As Tron turns 40, here’s how to catch up on the Tron universe
(Pocket-lint) – Tron is celebrating its 40th anniversary after its first release on July 9, 1982 in the United States. Tron achieved a cult following, being one of the first films to make heavy use of CGI – computer generated imagery – and exploring the world of computers that was still new to many people.
This imagery has become a cultural icon presenting a world that hadn’t really been imagined before. Instead of the alien worlds so common in contemporary science fiction, it was a world of entirely man-made construction.
It’s a more relevant world than ever as we toss around phrases like “metaverse”, but has also opened the door for others to follow from The Lawnmower Man (1992) to The Matrix (1999) to Ready Player One ( 2018).
It was really Tron who kickstarted this now mundane film genre, even if seen in the sci-fi literature leading up to its release, for example through the seminal Do Androids empathy box Dream of Electric Sheep (1968) by Philip K. Dick. the inspiration for Blade Runner – also released in 1982.
Beyond the manifestation of a virtual world, Tron plays on a paranoia repeatedly explored in science fiction – the fear of machines taking over.
Tron is not alone in his universe: to celebrate and explore this synthetic world, here are the Tron films and the order to watch them. You can find the essentials of Tron on Disney+.
Tron, created by Steven Lisberger, introduces us to Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a former ENCOM employee who tries to hack into his mainframe and discovers that ENCOM’s master control program is trying to take over. Flynn attempts to deploy Tron – a program designed to protect the system by his friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) – and is scanned by an experimental laser, ending up in the virtual world of the mainframe.
Tron’s Legacy (2010)
Acting as a sequel to the 1982 film, Legacy sees Flynn’s son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), discover a hidden basement in Flynn’s old arcade, with a laser, which scans Sam and sends him to the Grid, a virtual world created by Flynn. Sam participates in various games and eventually discovers his missing father trapped in the Grid and confronts Clu. This movie was recorded by Daft Punk.
Tron the next day (2011)
The Aftermath is a short film that picks up right after the end of Legacy, but takes the form of an assembled newsreel exploring the Flynn Lives movement and some of the history between the first two films. It stars Alan Bradley and Roy Kleinberg (Dan Stor).
Tron’s Uprising (2012–2013)
The Tron Uprising animation centers around Beck who leads the revolution in the Grid and Clu, the villain of Tron Legacy. Although it comes after Legacy, events occur in the grid in the intervening period between the two films. It is a television series, with 19 episodes.
Written by Chris Hall.