Emerald Specter 43: How I’d Handle Tron

While it’s been quiet on the “Tron” front (from Disney, the owners of the rights to Tron), I’d like to jump into what they really should be doing with the property… or more importantly, how I’d handle the property in the current situation.

Read on, kids, it’s another Emerald Specter column.

ScreenRant ran an article that I’ve read, which deals with the reported reboot that Disney is running with their hopes that Jared Leto will star. The article was released on April 1, so I wasn’t totally sure that it was legit but there isn’t an idiotic joke in the article, so I’m running with talking about my thoughts on their thoughts, then moving on from there.

The article mentions the past and how Disney made great visual effects leaps without getting too deep into the idea for Tron: Ascension being still a viable option. They discuss the particulars of what the climate was like “back then,” how far we’ve advanced (especially since the last Tron release), and what Disney really needed to do to recapture the original vibe.

I do agree that if Disney wants to make an impact, they’re going to have to tie technology and real life into such a blurred line that the story would be more about how we’ve fallen victim to technology and become too self reliant rather than simply having someone just “pop in and change stuff.”

First and foremost, though, if you’re going to reboot the franchise, you need to COMPLETELY REBOOT TRON. I’m talking about pretending that Tron and Tron: Legacy NEVER EXISTED. I’m talking about making the character of Tron turn into the name of the system, making an updated visual experience (keep the light on black motif, but make the design fresh), and get rid of the non-existent (and hokey) digitizing laser.

If you’re going to do this thing, you need to forget the “isolated” Grid concept, and update all your terms. Users? They’re now Developers. Programs? Let’s call them Apps instead. The Grid? Well, we could leave that one alone, as it sounds technical, but let’s revamp that too and just call this one the System… or the Network. In fact, if we’re going with my “make Tron the name of the  place” theme, then make it an acronym… I’m just spitballing here, but maybe Technological Revolution Origin Network (making Origin the name of Encom’s stand in)? It’s just a spitball.

In my world of TRON (capitalized because it’s now an acronym), Developer Johnny Hacker creates a virus that has an unintended consequence… which is that the code alters a burgeoning manufactured intelligence (artificial intelligence, to the uninitiated… manufactured intelligence means it can be alive but doesn’t demean the potential new life form) into actual sentience. This is my MCP stand in, we’ll call it WALT (Wireless Autonomous Logic Technology). WALT sees what the Developers around him are doing and decides that since technology is basically running people’s lives that WALT should be doing that instead. WALT then creates Apps that will be his generals in the army of his revolution.

We will get a mix of digital world, real world, and the virtual reality we have to interact with both sides of this fight. The Developers start developing countermeasures when social media networks start actually harming folks (maybe due to the new augmented reality features in them), creating a build up to the final battle between WALT and the primary warriors in the Network (capitalized because it’s a proper noun here) will engage in combat with the primary warriors of the Developers (maybe include a Kevin Flynn, Ed Dillinger, and Alan Bradley… if we need Developer names).

I definitely would NOT have a CLU, or a SARQ, or a TRON… the characters. I would seek to differentiate my TRON universe from what came before… and that is just scraping the surface.

So, my TRON reboot has come out and it’s successful… I’ll call it (for the purposes of this column TRON Genisystem or TRON Genesis). Don’t wait for the toys to be sold or the movie to gather as much cash as possible, launch the “Tron Uprising” style cartoon (I’ll call mine TRON Exodus) for at least a three season run while we work on the sequel movie. We can also have a comic book and maybe a novel trilogy put out touching on different aspects of the TRON Network. The cartoon will be about how whatever replaces WALT starts developing another army for a new initiative, the comic book can be about the merger of a WALT App and a Developer App that decides to be his own faction, fighting for freedom while holding down the manufactured intelligence army. The novels will address what happens with each of the Developer Apps that confronted WALT, where they end up, and why they are also gaining some of their own sentience.

All of this will be in the same universe.

The sequel to TRON and the sequel to the sequel (making a trilogy) would also be worked on, with a cartoon series (or live action), more comics, and more novels put out. Hell, we shouldn’t leave out the possibility for video games that take the perspective of an “up and coming” Developer trying to follow in Flynn, Dillinger, and Bradley’s footsteps but actually figuring out some other aspect of the Network would fit in… we’d have video games coming out, too.

And toys… we can’t forget the marketing and toy empire that can be built on this.

The most important part of this brief outline is that Disney controls the whole thing from start to finish, with a clear vision of where things are starting, seeding future properties and tie ins, and giving them the chance to build a theme park built up on their newly rebooted property rather than trying to take a “one off movie” from 1982 and building a franchise off of that (using outdated terms, misconceptions about how technology works) instead of simply coping with what came before from minds that are no longer in the company.

Let me know what you think.

Think on it.