Jared Leto’s TRON: Ares Character Is Connected To The Franchise’s Original Villain
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Jared Leto’s TRON: Ares Character Is Connected To The Franchise’s Original Villain


  • Jared Leto’s character in TRON: Ares may be connected to the franchise’s original villain, the Master Control Program.
  • The red lighting on Leto’s character signifies loyalty to the MCP or Clu, hinting at his villainous role in the film.
  • TRON: Ares could see the return of the MCP through a well-established setup from TRON: Legacy, bringing back a major antagonist.



A first look at Jared Leto’s character in TRON: Ares has just been revealed, and one theory explains that this new character may be connected to the TRON franchise’s original villain. Very little is known about Jared Leto’s character in the upcoming TRON sequel, with only a few details being revealed throughout the film’s development. Although more information will undoubtedly be revealed as the film’s release date draws nearer, some TRON fans feel as if they have already uncovered a huge mystery, as Jared Leto’s new character in TRON: Ares may have a massive connection to the franchise’s past.

1982’s TRON was a cult hit, with it following a computer programmer as he gets sucked into a video game and is forced to take part in a massive digital revolution. Despite TRON being a success and a visual effects powerhouse, it took decades for a sequel to get made, with another TRON movie not coming until 2010’s TRON: Legacy. Sadly, this film was a commercial and critical disappointment, causing TRON to go on hiatus once again. Despite TRON: Legacy, a sequel titled TRON: Ares is finally happening, bringing audiences back to the Grid once again.


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The Red Lighting In TRON: Ares Is A Direct Connection To The Master Control Program


As it turns out, Jared Leto’s TRON: Ares character is covered in red lighting, with this being a direct connection to the TRON franchise’s original villain: the Master Control Program. The first image of TRON: Ares showed off a look at Jared Leto’s Ares, the main character in the upcoming film. Although it isn’t known if Leto’s character will be a hero or a villain, this image does give a big clue, as the red light is a staple of TRON antagonists.

In the original 1982 TRON, the main colors of programs changed based on a variety of things, including their allegiance. While blue programs were friendly to users, red programs were not, with red programs wanting to purge them from the Grid. The red lighting was a sign that programs were loyal to the Master Control Program, with them being part of his army. The MCP was defeated, however, leading to the red lighting taking on a new meaning in TRON: Legacy. In the reboot, Clu reprogrammed programs that were loyal to the MCP, with them now serving Clu.

The Master Control Program was the villainous head of all of the red programs in the original TRON, with it taking over the digital world and enslaving many of its programs. The MCP created an authoritarian and hierarchical society, leading to many uprisings, including the one involving the freedom fighters from the original TRON. However, Kevin Flynn and Tron were able to defeat the MCP, reverting it back to its original chess program before deleting it entirely, freeing the Grid from the MCP’s oppression.

TRON 3 Theory: Jared Leto’s Ares Is A Program Who Works For Tron’s MCP

This custom image shows Ares from TRON: ARES from the back with a glow around him.
Custom Image by Dani Kessel Odom

Although Jared Leto’s Ares program isn’t in TRON or TRON: Legacy, this TRON 3 theory proposes that the character is actually a program that works for the Master Control Program. The red light is the biggest sign of this, as this aesthetic has only meant two things throughout TRON‘s history: allegiance to the MCP or allegiance to Clu. Kevin Flynn was able to reintegrate Clu into himself at the end of TRON: Legacy, meaning that it would be unlikely for him to be the one in charge of Ares.

If the Grid were rebooted for some unknown reason, it would be possible for the villainous programs to realign themselves to the MCP, something that could explain the presence of Jared Leto’s Ares character. The motivations of Leto’s Ares aren’t quite known yet, as details regarding the story of TRON: Ares are still pretty slim. However, it is clear that this character is (or at least starts as) a villain. Since the MCP is the overarching villain of the TRON franchise, it only makes sense for Leto’s character to be working for him in TRON: Ares.

TRON: Legacy Set Up How Master Control Program Could Return In TRON 3

The biggest hole in this theory is that the MCP is deleted at the end of the original TRON. However, TRON: Legacy already perfectly set up how the Master Control Program could return in TRON 3. The Master Control Program was originally written by a computer programmer named Edward Dillinger in the first TRON, with him being the cause of all the villainy throughout the film. TRON: Legacy took things one step further by casting Cillian Murphy as Edward Dillinger Jr., with this being the perfect route to bringing the MCP back.

Much like his father, Dillinger Jr. is a computer programmer, with TRON: Legacy hinting that the character could work to bring the MCP back in a future movie. Although this hasn’t happened yet, TRON: Ares shouldn’t waste this TRON: Legacy villain setup, meaning that Edward Dillinger Jr. needs to return. Bringing this character back could allow for the return of the MCP, explaining why Jared Leto’s Ares is red. TRON: Legacy seemed to already be heading down this route, so it is entirely possible that TRON: Ares can continue this storyline.

What MCP’s Role In TRON: Ares Would Mean For The Story

Bringing the Master Control Program back in TRON: Legacy would be a significant move, as it would mean a lot for the story. Having Ares serve the MCP would open up a lot of possibilities for the film’s story, as it means that Ares could be a program designed to help the MCP overthrow the Grid once again. It could also be that Ares is working to free the MCP, bringing him back from his deletion at the end of the original TRON. This would also mean that TRON: Ares would be about shutting the MCP down again.


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Having the MCP return in the upcoming film would also be a big deal because it would confirm that TRON: Ares is a TRON and TRON: Legacy sequel. The canon status of TRON: Ares is currently unknown, as it could be a soft reboot, a sequel, or a fully original story. However, building off of TRON‘s main story and TRON: Legacy‘s villain setup would undeniably make the upcoming film a sequel. Although nothing has been confirmed yet, having the MCP return in TRON: Ares is an opportunity that is too perfect to miss.

Tron Mondo Poster

Tron: Ares

Tron: Ares is the third film in the Tron franchise created by Steven Lisberger in the early ’80s. The movie is a direct sequel to 2010’s Tron: Legacy and stars Jared Leto in the lead role of Ares. Jesse Wigutow penned the screenplay for Disney, who previously worked on the 2015 TV Movie, The Prince. 

Joachim Rønning

Release Date
December 19, 2025

Jesse Wigutow

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