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Tron: Legacy’s Joseph Kosinski Shares Why The Sequel Never Happened, And Star Wars And Marvel Are Involved

Olivia Wilde fights off two enemies in the End of Line Club in Tron: Legacy.
(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

No matter how much fans of Tron: Legacy hoped to see the originally intended sequel pop up on the roster of upcoming movies, director Joseph Kosinski’s intended follow-up just never happened. It’s a subject that’s been discussed time and again, ever since the original Tron 3 concept was given the axe. Almost a decade since that announcement, Kosinski has returned to the discussion to explain why things fell apart, and how Star Wars and Marvel Studios were both involved.

In connection to the release of his latest box-office smash Top Gun: Maverick, Joseph Kosinski got to revisit a subject that’s bittersweetly fond to him. Speaking with Vulture, the director of Tron: Legacy confirmed pieces of the story we’d heard before, while also adding the following context:

I got so close. I really tried. I got close in 2015, and Disney pulled the plug on it. I hadn’t built anything, but I had the whole movie storyboarded and written. I was really excited because it was inverting the idea: It was all that stuff coming into our world, and it was about the blending of the two. But it was a different Disney by 2015. When I made Tron: Legacy, they didn’t own Marvel; they didn’t own Star Wars. We were the play for fantasy and science fiction. And once you’ve got those other things under your umbrella, it makes sense that you’re going to put your money into a known property and not the weird art student with black fingernails in the corner — that was Tron. And that’s okay. Had I made Tron: Ascension, I wouldn’t have made Only the Brave, and I wouldn’t have made the movies I made. But remember, the first Tron was not a hit when it came out. It’s a cult classic. And if Tron: Legacy’s becoming the same thing, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

While he doesn’t explicitly confirm what Tron 2 star Garrett Hedlund said about the cancellation, it once again sounds like Tomorrowland’s disastrous 2015 release is a contributing factor to Tron: Ascension’s demise. With Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Studios in 2009, which was followed by the purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012, Joseph Kosinski’s angle that the sci-fi world was covered also tracks. It also explains how determined he was to make the third Tron film happen, as he was able to keep hope alive for years after those landmark takeovers.

Though it makes total business sense, especially in light of how those multibillion dollar investments paid off and then some, it doesn’t soothe the hearts of those wanting to return to The Grid. After learning what Tron: Ascension was going to be about, and the implications it had for Sam Flynn and Quorra’s future adventures, this cancellation feels like even more of a sore spot for those that feel Disney puts a higher priority on certain franchises than others. 

Flash forward to today, and Joseph Kosinski has made movies like Oblivion, Only the Brave and Top Gun: Maverick, which all have their own followings. Meanwhile, Disney looks to have somehow found room for Tron to exist on its production slate yet again, even with Star Wars and the MCU continuing to make up a majority of what’s on the way. The art student may be returning to the forefront, but it sounds like Disney's given them a bit of a makeover for the occasion. 

As for Jared Leto’s Tron 3, which he assures us is getting “closer and closer,” no firm production or release dates are set. We’ll continue to keep track of what’s going on with this Tron movie, and hope that promising news is on its way in the near future. Should this discussion have put you in a nostalgic mood for the Tron franchise or any titles from the Star Wars and MCU franchises, Disney+ subscribers can currently binge those works to their heart’s content.

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.