that Quorra was supposed to be some sort of digital Messiah, and it’s even stranger that she was mostly relegated to a supporting role. (I am obligated to point out that Wilde is not unattractive.) Since we’re on the subject of “more,” it’s arguably impossible to have too much Boxleitner in a single film.

5. When in doubt, just let Daft Punk go insane
The French robot duo provided TRON Legacy with an essential musical backbone that arguably lifted the whole enterprise — particularly during Legacy‘s eye-popping action scenes. Their soundtrack is addictive. I can’t stop talking about it. I’m listening to it right now. I say, if Disney opts for a threequel, they give Daft Punk carte blanche to go totally bonkers with the sequel soundtrack. Like, Beach-Boys-recording-Smile bonkers.

PopWatchers, how would you improve the TRON franchise for its third go-round? It’s worth pointing out that the video below hints that Cillian Murphy may actually play the villain in the next installment, which is already trading up from “Evil Young Jeff Bridges.” Check it out:

Comments (87 total) Add your comment
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  • larry

    more white people

    • JoeC


    • Will


      Get rid of the main actor, Garrett Hedlund, and replace him with someone who can actually ACT. Movie is twice as good already.

      • Sam

        Hedlund did fine. Stop hating.

      • Eva

        He did a great job. Even if I can agree that some people could have done it better, Michael cerra for exmple ^^

      • Tarc

        Michael Cera? Ew. No.

      • Matt

        @Eva: Whatever you’re smoking, STOP immediately. WTF — Michael Cera? You need a kick in the pu$$y for being so stupid.

    • Isabel

      Hedlund is cute, white people are not all that bad, and Micheal Cera does not need a kick in the lady nutts, just a smack in the face. And, yes, Sam, Hedlund did do very fine indeed.

  • therealeverton

    Actually, unlike The Matrix, the real world is important, because to be honest most of the digital characters are not too interesting or something to care about at all.

    Make the digital characters more interesting, make whether they “live” or “die” relevent.

    Don’t think that visuals are enough. They are not and one of the Avatar Myths was dealt another blow by Tron Legacy.( Alice in Wonderland Myth too). People didn’t love that film because it was pretty and in 3D, they were the icing. The story, whilst faamiliar, was interesting and told in an interesting way. Tron 2.0, not so much.

    Eye Candy & 3D does not + $1b plus on its own

    • Leslie

      I agree with therealeverton. The real world is important. It gives depth to the characters, makes them more privy to the emotions of the audience. We understand them to be one of us, not merely lost in a digital world. I thought tron legacy hit a great balance between real world and digital world.

      But yes!!! More Olivia Wilde! Love her, and her messiah-esque character could be really nicely developed.

      • Isabel

        YEAAHHHH! GO REAL WORLD! REAL WORLD ROCKS! Oh, and yeah, Olivia Wilde did a-MAY-ziiiiing!

  • tracy bluth

    I actually enjoyed TRON Legacy, though maybe it’s because I wasn’t expecting much from it. I love the original TRON but it is pretty cheesy, and I wasn’t surprised the sequel was the same. But yeah, Daft Punk’s soundtrack was amazing (still mad they weren’t Oscar nominated)

    • Isabel

      You are right. I’m also mad Daft Punk was not nominated. Buuuuut… TRON was nominated for sound mixing.

  • Quirky

    The one thing I’ve never been able to understand about Tron Legacy is why would Disney give a movie with a $200 million budget to a first time director? I think a more experienced director would have greatly improved the film’s pacing so all of the tedious exposition wouldn’t have brought the movie to a screeching halt every 10 to 15 minutes.

    • Isabel

      Well, thay just want to see how well that director does with that kind of movie.

    • Gorhob

      I agree, the directing was the only thing I could really fault this movie on, pacing seemed very off to me and some of the shots during conversations were strange… Yes Olivia Wilde is pretty, but you don’t need to cut to her every 10 seconds.

