While The Bourne Legacy is undoubtedly one of our most anticipated movies of 2012, there has certainly been a lot of question surrounding this odd sequel/reboot of the popular Jason Bourne movie franchise – first and foremost being the decision to continue on without franchise star Matt Damon as the titular character, and (as a distant second) without director Paul Greengrass, who made great successes out of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. 

Of course, having Bourne franchise trilogy Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton) handling script and directing duties on this new film doesn’t hurt; nor does having  Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner stepping into center ring as the new lead. However, details on who Renner’s new secret agent character will be have been scant…until now.

Today we have a first image of Renner in The Bourne Legacy, along with details such as his character’s name, and how he fits in the Bourne universe.

First, check out what Renner had to say to Empire about his character, another agent in the shady world of assassins that fostered Bourne:

My character is called Aaron Cross, but he ends up having a bunch of different names. For fans of the franchise, [The Bourne Legacy] has that same ticking clock, but it’s a new programme and new characters.

Regarding how “Aaron Cross” fits into the already-established Bourne universe – specifically regarding the covert assassin training program called Treadstone:

Yeah, it’s that same deal, it’s just a new set of agents with a different leash. It’s the same tempo and pace but more expansive and bigger. The differences are pretty vast but you’ll know it’s a Bourne movie.

There’s enough in those statements to give us wondering fans some (much-needed) clarification, while still leaving enough room to approach this new chapter with a fresh mentality. Renner’s words also leave plenty of room for some surprises, as well as some narrative connections between this requel and the Bourne trilogy that came before it – hopefully leading to an eventual meeting between Cross and Jason Bourne himself.

Now, check out what Renner looks like as Aaron Cross (courtesy of USA Today) – and try not to mock the haircut too much:

At the moment Renner is enjoying a well-deserved hot-streak in his career, but between his new roles as a secret agent in Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, a secret agent/superhero in Marvel’s The Avengers, and this secret agent (assassin?) in Bourne Legacy…we may need to see him take on more varied roles in the near future – lest he start to run circles like some other popular leading men (Mr. Depp? Mr. Downey?).

The Bourne Legacy will be in theaters on August 3, 2012. The film also stars Ed Norton, Rachel Weisz, Oscar Isaac with Joan Allen returning as Pam Landy.

Sources: USA Today & Empire