Tron: Ares Could Change the Entire Premise of Tron

The third Tron movie is flipping the entire franchise on its head.


When The Matrix hit in 1999, Tron fans immediately recognized the premise. Entering an entirely digital world wasn’t invented entirely by Tron in 1982 — even Doctor Who had its own virtual “matrix” in 1976 — but Tron changed the game for sci-fi feature films. Nobody had ever made a sci-fi movie like Tron before, which is also true of its ambitious sequel. And in 2025, the third Tron film — Tron: Ares — will invert the basic premise of the first film, while borrowing the biggest twist from the second. Will it work?

On Feb. 29, Disney dropped the first photo from the Jared Leto-led Tron: Ares, along with the first official description. Here’s why Tron 3 is simultaneously an ambitious departure and continuation for the franchise.

What is Tron: Ares about?

The first image from Tron: Ares. Is that Tron? Or Ares?


According to Disney, “TRON: Ares follows a highly sophisticated Program, Ares, who is sent from the digital world into the real world on a dangerous mission, marking humankind’s first encounter with A.I. beings.”

Presumably, the idea that this is the first “A.I. being” that humans encounter outside of the grid. In both Tron and Tron: Legacy, malevolent AIs in the form of Sark, The Master Control Program, and Clu cause all sorts of headaches for humankind. And, the titular character “Tron” is, in fact, an A.I. being, who happens to look like his creator, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner). In Tron: Legacy, we learned that new A.I.s were being born on their own, called ISOs. At the end of that movie, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) took Quorra (Olivia Wilde) out of the grid, so, that’s another example of an “A.I. being” coming into our world.

Is Tron 3 changing the premise of Tron?

It’s unclear how much to read into this new plot description, but even if the new film honors the canon of the previous two movies, it still seems like the basic idea of Tron is being flipped. Both of the previous movies were about humans going into a digital world, and encountering beings/life there. The sentient “Programs” of Tron, and their world, is part of the basic setting and concept of all versions of the franchise.

But with Tron: Ares, the fish-out-of-water situation sounds inverted. Instead of humans entering the digital realm, one Program (Ares, played by Jared Leto) is coming into our world. Will this work? What are the logistics involved in creating Ares, and does he even have a physical body?

Right out of the gate, Tron: Ares already has a lot of explaining to do. This doesn’t mean the movie won’t be great — it could potentially be the best Tron movie yet. But, right now, it seems like this film is trying to do something brand new with an old concept. How that will play out, and how it will change our feelings about the classic 1982 film, remains to be seen. And, above all, we still don’t know if a character named “Tron” will even be allowed to appear in his own movie. End of line.

Tron: Ares is set to release sometime in 2025.

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