‘Tron: Legacy’ fans intrigued by elaborate staged event in San Francisco

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

In 1982, ‘Tron’ became a landmark moment in pop culture for its prescient imagery and concepts. In December, the light cycles will roll again in the Disney revival project ‘Tron: Legacy.’ The film already has stirred the imagination and passion of ‘Tron’ devotees, among them Jay West, a ‘super fan’ who has been writing guest columns for Hero Complex about the buildup to the movie. Here’s his newest dispatch about some elaborate events staged in San Francisco to pull fans further into the alternate reality game that West has been playing and covering.

Alan Bradley: ‘You invented Space Paranoids?’

Kevin Flynn: ‘Paranoids, Matrix Blaster, Vice Squad, a whole slew of them. I was this close to starting my own little enterprise, man.’


-- Bruce Boxleitner as Alan Bradley and Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, in the original ‘Tron

The latest in a series of ‘Tron: Legacy’ ARG (Alternate Reality Game) viral events was held recently at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco: a faux press conference attended by several hundred people and put on by the fictional Encom computer and software company that was featured in the original 1982 ‘Tron’ film, as well as the upcoming sequel. This event was keyed to WonderCon in San Francisco.

While a torrential downpour threatened the outdoor event, the weather cleared about an hour before start time, as if on cue. Those following the ARG via met up around this time at the Hyatt Hotel next door to Justin Herman Plaza so as to be prepped by ‘protest organizers’ on how and when the supporters of Flynn would rally and ‘take over’ Encom’s soon-to-begin conference.

When the conference did begin -- in keeping with the story thread of the upcoming ‘Tron: Legacy’ movie -- participants in the ARG found themselves addressed by none other than ‘Tron’ himself -- or, more precisely, his ‘real-world counterpart,’ Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) in his current role as an Executive Creative Consultant to Encom. Bradley was on hand to announce plans of an actual online playable video game incarnation of the fictional ‘Space Paranoids’ -- a game ‘created’ by Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) circa the time of the first ‘Tron’ movie, and which, for the first time ever, was playable as an arcade game at the ARG ‘Flynn’s Arcade viral event at last year’s Comic-Con International.

Boxleitner addressed the crowd completely in his character of Bradley for the entirety of the event -- and was joined at one point by another fellow cast member from the original ‘Tron’ -- Cindy Morgan, who played Lora Baines, and whose character (along with Boxleitner’s Bradley) was instrumental in Flynn’s crusade in the first film. In ‘Tron,’ Baines was Bradley’s girlfriend (and Flynn’s ex-girlfriend), and at the event Bradley introduced Baines as his ‘lovely wife.’ Seeing Morgan join Boxleitner came as a pleasant surprise to the audience, especially since Morgan isn’t slated to appear in the upcoming ‘Tron: Legacy’ with Boxleitner and Bridges. There have been active online campaigns to have the actress and her character included, most notably the Facebook group called: ‘Yori Lives’ (Yori being the name of Baines’ program counterpart in the computer world).
There was an interesting line in Boxleitner’s speech about the long wait for ‘Space Paranoids’: ‘There are a lot of people who will ask, and did ask, why now? -- and why did it take so long for you guys to do this? Well first of all, we should be glad that it’s even happening.’ That strongly echoed a recent statement by Steven Lisberger, the key creator of the original ‘Tron,’ who spoke at the ‘Tron: Legacy’ IMAX 3-D trailer event in West Los Angeles, where he was asked by a fan in the audience about the long gap between ‘Tron’ films. He answered: ‘First of all, we should all be glad that this happened, because that was a miracle. It will be great.’

Boxleitner played the role of Bradley to the hilt -- now the seasoned exec who’s done his share of the corporate world’s ‘necessary evils’ yet still exuding pride and affection when reminiscing about his long-missing pal, Flynn. It’s clear that Bradly is a complicated figure as he bears the torch in continuing his and Flynn’s work at Encom.

‘Technical difficulties’ were then announced on-hand Encom spokeswoman -- and Bradley and Baines were ushered off of the stage -- but not before Bradley threw a knowing glance toward the skies. Soon after this, the ‘Flynn Lives’ protesters rushed the stage, chanting the name of their absent cause; their compatriots also ‘hacked’ into the conference’s LED displays to herald their arrival. One of the protesters took Boxleitner’s spot behind the microphone to proclaim the group’s manifesto -- that the search for Kevin Flynn would continue despite Encom’s efforts and ongoing campaign to negate the missing man’s contributions to the company.

Then a helicopter ripped by in the skies directly over the conference area -- one that recalled the red and glowing Encom chopper that Ed Dillinger (David Warner) utilized in the original ‘Tron’ movie. Then, braving the severe winds, a lone jumper came plummeting down toward the audience before opening his parachute; the sharp gusts played havoc with the jumper’s descent but he regained control and landed directly behind the stage. Who was this daredevil character? None other than Sam Flynn (played in the new ‘Tron: Legacy’ movie by Garrett Hedlund), the son of the long-missing Kevin.

Hero Complex readers can now have a front row seat to see how all of this went down -- just by watching the links below for an exclusive, two-part video. This is a complete and comprehensive version of the ‘Tron: Legacy'/Flynn Lives ARG (Alternate Reality Game) viral event at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco.

and part two...

The majority of the video consists of footage I shot -- and also includes some select footage courtesy of -- including the teaser trailer for the ‘Space Paranoids’ video game -- so as to broaden the narrative. I edited the footage to reflect the order of the events and added sound effects and music, including elements of the 1982 ‘Tron’ soundtrack (such as the Journey track ‘1990’s Theme') as well as Daft Punk’s ‘Tron'-inspired ‘Robot Rock.’

This entire event resonated as a prologue for ‘Tron: Legacy’ -- and more than that it served as an actual story element for the upcoming film as grand interactive theater. The bar definitely continues to rise on the quality and ambition of the ‘Flynn Lives’ ARG.

- Jay West


‘Tron: Legacy’ director: ‘We are on a new server now’ ‘Tron: Legacy,’ the future is now

‘Tron: Legacy’ secrets revealed

‘Avatar,’ ‘Tron,’ ‘Gamer’ and ‘Surrogates’ -- second life as cinema

Christopher Nolan on Superman film: ‘We have a fantastic story’

Bigger than Batman: Nolan says ‘Inception’ was a career challenge

Bryan Singer talks about ‘X-Men’ past and future

Losing Nemo: Disney deep-sixes ’20,000 Leagues’

Depp: ‘There’s a crack in my enthusiasm’ for ‘Pirates 4'

Peter Jackson: Movie fans are ‘fed up with the lack of original ideas’