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The Disney+ Tron Series You Never Got To See

Ever since Bob Iger abdicated the Disney CEO throne in preparation for retirement, he has taken on the monumental task of helping the company's streaming platform Disney+ get through its first full year of new programming. That means a whole lot of reorganization and strategizing as the streamer attempts to find its market identity. It also means some projects go to Hulu, which Disney owns majority stake in, or a project is cancelled altogether. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the latter was the fate of a surprise Tron series that was apparently in pre-production, but never publicly announced as such. Disappointing as that may be for many a cult Tron fan to see a reboot slip from their fingers, it's probably a choice made simply because it was so early in development — it had a screenwriter attached, but no other production talent like a director or any actors, so far as we know.

Tron is one of the tougher franchise nuts Disney has had difficulties cracking since the original film was released in 1982. After finding only moderate success on its release during a particularly dark time in Disney's history, Tron was shelved as a franchise concept and largely ignored by the powers that be until the tepidly received sequel release Tron: Legacy in 2010. Despite all the naysaying, there are die-hard fans of Tron, its aesthetic, and its message — enough of it for Disney to occasionally mull revisiting it, but not enough for it to be the kind of guaranteed success it demands outs of its franchises these days. 

What might this Tron series have looked like? There were a couple different known vectors of opportunity.

The possible Ascension angle of the Disney+ Tron series

The only firm detail known about this cancelled Tron series is that the screenwriter attached was John Ridley, most known for adapting the memoir Twelve Years a Slave into a screenplay for multiple-Academy-Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. It's not even known for sure if this cancelled Tron series would have been animated or live-action, and Ridley has qualifying background to write for either type of project, since he's also written scripts for the animated superhero programs Static Shock and Justice League in the past. 

However, we do know that the previously-proposed trilogy live-action film, Tron: Ascension, is reportedly still on ice at Disney somewhere — and that this series could have been adapting a film script that was described by its erstwhile director, Joseph Kosinski, in March 2017 as "about 80 percent" completed. In March 2019, producer Justin Springer voiced interest to /Film in getting Tron 3 made, saying that he "will never stop" wanting that.

That movie was meant to be a direct continuation of the events of Tron: Legacy, with Flynn's (Jeff Bridges) son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) and the now-flesh-and-blood ISO construct Quorra (Olivia Wilde) living in meatspace, trying to prevent an invasion from the digital world they'd both escaped. Kosinski explained to Collider in March 2017 that flipping the script seemed the natural direction to take: "What I'm excited about is the concept, which is an invasion movie from inside the machine coming out as opposed to one we've usually seen." He went on to describe a subplot with Quorra's slow adjustment to living as a human and the strain that puts on her. 

A full-scale war scenario could indeed benefit from a series treatment over a single film, but there's no way to know how much, if any, of that story would have been incorporated. It's not impossible that they could have gotten Hedlund and Wilde back, but it's been a long time, and Jeff Bridges certainly isn't getting any younger, either.

The Disney+ Tron series could have taken the Uprising angle

The other possible approach for the preemptively cancelled Tron series could have been somehow building on the events of the Tron: Uprising animated series that was cut short in 2013 after a mere two seasons. This series was set between the events of Tron and Tron: Legacy, following a young program named Beck (voiced by Elijah Wood) who's brought under the wing of Tron (still voiced, charmingly enough, by Bruce Boxleitner) to help continue the struggle for program independence in a totally new digital location called Argon City. Tron was severely injured as a result of a narrow escape from Clu, the major antagonist of the original film, and sought to rally new blood to his cause. The curious part of this concatenated series is that the story's final unresolved cliffhanger went to the trouble of healing Tron of his chronic injuries and rescued him from being co-opted by the enemy and reprogrammed — many years before Tron is again caught and reprogrammed into Rinzler to become the secondary antagonist of Tron: Legacy.

There's a lot of story to fit into the gap between Uprising and Legacy – not the least of which is resolving how Tron is eventually lost to Clu, and how Beck might have fought back at the new avatar of Tron and failed fighting against Clu in the struggle for freedom. Beck doesn't play into the events of Tron: Legacy at all, and the two projects were made independently of one another, but that doesn't mean this mystery Tron series didn't potentially seek to find a way to marry them and create canonical continuity. 

With the way this cycle seems to work at Disney, however, it'll likely be another decade before the powers that be decide to try dusting off Tron for anybody's enjoyment.