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Greetings programs! Tron: Legacy opens in theaters this weekend and while just about every self-respecting geek over the age of 30 has seen and loved the original for years, the truth is that a lot of the people showing up to see Legacy tonight haven't. That's alright. You don't really need to see TRON to enjoy the sequel. The film is structured in a way that it mostly works whether or not you've seen the now classic 1982 film.
Yet even though you'll be fine going into Tron: Legacy blind, at least some of the film plays a lot better if you know some of the details behind what's going on. You don't have to see TRON, but before you go here's a few things you Tron-universe newcomers may want to know. Impress your friends and bone up with our completely spoiler free know before you go guide. All right, give me room. Here we go.
“Users” is short for “computer users”. It's what computer programs, inside the computer world, call you and me. Many programs view users as if they're gods. Others refuse to believe users exist at all.
Encom is a massive, powerful, tech company. Think of them like Microsoft or Apple. In the first movie Kevin Flynn is a former Encom employee, who quit after the company turned evil. By the end of the first film Kevin Flynn is running Encom and turns the company away from its evil pursuits.
The original TRON contains several different villains, but in the real world the chief bad guy is clearly Ed Dillinger. Dillinger ran Encom before Kevin Flynn and used the company for his own personal gain, stealing ideas from his employees and creating the Master Control Program, an all powerful computer program which Kevin Flynn eventually defeats and destroys in the computer world with help from Tron and Yori, two other computer programs. By the end of the first film Ed Dillinger is disgraced and imprisoned for his crimes.
You'll spend some time with Alan Bradley in Tron: Legacy but the movie never really explains how important he is, other than to say he's an old friend of the Flynn family. But in the original movie Alan may actually have been even more important than Flynn. It was he who wrote Tron, the computer program which ultimately lead the attack on the Master Control Program in the first film. That's also why Tron looks so much like Alan. Programs in the computer world always look like the human users who designed them.
In the original TRON this was the business Kevin Flynn owned after leaving Encom. It's there that Flynn and Alan Bradley, in Flynn's office above the arcade, first hatched their plan to take down Encom and break into their computer systems.
Though his name is in the title, Tron himself never really gets much of an explanation in Tron: Legacy. But the thing you really need to know about Tron is that he's utterly loyal both to Flynn and to the users, the humans who use and design the computer system he lives in. In one of his most iconic moments in the first film Tron loudly proclaimed “I fight for the users!” and that pretty much sums up his personality. He's the most deadly and skilled warrior in the computer world. Nobody, except maybe the users, is better at games than Tron. Whether it's lightcycles or disc battles, he's absolutely the best of the best.
Back in 1982 in the original TRON Kevin Flynn is kidnapped by the Master Control Program (who isn't in Tron: Legacy) and taken into the computer world using a laser beam designed by Encom to digitize objects in the real world and turn them into computer data. The laser was an unfinished, test prototype never actually intended to transport people into the computer, rather it was intended more as a teleportation device, like the transporters in Star Trek.
If you hear people in the audience around you whispering and pointing during the club scene in Tron: Legacy, they're probably talking about Daft Punk. Daft Punk is a French, electronic music duo. They rarely reveal their faces and instead when they perform always wear elaborate robot costumes complete with robotic helmets. They also composed Tron: Legacy's score and they have a cameo in the film. Watch for them and point them out to your friends. You'll seem smarter and hipper than you actually are.
Glossary Of VehiclesImpress your friends by knowing the names of all these awesome Tron: Legacy vehicles in advance.
Want to know more about the original TRON? Check out our in-depth discussion of the movie that started it all right here.