  • billy

    The realeverton… I disagree… I saw it 4 times mostly for olivia wilde and the 3d effects. I think that oliva wilde definately added to the greatness of the movie when i was somewhat bored by the first one… I however would not mind a bit more plot than just “lets get out of here” and all the star wars references… although olivia is a must for me to see any movie with the schedule I have nowadays

    • therealeverton

      I know when we comment on blogs / articles like this it has a tendency to come across as an absolute. Of course not everyone will be turned off by so much style over substance, neither will style over substance always be a bad thing. There will e plenty of people who shared your experience and some level of repeat viewing. However the blog only exists because the movie was ‘relatively’ disappointing. The numbers are simple; Disney were clear that this was meant to be “The 3D event of the year”. Now whilst even a James Cameron double bill of Avatar 2 and James Cameron’s Aliens VS. Terminator shouldn’t be burdened $1b expectation, with Avatar’s $2.78b, followed by Disney’s own Allice In Wonderland passing $1b as well, the 3D event of the year, costing over $170m really can’t be happy with around $400m. That difference shows a large number of people were never inspired to see the movie I’n the first place and not enough felt your need for repeat viewings. If everyone who went went again the film would still be over $200m behind Alice, the true 3D event of 2010 (Avatar’s 2010 gross doesn’t count)

      • Tarc

        I (and a whole lot of other pretty bright people) thought that there was plenty of substance in Tron Legacy – most people just weren’t smart enough to clue in. I’ll wave part of that problem to the director, but part of it is very lazy audiences.

      • therealeverton

        I never said it lacked substance, and I’m not one of those AICN types who believes that just because a movies isn’t the best, or most intelligent, then the people who like it must lack intelligence.

        I said that there wasn’t enough effort, or thought, put into that substance as the balance was too heavy on the “wow, look what we can do” and having Bridges and co try to thump us over the head with exposition in lieu of really selling the core of the movie. The depth was far more hinted at that it was there and that was poor writing, poor direction and posssibly poor editing too.

        Sometimes, when the weight of both critical opinion and public opinion goes a certain way, globaly, then it means that’s the way it is. An awful lot of people didn’t find what was on offer interesting enough, worse still, whether down to unfocused marketing or just the film itself, too many people were simply not shown enough “substance” in the trailers to bother going in the first place.

      • Tarc

        Actually, you argued for a case of significantly more style than substance – something that I obviously disagree with. It was not a perfect film – it needed another script polish and a more vetran director – but there is a great deal more substance there than most (60%+) viewers seemed to be able to catch from the film.

  • Dave

    I actually really liked Tron: Legacy. I found it thoroughly enjoyable, from its plot to the visuals to the characters to the music. I was surprised when it was received by most people as mediocre at best.

  • Tonic

    Pretty much anything will make it better…and it’d be hard to make it worse.

  • DavidJ

    The only thing I think Tron Legacy really needed was MORE ACTION. The movie was exciting and fun as hell early on, but after the games and lightcycle sequence, well…. not a whole lot happens.
    They definitely need to pace the story and action a lot better in the next one.

    • Tarc

      Actually, a lot happned – you just didn’t follow. Perhaps the Transformers franchise is more your speed.

      • jif

        damn somebody remembered to drink their snide-juice this morning.

      • Tarc

        That’s why Faux News has ratings – no one likes the truth. It’s not snide – it’s just too much for you to handle.

  • MhM

    weird movie..could of been so much better.

  • JoeC

    I am obligated to point out that Olivia Wilde is hot, enough to justify a sequel, lol!

  • Fred

    I only went to see “TRON: Legacy” because it was in 3D and looked really pretty. Maybe because I had low expectations, I enjoyed it so, I don’t know, but I thought it was pretty good. I do, however, have a method of improvement: Let Daft Punk, as Darren said, go completely insane, compose some massive, epic, two hour-ish long composition and set it to lots of fantastic visuals. Story? Meh. Just more Daft Punk and more of the Grid. That’s all we need.

    • Olau76

      It was really pretty! There were a bunch of times when I just kept thinking i wanted more lights and more loud music.

      I wish disney would release video to go along with the 27 minute version of the soundtrack so I can just look at the lights and dance.

      I would actually pay money to see that in the theater.

  • John

    If they can make the films as good as the previews, we’ll be in for a real treat. I love this 10 minute short! I think that they take their script to Pixar’s “War Room” and have it raked over the coals until they get a great script. There was LOTS of wasted potential in the last film. I believe that they should have made K. Flynn more interesting and delved more into the inherent emotions of a father and son being separated for 20 years. Perhaps they should not have given such a large film to a first time director who majored in architecture. (Not that it couldn’t be great, but perhaps literature or classics major would have better.) The film did look great, though, and I LOVE the “elecTRONica” rave on the weekends at DCA. Can’t wait for “Tron 3!”

