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Cult Classic Films: "Tron Legacy": Creation and Science

Updated on October 31, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has been a professional writer and critic of films, books, music and theater for over 25 years.


Tron, Tron:Legacy, and Tron:Destiny

My HubPages friend RedElf fashioned a much-acclaimed Hub about the original Walt Disney's Tron. I remember a year in the late 1980s in which one of our local television stations broadcast this film every Saturday afternoon for months. Somehow, I always tuned in when film players inside the computer were at disk-warfare and the colors hypnotized me - to sleep! So, I never saw the entire film.

RedElf's article was just the thing to re-read before I went to view Tron: Legacy. When this invigorating sequel (I think it reduced my reaction times long-term!) is released on DVD, I intend to purchase both films.

Tron: Destiny, the third film in the trilogy, began filming in 2015, but was shelved in May. Some critics feel that the film was stopped immediately after Disney's Tomorrowland revealed itself as less than the blockbuster intended. It seems that Disney Studios will focus on the Princesses and their movies, developing additional sequels.

In Tron:Legacy, some AI became human beings.
In Tron:Legacy, some AI became human beings. | Source

A number of similarities can be found as humanity explores every small corner of the atom, of cyberspace, and of the universe beyond Earth. Can we actually define reality, humanity, and sentience? Perhaps not.

Cyberspace = Earth = Outer Space

It is difficult to decide whether Inception or Tron Legacy is my favorite science fiction film of 2010. Both deal with the mind and its levels of consciousness, along with different concepts of reality. Tron also addresses cyberspace as a proxy for life on Earth and for life in outer space - or 4th dimensional events.

Tron Legacy addresses the nature and creation of life and considers: by what or by whom can life be created? Science fiction and fantasy literature and film have considered these questions since the 1800s and may never be satisfied with resulting answers. Tron Legacy raises more questions about these concepts at the end of its film than does Inception .

Having believed since the advent of the Internet for popular use that similar patterns are present in all three of cyberspace, Earthly life, and space, like fractal equations, Tron Legacy raised the hair on the back of my neck.

Daft Punk - Electronica in Tron Legacy

This is my kind of music. French musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are DAFT PUNK and they cameo as electronic-music DJs in Tron Legacy.
This is my kind of music. French musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are DAFT PUNK and they cameo as electronic-music DJs in Tron Legacy. | Source

Father and Son

In Superman Returns , the legendary Man of Steel had a son with Lois Lane. A voiceover spoke of the father becoming the son and the son becoming the father; recalling the God/Son of God relationship in scripture. It was pleasant to hear this, for many Christian and Jewish viewers and critics.

In Tron Legacy , a father forsakes his son, because he cannot get back to the boy from cyberspace; not because he wants the boy crucified. However, the son enters cyberspace with an aim to save his father, but his father aims to save his son. In an otherworldly place where the father's creation, Clu, is a devil of hubris, this is mind-twisting. Clu rants on about his perfection "just as Flynn wanted" and his equality or superiority to his creator, a little like Satan and God in the Old Testament. Without giving away too much plot - I had not previously considered a scenario in which God absorbed Satan in order to right a wrong.

A race of people manifests out of the conditions of cyberspace in Legacy after Clu and his creator have done the architecture of a perfect world. "Perfect" is not healthy, either in the world of Legacy or in real life. It is an addiction.

Tron Popularity: Astronauts Appear as Tron Characters

ISS Expedition 29 Astronauts posed as Tron: Legacy explorers for their official poster during Autumn 2011.
ISS Expedition 29 Astronauts posed as Tron: Legacy explorers for their official poster during Autumn 2011. | Source

Appearing in the poster above: JAX astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, flight engineer, Sergei Volkov. Anton Shkaplerov, Commanders Mike Fossum and Dan Burbank, Anatoly Ivanishin and Anton Shkaplerov.

What Is "Human"?

The race of ISO people possess DNA that is a double-helix, but larger in width than is human DNA. The 3D illustration of this DNA is incredible. Comparing it to the triple helix of humanoids in TV's Threshold , the former is breathtaking, but believable. In fact, if anyone creates life out of nothingness, it will be computer programmers that do so (to whit , Star Trek III: The Search for Spock -- the Genesis Effect).

The Threshold humanoids, with a triple helix, should have had six arms/legs and three eyes -- Or been a three-sided worm with three heads or a spiral or some such. The question, in any event, for Tron Legacy is: Did people manifest by chance based on environment, or through a creator?

By the end of the film, one wonders -- If God absorbed the devil, would the Universe cease to exist? The film consistently features Kevin Flynn, the creator of Clu, Tron; and through Clu, a cyberworld matrixed to an end of obsessive perfection. This world is full of mayhem, evil characters, mad men, and revenge. Kevin Flynn alternates between zen balance and reactionary aggression. I think this is a message about life, religion, and human origins or at least presents the opportunity to ask questions. Some viewers find the film unsettling and unresolved. Perhaps that's the point.


Scriptural Parallels

How much input toward the storyline and dialogue of Tron Legacy did Jeff Bridges, preprising character Kevin Flynn, contribute? Some critics are referring to him as CyberDude (ala Big Liebowski) and I can see why.

There is much demonstration of meditation, bead imagery, and zen practice in Tron Legacy. And I like Kevin's advice that the only way to win a game is not to play it. I also like that he set aside his own advice to achieve a greater goal. I get it.

In interviews, Bridges reported to follow Buddhist doctrine as much as he can, but at least meditating 30 minutes before working. He reported thinking he is probably an agnostic and so, Tron Legacy was a good exploration of possibilities for him. He ended with a Father that sacrificed Himself and the Universe for His Son - except that it was a parallel universe in cyberspace. The Son is left alive, in charge of an IT company, while a computer program becomes a living human being. This all twists the minds of some veiwers; oithers do not see the parallel; but God in this film is the One who sacrifices all for everyone after He sees His mistake.

Bringing Back the Dead

In further considering computer effects, I wonder how long it will be, before computer generated images can result in an entire film starring dead actors? This has been suggested in previous science fiction films - I recall one in which Marilyn Monroe was still making movies about a century after her demise. in Superman Returns (2006), Marlon Brando's face and voice were brought back in a digital format.

The film work to return Jeff Bridges' facial appearance to 28 years previous is uncanny. Film Critic Roger Ebert, though he has no physically functional voice structures, vocalizes via computer from a database record containing hs own voice speaking hundreds of words and sentences. The two technologies could be combined to produce a new Elvis movie. We could bring back John Lennon. What if politicians or dictators were brought back - John F. Kennedy...Joseph Stalin? What if someone created a series of "live" broadcasts from Jesus Christ?

Now think of Kevin Flynn and son living inside a computer generated world; and of Quorra with her human-like DNA becoming a living being on real-life Earth --

How long will it be before a computer programmer creates life?

Or will this be another Tower of Babel that will come down before that possibility is met?

The hair is still standing up on my neck in anticipation of coming events.

Can Androids Become Human, as in Tron: Destiny?


© 2010 Patty Inglish MS


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