As Tron 3 updates announce with more frequency, Jared Leto is the only cast member attached so far – but one legacy character must return.
TRON 3 is out of development hell and the franchise is powering up again, but there’s one character who must return if it’s going to be a success. It’s been over a decade since audiences returned to The Grid with TRON: Legacy, where a young Sam Flynn searched for his missing programmer father in the digital world he created in the original TRON. The sequel didn’t perform the way Disney hoped, causing numerous creative delays over the years, but now the long-awaited threequel is going into production, with Jared Leto attached as a character called Ares, and Joachim Rønning directing.
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For all its faults, legacy at least took technological and narrative risks, bolstered by a foundation of nostalgia. Not only did it introduce new characters like ENCOM heir Sam and ISO Quorra, it made sure to include Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) and Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) from TRON. With no sign of Garrett Hedlund or Olivia Wilde returning in TRON 3 to play Sam or Quorra, Disney will need legacy characters to help give legitimacy to the TRON trilogy capstone. One character, in particular, holds the key to making sure TRON 3 is taken seriously, and a new character like Ares is accepted.
TRON 3 Needs To Bring Back Tron
One of the most essential characters in the entire TRON trilogy is Tron himself; a figure who TRON 3 needs to bring back. In the original TRON, Tron was a brave security program that monitored systems in ENCOM and kept the MCP in line, and his programmer and user Alan Bradley appeared in Legacy to much fanfare as ENCOM CEO and Sam’s protector. When Sam entered The Grid himself, he found the Tron program much altered, and Tron’s complicated storyline involving the evil program CLU was one of the best parts of any character’s development.
Not only could bring back Tron balance out TRON 3’s divisive casting of Leto, but operate as a connective tissue to the previous movies. Ares may not be connected to the Flynns, Quorra, or CLU, but it would make sense for him to encounter Tron, whose status remained ambiguous enough at the end of Legacy to warrant a return. Boxleitner attended D23 Expo 2022 to celebrate TRON’s 40th anniversary and addressed fans directly about his potential involvement in TRON 3, stating “I wouldn’t be here [at D23] if I wasn’t down to come back.”
TRON 3 Will Be Stronger With Its Legacy Characters
TRON 3 needs legacy characters to anchor its story. With TRON: Legacy, Disney knew that in order to both appeal to nostalgic fans of the original and attract new ones to the franchise, it needed to blend original characters with a new generation of heroes who fought for the Users. Unfortunately, it sounds like TRON 3 is already wasting Legacy’s villain setup, with no mention of Edward Dillinger Jr. (son of David Warner’s scenery-chewing EPCOM CEO in the original TRON), who was played to such conniving perfection by Cillian Murphy in Legacy and implied to return as a major antagonist back in 2010.
Tron has always been a symbol of hope, and its presence in TRON 3 would go a long way to assuring fans’ doubts about its story. At its core, the TRON franchise is about the adversarial relationship between commerce and creativity, when big corporations steal original work from the powerless little person, so not including Tron would be an unfortunate oversight given this era of reboots, revivals, and remakes when its message is more applicable than ever. Tron is the heart of the film series – let him fight for the users one last time.
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