    • FurryWalls1023

      I love the elecTronica reference

      • Isabel

        Me to.

  • Frank

    This was a better film than Inception. There… I said it.

    • therealeverton

      You said it; it remains patetly untrue, but you said it.

      Oh and I don’t doubt that you enjoyed Tron Legacy more, but I’m struggling as a punter, a film studies student and an extremely minor critic to think of a single way in which Tron Legacy is better than the trailer for inception, let alone the film itself.

      Again, I enjoy Die Hard more than I The Godfather (Pt II is so much better) but I’m never going to try to construct an argument that it is the better film.

      • Frank

        Actually, it is true. Now, Tron: Legacy is hardly a perfect film. It is a tad thick with exposition and fails at accurately depicting a Microsoft-style company. However, those flaws are even more readily apparent in the too-clever for its’ own good Inception. Ellen Page’s character should have been called The Exposition instead of The Architect. In fact, every single character in Inception is a cipher. You say that all the programs have no personality, but both Sheen’s and Wilde’s roles have far more going for them any of the so-called flesh-and-blood people in Nolan’s film. A film that both manages to overcomplicate and oversimplify the way the brain works. Inception has poorly directed action sequences. The snow fortress scene is a mess. Badly edited and set-up. I had no idea what was going on in that scene and why I cared. The lightcycle chase is far superior. Plus, Tron actually had a quality villain. Clu was a villain, but only because he was doing what he was programmed to do.. by his own father… who would later abandon him. Powerful stuff. Who the heck am I rooting against in Inception? Cillian Murphy? What did he do? Nameless Bond foot soldiers? Yawn! In reality, Dom Cobb is the real villain. He killed his wife though, despite all the exposition, it is never explained why she was in limbo or why Cobb put her in dreams. He also has no qualms about endangering every other member of his team despite knowing full well that his mind is a mess. His wife is an overpowering memory, but apparently he can’t remember what his kids look like. Okay. Why do I care that Ken Watanabe is dying or going to limbo? He wanted to go. He is also a greedy businessman who just let Lucas Haas’ character get taken to who knows where. He’s also incompetent… like the rest of the team. He picks Cobb’s team to perform the hardest task in dreams, inception, AFTER they fail to succeed with a more basic task with him. Oh, and let’s have him tag along as well as a complete neophyte in Ellen Page. Stupid. In the end, the only thing Inception had going for it were a great score and amazing visuals… the exact same thing people said about TL.

      • Tarc

        I think you need to bone up on that film study. If you can explain what the origami in Blade Runner means, it will lead you what Sheen’s character was. TL was *much* deeper than you give it credit for. Inception was a great idea, but as soeone else already mentioned, it was a mess in multiple ways, and it has a poor/confusing/bad conclusion that left most people hopelessly lost.

    • Tarc

      I’ll agree – it was better than Inception. Inception worked very hard to convince you it was clever (which it was, mostly), but then ran afoul of being too subtle and too obtuse (the resolution was messy and unclear, therefore unsatisfying). Tron’s first time director did a great job in some ways, but also went way too subtle with the details (above someone said the middle of the movie was ‘empty’ – it wasn’t empty, but rather seriously underplayed).

    • Isabel

      You realy think this film is better than Inception? I LOVE both movies and I don’t even think that.

  • Eva

    Well, I REALLY enjoyed the movie, mostly because Im a fan of the first and Young Jeff Bridges is H.O.T! I do agree its good that the old version of him wont be in 3.0, andI would looove to se some more action between wild and Hedman, and I dont mean fighting if you know what i mean ;P

    • Eva

      Oh, and the time is 01:35 and I should have gone for sleep hours ago so I nrealise my spelling and grammar are Bad!

    • Isabel

      Don’t Sam is think cute, to?

      • Isabel

        Sorry, typing errors. I said don’t you think Sam is hot to?

  • Mac

    Hellboy had an “incredible sequel”?! There goes your credibility, Darren…

    • Gabe

      I was just about to say this, the first Hellboy was significantly better than the second.

    • Isabel

      What does Hellboy have to do with TRON.

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