There’s Already A Tron: Ares Easter Egg That Connects To Deeper Franchise Lore

Film News

For my money, one of the best sci-fi movie franchises in existence is Disney’s Tron. At once ahead of the curve, but also on the bleeding edge of today, the series explores the relationship between technology and humanity. Tron: Ares is about to do that once again, with Jared Leto’s titular Program representing a first contact scenario between the otuside world and The Grid. 

As if that wasn’t a strong enough connection between the upcoming Disney movie and the world it hails from, a pretty sizable Easter egg is already putting the hype machine into motion. What it is, and what it could mean for director Joachim Rønning’s big three-quel could be massive, especially for Tron: Legacy fans. So prepare for some speculation on the game that Tron 3 looks to be setting into motion.

Ares looking back in Tron: Ares.

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

Tron: Ares’ Surprisingly Sneaky Easter Egg

Our first look at Tron: Ares gave us a good look at Ares, albeit with his helmet still firmly secured. In case you didn’t get a good look at this new Program in all of his resplendently red nature, gaze at the full photo below: 

A figure in a red Grid suit in Tron: Ares.

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

That still looks pretty awesome, and I’m still pondering over almost a week later just what that triangular Identity Disc is supposed to do. Which is exactly where we’re going to be focusing our attention on today, as there’s something interesting that should be noted hidden on that object. As reported by Gizmodo, there’s been a detail hiding in plain sight on Ares’ ID disc this whole time.

Looking at the top of that disc, Tron: Ares gave us our first clue towards the future thanks to its central character being branded as property of Dillinger Systems. Deep-coded Tron fans are probably marveling at this revelation, and I wouldn’t blame them. For those of you who might not be as far in the cycles as they are, let’s talk about why that’s important and why this is a moment that’s been coming for a long time.

David Warner sits while tenting his hands in thought in Tron.

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

Why Is Dillinger Systems Important?

In the original Tron, a pretty huge rivalry was put in play. Thanks to his overthrow of former CEO Edward Dillinger Sr. (David Warner), Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) pushed the man who tried to steal his work outside of the ENCOM circle. This prompted the villain behind the Master Control Program to build his own sandbox with spreadsheets and megalomaniacal AI programs. 

No, seriously, Dillinger Systems’ big claim to fame, at least from what we know about them, was releasing a spreadsheet program back in the late ‘80s. Literally giving ENCOM a run for its money, the rival company became the other big game in town. Say what you will about the competition, but it had the optics game cornered as its CEO wasn’t missing/presumed insane. 

The more Dillinger’s company seemed to eat ENCOM’s lunch, the less faith the company’s board had in interim CEO Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner), leading to the point in the Tron franchise timeline where ENCOM encountered massive layoffs and restructuring, with Alan resigning as CEO. But how do we know all of this? 

Dillinger Systems making headlines on a Tron: Legacy special feature.

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

Where Dillinger Systems Has Previously Popped Up In Tron Canon

I’ll admit, the lore of Dillinger Systems isn’t something simply laid out in Tron: Legacy’s cinematic narrative. As far as the film itself goes, that particular legacy shows up in the presence of Edward Dillinger Jr. (Cillian Murphy), who is somehow working for ENCOM and not considered a conflict of interest. 

Digging deeper into the special features package of the sadly out of print Blu-ray, a whole bunch of historical gaps are filled in between the events of Tron and Tron: Legacy. This includes the first mention of Dillinger Systems and its history disrupting the burgeoning personal computing and software market of the late ‘80s. 

Apparently this was also a key set up for future battles to be fought in frontiers of the digital and boardroom variety. With a conversation between Edward Sr. and his son proving the family was still very much up to its old tricks, those unknown schemes still hang heavily in the air. 

Cillian Murphy and Garrett Hedlund pictured side by side in Tron: Legacy.

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

I still have questions after Tron: Legacy that still need answers, but this new Tron: Ares Easter egg seems to have started connecting the threads. With both legacy tech companies poised to keep slugging it out, Ares looks to be a new pawn in the long game between Dillinger Systems and ENCOM.

Since we apparently know which side he’s on, could Jared Leto’s character be the killer app that Dillinger Systems needs to win the day? Also, what’s up with the triangular shape of his Identity Disk? Is this a new programming quirk that’s supposed to signify some sort of new computing power and/or abilities developed by Dillinger’s labs? 

Hey wait… who’s running the show if Edward Jr. is working with ENCOM?! It’s enough to send one spiraling into creating a diagram of red string and pushpins, laying out the entire sordid chain. But for now, I think it’s time to leave the playing field, as there’s a lot of runway between now and whenever we’ll potentially see Tron: Ares arrive in theaters. 

I doubt I’ll be getting answers to any of these questions any time soon, but I’d actually settle for learning whatever Tron: Ares’ 2025 release date is supposed to be. The upcoming Disney movies schedule is going to become rather handy when trying to figure out when the best release window for the next Tron film happens to be. 

Plus, I’ll probably be throwing Tron: Legacy into my Blu-ray player yet again to comb over those special features extra carefully. Who knows what other clues for the road ahead are hiding in plain sight? Tron fans, we’re just getting started, and if we don’t pace ourselves, one could easily de-rezz before reaching the finish line that is Tron: Ares.

If you don’t have the Tron: Legacy Blu-ray, then you’ll have to search elsewhere to try and view “The Next Day,” and all of the other cool special features previously included. However, with a Disney+ subscription, you’ll be able to at least watch both Tron movies, as well as Tron: Uprising, yet another source of unanswered questions on The Grid. End of Line. 

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