Theological Points of Tron: Legacy

Last night I saw Tron: Legacy and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it. The movie certainly wants you to draw a parallel between it and certain aspects of the Bible, so we’ll start by looking at exactly how it does this. Then we’ll move on to more speculative symbolism I saw that lead me to believe it was anti-Christian or at least wanted people to think about whether certain non-traditional theological positions were viable. I will not attempt to hide spoilers, so don’t read any further if you don’t want the ending ruined.

The movie had an almost face-palm level of explicit Biblical parallels. A man creates a program “in his image”. I wanted to laugh that they kept using that phrase. The program was perfect at first, but then it started thinking on its own and got away from him. It started doing evil. Then this man’s son has to come and save everyone. Many of the programs inside of Tron use the phrase “our creator” to refer to the father.

Another story told in the movie is how this girl was about to be destroyed by the evil guys only to find “the father” standing over her after she blacked out and he “saved her”. The father’s disk contains all the information about everything in the grid, so in a sense the father is omniscient. Clearly the father is a stand in for the Biblical God since he creates a whole universe and is omniscient (and by some of the actions he performs in the movie, he seems omnipotent as well). I don’t think the Christian parallels are all in my head.

There is some sketchy theology that occurs that might be in my head, though. The “real world” outside of the grid seems to be a symbol for heaven. If this is true, it presents a very interesting theological point. The evil guy wants to let everyone into heaven. It is only because the father is “selfish” that only some get to go there. So a point is made that not letting everyone into heaven even though it is in his power to do so is selfish. Of course, he isn’t allowing the people who follow the evil guy in and he does want to allow the “good creations” in.

The next non-traditional theological point is that the reason evil came into the world was not the evil guy’s fault since he was made in the father’s image. In fact, the evil guy is in some sense the father, so it is actually the father’s fault. The father recognizes this, and explicitly says it in the movie and apologizes to his creations for allowing it to happen. The creations took a life of their own and he lost control. So theologically this seems to be trying to explain the problem of evil by saying that the father is not actually omnipotent, and that the creations don’t have to follow his plan. Also, it puts the responsibility on the father and not on the creations. This is much closer to a deist position than a theist position.

Lastly, the father actually sacrifices himself to save everyone. Now when it is worded that way, it seems to follow traditional Christian doctrine, except that the way it is done in the movie seems to indicate that the father is literally gone after that. The way that God gives salvation is to remove himself from the equation (a phrase used many times during the movie). i.e. In terms of theology, the movie seems to want to reinterpret the meaning of the sacrifice as saying that God no longer exists. Maybe he did at one time, but not after the crucifixion.

This is why I think Tron: Legacy is explicitly anti-Christian. It makes the creator a helpless person that has to sit by and watch his creations destroy eachother. There is nothing he can do about the evil. Which of course gets around the problem of evil, but also puts God in a merely creator role. The theology puts God as sometimes loving, but mostly a selfish creator. On the other hand, it tries to rewrite the evils explicitly done by God in the Bible by making the evil guy do them. The theology says that God should apologize to us and not the other way around.

Interestingly, the purpose of the son going into Tron is to save the father (you know, the one responsible for the evil) and is not there for the purpose of saving the people committing the evil acts (again, not their fault according to the movie since they were designed in the image of an evil creator). The son is also told when he enters that his purpose is to “survive” which is quite the opposite of his purpose in the Bible.

Maybe I’m just seeing too much in this, but usually I can turn off my brain from doing this if it is just subtle symbolism. In this case, everything was so explicit I had to watch in horror as my brain kept trying to fit all the symbols into a theological viewpoint. I couldn’t turn it off because all the phrases they kept using were designed with the intention of evoking these thoughts.


14 thoughts on “Theological Points of Tron: Legacy

  1. Good review. I don’t know if I saw it as overtly anti-Christian, but I did like the idea that perfection could not be created from an imperfect man. I think it is an indictment of idolatry. The creator in Tron was imperfect therefore the world he created was also imperfect. Even his best program was corrupted trying to be a good god. Same way that as we create our own security or perfection outside of God by trusting in our careers, relationships, or material success we will also miss the perfection of the truly perfect God that made us. Happy New Year!

