‘Tron Legacy’ Panel Report, Fresh From San Diego Comic-Con

One of the most anticipated films of 2011 is “Tron Legacy,” the sequel to the 1982 sci-fi movie “Tron.” Disney didn’t disappoint fans during their 3-D panel at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday.

Filmmakers and members of the cast, including Jeff Bridges reprising his role as Kevin Flynn, introduced footage revealing that the story revolves around Kevin’s son Sam.

“I go on search for my father and find myself in this crazy world,” said actor Garrett Hedlund, who plays Sam Flynn.

What he finds is that the world of Tron has been sitting on a server and in that time has evolved on its own. “It’s become darker and more realistic, feeling more like a photo surreal environment,” director Joe Kosinski said.

The footage screened during the panel showed Sam entering the dilapidated Flynn’s Arcade, a building that ought to be familiar to fans of the first film. As he walks through the arcade, the games are covered in sheets of plastic and a layer of dust. He fires up the electricity in the building, making all of the ’80s-era games turn on.

Sam notices one game in the back of the arcade with a huge neon sign that says “Tron.” After unsuccessfully trying to put a quarter into the machine, he notices a groove in the floor. Pulling the arcade game from the wall, Sam Flynn finds an entrance in the wall, so he walks in.

The footage ended there, but as anyone who has heard about last year’s Comic-Con knows, Sam’s father is trapped inside the virtual world of Tron, and has become a much more menacing character.

Bridges, for whom the capacity crowd cheered loudly when he entered, said that coming back to the role wasn’t as hard as he imagined it would be after 27 years. “You think you’d kind of forget those things, but you fall right back into it. It wasn’t that difficult,” he said.

Bridges said the technology of the Tron world is on a whole new level now. “The first ’Tron,’ when we made that, there was no Internet,” he said. “So what you saw was so new and fresh. I can guarantee you’re going to get that same pop with this one. Everything is going to be superized.”

Actress Olivia Wilde said she plays a “loyal confidant” to Kevin Flynn. “I’m a big fan of the original film, and it was just really exciting to be a part of this. That’s an understatement,” she said.

Kosinski shared shots of Tron City and images of the Gladiatorial Games. The Disc Wars will return, but they’ll function like a physical manifestation of a tournament bracket with all of the battles happening at the same time. The high-tech floor of the Disc Wars game board will adjust each time a competitor is eliminated so the winner will have to play his next opponent until only two combatants remain.

What is probably the most recognizable element of “Tron,” the Light Cycles, will also return, although they will have gone through several generations. Images were shown of the fifth generation cycle, though Kosinski said there will be a part of the movie that travels back in time to the ’80s. There we’ll see the second generation of the light cycle, which is alleged to be the fastest thing on the grid.

Steven Lisberger, who was the director of the original “Tron,” came back for this movie. He is thrilled with the way the makers of the new film have taken his vision and updated it for modern audiences. “When we did the first film, nothing was real. No one had a PC,” Lisberger said. “We got to go to this frontier first and we just got to dream big.”

The 3-D footage shown at last year’s Comic-Con was then presented again, showing a much colder version of Bridges’ Kevin Flynn beating down an opponent on a light cycle.

During the question and answer session of the panel, Kosinski was asked why he decided to have Daft Punk do all the music for the movie. “How could you not at least go to those guys?” he replied, to cheers from the crowd. Although filmmakers didn’t have any new 3-D footage to share, Kosinski said there would be plenty more for next year’s Comic-Con.

“We’ve probably got three or four things in this movie that have never been done before, and we’re doing them all at the same time,” he said. “I promise you that next year at Comic-Con you’ll see some things you haven’t seen before.”

What does this do for you? Feeling any better now that “Tron Legacy” has a proper title and details are starting to fill in?