Cast your mind back to 2010, it was the fledgling days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the return of Star Wars on the big screen was still several years away – hard to picture, right?
Well, Disney tried to push other properties they owned, including a little sequel to the classic 1982 film Tron which would hopefully spawn a new franchise.
Unfortunately, Tron: Legacy didn’t meet their expectations, and even though it was a solid adventure, the planned sequel (called Tron: Ascension) failed to get off the ground. But nearly a decade later, now is the right time for the franchise to return.
Tron: Ascension was originally meant to follow up on the idea of Isomorphic Algorithms (ISOs – individuals spontaneously created inside the Grid) like Olivia Wilde’s Quorra being able to transfer themselves into the real world.
But while Disney weren’t keen on the idea in 2015, the themes of existentialism, A.I. and fatherhood are all even more relevant in 2019.
Director Joseph Kosinski previously told Collider the sequel is in ‘cryogenic freeze’ and that it was an ‘invasion movie’.
There’s also been rumblings online of some Tron: Legacy related news on the horizon after the huge popularity of the Tron ride in the Disney Shanghai resort. So if a sequel is still in the works somewhere, what could it explore?
As we said, the ISOs would follow Quorra into the real world, vastly changing humanity’s beliefs about life, the universe and everything.
If artificial life could spontaneously be created and brought into the real world, what doors does that open for us? Scientific and medical boundaries would be flipped on their head, could the Grid be used to help patients on organ donor waiting lists?
It’d be morally interesting to see what ISOs think of the virtual assistants that are so deeply embedded in our phones and tablets. Would there be a Siri revolution? ‘Hey Google, start a riot’.
But there’s another societal undertone that would be an excellent parallel to some very real world parallels.
Let’s say the reason that the ISOs are fleeing to our world is that Edward Dillinger (with Cillian Murphy reprising the role) floods the Grid with a vicious new code that completely erases them. They’re persecuted simply for existing, and are brutally murdered on the whim of a powerfully sadistic individual.
How many times have we heard that story before? And not just across history, but even in the most recent headlines. Ascension would obviously have to be plotted carefully to avoid trivialising a very real problem.
But as Sam Flynn tries to uncover the mystery behind the massacre in the Grid, Quorra would be left out in the real world to see Dillinger’s real plan unfold.
By herding the ISOs into camps, he’d be able to use them for a wide range of pharmaceutical needs, organ harvesting, medical experiments, or even just as a ready-made private army.
Science-fiction always works best when framing a very real human story within a fantastical tale. With the state of the world, Tron: Ascension could quite easily deliver an exhilarating science-fiction adventure while commenting on real world issues.
Although it’d be ironic that Disney would deliver a commentary on the danger of a huge, all-powerful corporation controlling too much property and people, it could be seen as darkly self-referential. Although we’re not sure how well that would go down with Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger…
Fear not, Legacy fans, it wouldn’t all be social commentary! With Flynn investigating the code in the Grid, fans still get the thrills of the light cycle chases and disc wars, while the real world plot offers depth and heart.
Since Tron himself was rebooted during Legacy, it’s only logical that Flynn and Tron would team up to root out the vicious code – before discovering Dillinger himself in the Grid controlling it all from the ground.
Fighting Dillinger so Flynn can escape the Grid to help Quorra would see Tron’s character arc come full circle as he redeems his actions after being brainwashed by CLU.
Another character we’d love to see return to the series is the David Bowie influenced Castor, perfectly played by the charismatic Michael Sheen.
While he might’ve been damaged in the explosion at the End Of Line club, he’ll have progressed into making a lucrative business out of ferrying ISOs across the border from the Grid into the real world.
His ultimate plan? Transferring himself into our world to reopen the End Of Line club as a haven for ISOs – while charging them a pretty penny for the pleasure of it, of course.
And just for the sake of it, how great would it be if the burn on his face happened to be the shape of the Ziggy Stardust bolt? Ground control to Major Castor…
Just to circle back to our main hero, while Legacy sees Flynn reconnect with his dad, in Ascension he’d have to learn to become a father to both the ISOs and to his child with Quorra (since the film is clearly about moving forward and embracing change).
What would the child of a human and an ISO look like? While the ISOs don’t have any special abilities when they step into the real world, it’d be interesting to see if a hybrid would have any extra abilities – even if it’s just increased endurance or a longer life span. But what’s the resolution here?
Since the Grid would be widely talked about thanks to the existence of ISOs, the programs would have a severe choice to make – allow themselves to be controlled, or be the ones in control.
It could look something like the end of Marvel’s Black Panther, where Sam becomes the de-facto political leader – treating the Grid like its own country. Flynns Arcade would be transformed into a political embassy and gateway to the Grid, where the ISOs can safely travel back and forth, while also allowing the real world to positively benefit from the incredible technology that it births.
What a character arc that gives Sam Flynn – he’d go from a bitter rebel to a resistance fighter, before becoming a political leader with a family to replace the absence of his father growing up.
Oh, and if Daft Punk aren’t available to return for the soundtrack – give Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross a call. Their current work on the Watchmen series is impeccable.
Tron: Ascension, everybody.