While sitting through the previews ahead of a screening of the latest Harry Potter movie, an old friend turns to me and asks, “Hey isn’t that ‘The Dude’?” He was referring of course, to Jeff Bridges. Now, I have to admit, Bridges is looking a little like his character from The Big Lebowski in this trailer for impending nerd-culture event that is Tron: Legacy. And while I start concocting a mash-up of The Big Lebowski and Tron in which Flynn enters into the video-game world to confront Sark and the MCP over the theft of a certain rug that “really tied the room together”; another thought hits me. Is Tron actually in the new Tron?
It’s easy to forget that “Tron” isn’t the name of the video game world the film inhabits, but rather than name of a character; albeit a virtual one. In the original film, Tron is the neon-blue doppelganger of Bruce Boxleitner’s Alan Bradley. In the real world, Bradley created the Tron program as a sort of watchdog of the Master Control Program. This manifests itself in the video-game world with the other programs proclaiming that Tron “fights for the users.” With the help of video-game designer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) Tron eventually defeats Sark and the MCP and restores order to the Matrix…err…the video game world. When you look at the plot of Tron from the Tron angle, it doesn’t really seem like Jeff Bridges is the star of the movie. But he totally is! (Though I would like to point out that I’m pretty sure this is The Box on the cover of this here Tron VHS tape and NOT Bridges)
Kevin Flynn is the primary protagonist of the original Tron, simply because his video games constitute the reality of virtual world in which most of the action takes place. And though it has taken over two decades for Flynn’s “Space Paranoids” to find its way into the real world, as of May of this year you can play the arcade game online! The point is, Bridges as Flynn is the backbone of the original film, so it makes sense he should be the star of the new movie. But still, have they forsaken Tron? Will The Box suit up in all neon?
Now, The Box is in the new Tron Legacy movie, as Alan Bradley. We’ve seen him at the beginning of the trailers. I’m not saying Disney or anybody gave The Box the shaft by excluding him from the new Tron. But still, in all the promotional material for this movie, I don’t see The Box as Tron. In short, I don’t see Tron in the new Tron!
I’d like to point out that in no way does the exclusion of Tron the person from the new Tron movie ruin the whole Tron thing for me. In fact, it might be a smart move on the part of the filmmakers, and an easy way to make a more compact and effective narrative. But it is a little funny if that is indeed the case. At the point at which very few people actually remember that Tron was a person, few will likely be offended by him not showing up. Conversely, if the presence of The Box as Tron is being concealed from the public, the surprise element would likely be lost on the majority of audiences. Basically only myself and my high-school friend Justin Lemieux are the only people I know who answer the phone by saying “greetings program” and know it’s a Tron reference.
So what do you think, programs? Will Tron Legacy be technically Tron-less? Will it matter? Will The Dude reign supreme and make it an awesome movie anyway? And how come they couldn’t get David Warner back?
Ryan Britt’s writing has appeared here, Nerve.com, Opium Magazine, The New Inquiry, Clarkesworld Magazine, and elsewhere. He once met and dated a girl who was playing the Tron arcade game at Barcade in Brooklyn. Their relationship may have ended because the game stopped working at some point.