The Tron franchise is a mess. Disney has blown it by not creating an easy-to-follow timeline. Unlike Star Wars where the evolving storyline is kept under strict control by George Lucas, Disney has no ultimate authority to decide what does and does not belong in its Tron universe. I like how I can open a Star Wars novel and know the dates for the Old Republic, Rise of the Empire, Rebellion, New Republic, New Jedi Order, and Legacy. Novels, movies, and games fall into a rigorous chronology. Why has Disney failed to produce this basic tool despite all the content they’ve created?
When Jen Miller wrote about her EMP experience in Seattle, it reminded me of my visit to the Museum of Science Fiction in the summer of 2011. I came across Tron 2.0 action figures on a shelf right next to ones from Tron: Legacy. I didn’t recognize any of the 2.0 characters. I just assumed they were from a yet to be released video game. I was partly right. According to Wikipedia:
“Tron 2.0 is a first-person shooter computer game developed by Monolith Productions. According to Tron creator Steven Lisberger, Tron 2.0 was the official sequel to the 1982 film Tron, but was later declared non-canon by Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski. The PC version of the game was released by Buena Vista Games on August 26, 2003. The Mac version was released by MacPlay on April 21, 2004.”
I’d never heard of this game, and I’m assuming it was the equivalent of a box office dud. I find it shocking that in 2011 you could still buy the four 2.0 action figures: Jet Bradley, Mercury, Ic Regular, and Thorne.
Even the new animated series Tron: Uprising has me worried. An article on Tron wiki states the following:
“It is currently unknown if the series will be canon with the movies, but it is leaning towards non-canon, as it is introducing characters that cannot be logically placed into the flow of events set up by the movies. Furthermore, if Clu's villainous intentions are known by this time, then Tron would have to be Rinzler and could not be training a program and Flynn would be in hiding with Quorra. The first trailer of Tron: Uprising shows Rinzler subduing Beck, asking him, 'Do you really think that if they believe Tron's alive it will inspire a revolution?' This means that Tron has already become Rinzler by the time Beck starts his revolution. In addition, the bio for Tron mentions that the latter lives in seclusion after being damaged in a battle against Clu, looking for a program to become his successor. When or how Tron eventually becomes Rinzler in the chronological timeline of the Tron universe is a mystery as it interferes with the story lines set by Tron: Legacy and Tron: Evolution, adding further question about the canonicity of the series. The premiere of the series, "Beck's Beginning" has in Tron's narration of his defeat as having been left for dead rather then being immediately placed under Clu's control with Rinzler initially serving as a disguise.”
On May 18th, 2012, I watched the premiere of the animated Tron: Uprising on the Disney Channel. Everything this Tron wiki article states is confirmed. My only hope is that the animated storyline will write its way out of the Rinzler mystery, but I don’t see how.
It appears that Disney is not interested in a harmonious chronology. Why else would they make the critical mistake of not releasing the Blu Ray of Tron: The Original Classic before the release of Tron: Legacy? A whole new generation is about to be introduced to Tron and yet the original is not re-released before the sequel? What gives? Moreover, I searched for the Legacy novel; there isn’t one. How can Disney put out the graphic novel Tron: Betrayal that deals with events between the original and the sequel, then skip the novelization of Legacy? To be fair, Disney published children’s books such as Tron Legacy: The Main Storybook, Tron: Legacy (The Junior Novel), and Tron Legacy: The Complete Story (film images and comics for iPad only; alas, I do not have an iPad). It just seems so disorganized, and a mistake to overlook the adult audience.
There is only one constant in the world of Tron - confusion. Disney needs to make a commitment to syncing every novel, graphic novel, and game into one whole. There needs to be a true novelization of Legacy. Moreover, novels and/or graphic novels based on the video games such as Tron: Evolution would be nice. If Microsoft can do that with Halo, why can’t Disney? A decision must be made to organize, clarify, and canonize, or Tron’s potential as a franchise will be lost