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  3. Thank you for a really great analysis, it’s profound and gave me lots to think of!
    But I disagree with some of your statements:

    * I think Tron Legacy is explicitly anti-Christian. It makes the creator a helpless person that has to sit by and watch his creations destroy each other. There is nothing he can do about the evil*
    – Quit the opposite – this idea of Tron is a very Christian one!
    Christianity tells that God created us and gave us free will to lead our lifes by ourselves. That’s the answer to the paradox for children: «God is omnipotent; There is evil in this world; So either God is not omnipotent or God is evil». God wants US to overholm evil, because if HE decides EVERYTHING, there will be no difference between HIM and Diable (Clu). This struggle with Evil helps us to develop.
    Of course, it doesn’t mean that God WANTED Evil to appear – but he can’t destroy Evil by it’s own methods (that is precisely what Kevin told to Sam). It’s evident that Kevin was not helpless at all – when he saw that the situation became critical, and without his help Sam and Quorra won’t stop Clu, he stepped in and did it himself. But look how he did it – not killing Clu, but letting him inside himself!

    *the purpose of the son going into Tron is to save the father (you know, the one responsible for the evil) and is not there for the purpose of saving the people*
    – The desire to save father was Sam’s first propose (he couldn’t know about Tron people before entering Tron:) But when he was in Tron he began to struggle Clu from the first minutes.

    *The evil guy wants to let everyone into heaven. It is only because the father is “selfish” that only some get to go there. So a point is made that not letting everyone into heaven even though it is in his power to do so is selfish.*
    – Clu doesn’t want to let EVERYONE into heaven. He just wants to conquer the «real world» and to rule it with the same terror he ruled the virtuality. That’s what Kevin and Sam try to prevent.

  4. Hi. I believe you can look to Christian Gnostic theology (with some mixture of buddhism) for more answers to what Tron is all about rather than just purely mainstream Christian theology. It is quite the opposite that the real world is heaven and the digital world isn’t, the digital world used to be paradise just like the garden of eden, but the Father created Clu, which is similar to the gnostic Demiurge, who attempted to create the perfect reality, and in seeking perfection actually created imperfection. In the movie the repeating “removing oneself from the equation” speaks of zen buddhism wherein one must become emptiness, and this analysis is backed up by how he says “you’re messing with my zen thing, man.”, how he sits on his zabuton inside his house, meditating, and how he says he’s going to ‘knock on the sky’ near the end of the movie before he meditates, as ‘knock on the sky and listen to the sound’ is a zen koan. Also, the emerging of the ISOs out of the system spontaneously is an allusion to the Mahayana conception of emptiness, as form spontaneously arises from emptiness, just as emptiness is form, and form is emptiness.

  5. Just finished watching Tron with my wife, we couldn’t help but see some biblical parallels in there as-well so it wasn’t just you. I wouldn’t say the film is anti-Christian per se, but it clearly isn’t biblical but its not meant to be…its a sci-fi movie. On a basic level there are certainly some biblical allusions, father creates the world with the help of the son, the creation go awol, and the son comes to rescue his creation. Thanks for your post, it was nice to see we weren’t the only ones who saw something in it 😛

  6. Wow. I think you are 100%. I fully agree with what you are saying.
    And to add to that, you know how the girl in the movie was ‘the last of her kind?’….
    is she not like the Church that The Son wil come back to ‘heaven’ with ‘last of its kind’ (amongst all of the evil people) during the end times?

    I am a believer and after watching that movie, it scares me to think of what other subliminal messages could be in Other recent movies, movies that the rest of the world judge as pure innocent entertainment. I mean, how could one find evil of any sort in a teenage movie such as this one? Isn’t it ‘Just Entertainment’?
    …(Yet how does ‘Just Entertainment’ have the capability to willingly allow you to sit in a dark room, with surround sound bleeding through your eardrums Ever which way, watching a blinking light flash at 24 frames per second, as you soak up Alll of the information you see and hear when you are most open state [aka your scientifically proven most hypnotic state])

    Dont fall for it. Im telling you.
    After all, Who do we think is controlling the media now? Who do we think is REALLY behind all of the recent ‘spirit worshiping and possessing’ going on with hollywood actors and music artists (look it up-ex: denzel washington on the interview with opera for his ‘one tear’ in a recent movie. Such a good actor too….:/ )?

    I think We know who wants you to start thinking and believing these poisonous thoughts…
    Only by Gods supernatural shield will we be protected by that supernatural evil being (hey, cant fight supernatural with natural, gotta find something more powerful, and that my friends is God alone).

    Thank you for your wonderful post:)

  7. Nina Marie you are a freaking donut. “Only by Gods supernatural shield will we be protected by that supernatural evil being” – what crock!


  8. I feel like most of you are missing the point entirely. This movie is simply a re-enactment. In other words, you have a mortal father, a mortal son, and the mortal father’s creations. Thus, they can make good choices but nothing they do will be “perfect”. So you have Kevin, who is playing the Tron role of the Father, but he himself is human so he cannot make infinitely perfect choices. So we have the imperfect father, whose imperfect human son comes into the world of Tron to save the imperfect human father. And because of the imperfection of the father, everything that has come from the imperfect human father is even more imperfect. There are great christian parallels in this show, I agree. A major one is the prodigal son with an adventurous twist. Sam is angry at the world for the loss of his father, and therefore does everything he can to do the opposite of what his father would want (running the company, leading a healthy positive lifestyle, and moving on with his life after his father’s “death”). Instead the implication is that he has continued to cause chaos at his father’s company throughout his life. But despite all of his issues, he still ends up standing in front of the Tron game at Flynn’s and eventually being embraced and forgiven by his father. Then comes the idea of following God’s will. The concept that God leaves small “signs” or clues about what we should do in any given situation. Some of these clues might be in His Word (the Bible), but other clues might just be a gut feeling or something someone else says. The clues followed in the movie are the page sent to Allen (Kevin’s business partner) from a disconnected number, the way the game spits the quarter out so that Sam will bend over and see the scrapes on the floor, thus leading to his moving the Tron game and revealing a hidden passage. It also shows how, once you start following God and listening to what He asks of you, things sometimes start to snowball. Once Sam gets into the game everything just takes off, he has no choice but to play along until his father shows up and rescues him. The show goes on and on with small parallels like these, including the more obvious ones mentioned in the original post. My point in posting this is not that you would see the parallel of Kevin as creator God and Sam as Jesus Christ, my point is that you would see what happens when a human being is placed in the role of God. Imperfection leads to imperfection and so on. Like a copy of a copy of a copy. But despite our imperfection, we are still able to make some good choices and eventually find God’s will for our lives. i realize no one will probably even see this post, because the last post on this thread was over a year ago, but I felt inclined to share my comments anyway, so if anyone feels like engaging me in a conversation on this topic I will be notified of anything posted on here. Thanks.

  9. no i dont believe this movie is christian in nature at all, its completely buddhist in nature, and conquering oneself. the father represents the whole person, who is trapped in his own world he created (everyone sees the world in their own eyes, but searches for the unachievable perfection). his main nemesis is a younger, idealized image of himself which he created (his ego) and his ego brings evil into the perfect world. at the end, he destroys his ego, and himself and his whole world for the one REAL thing in his life: human life and love (querra is derived from the italian word for love), to save the REAL world, free from ego and simple wants which is what made the fake world he was living in

  10. sorry, i made a mistake in part of the above post. the father is not the whole person, but rather the base wants of an individual… clu, the ego, and his son the good, the one symbol of real life in the fake world imagined by the father, and letting go of the two (when they die) is the only way to reach enlightenment, reach the real world and be happy. again this is show with the sunset theme. querra (love/true happiness) doesnt ever see a sunset because she is trapped by ego and wants in the fake world, and only sees a glimmer of what the real thing is like in the real world, and only experiences it’s full beauty when freed.

  11. I agree with Chris. Man in the seat of a true creator will hide.
    Passion, heart and accepting chaos coupled with wisdom is the only way to re-find humanity.

    At the same time it draws you in as ‘what if you created a reality and did not have omniscience’.

    My issues are deeper still. I will wait for the sequel to tell whether the writers are insidous or not. Until then, I take what inspiration I can as a father, creator and a man of faith.

  12. Great review, you arent reading too much into this at all, if these thoughts occur to you im sure they are painfully obvious to the stoned kids who go to movies and the devil drives his wedge farther and farther into their hearts

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