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Every Way The Matrix Resurrections Retcons The Original Trilogy

Did the original Matrix trilogy really happen, or was it all just a dream? Here’s every past storyline The Matrix Resurrections seems to retcon. After 1999’s The Matrix, the digital misadventures of Neo were continued by The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, released in quickfire succession during a busy 2003 to form the “Matrix trilogy.” Both were sequels is the most traditional sense, and delivered a definite conclusion in which Neo heroically sacrifices himself to save humanity.

The Matrix Resurrections apparently has other ideas. A fourth Matrix movie spent 18 years going back and forth at Warner Bros. before eventually coming to fruition in 2019, when a new entry starring franchise veterans Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss was announced. Naturally, everyone assumed “The Matrix 4” would be another straight sequel, most likely set some time after the original trilogy. That assumption may yet prove true, but The Matrix Resurrections‘ first official trailer strongly suggests otherwise. A few intriguing shots aside, the footage contains nothing to connect The Matrix Resurrections to its trio of predecessors, and it’s still not clear how the dots will eventually join, if they join at all.


Related: The Matrix Trilogy Ending Explained: Neo’s Sacrifice And New Reboot

Throwing another log onto the fire, Warner Bros. release a synopsis vaguely hinting that The Matrix Resurrections will rewrite franchise canon, and the 2003 sequels in particular. As fans face a chin-stroking few months, these are all of the moments and details from The Matrix Resurrections that currently appear to retcon the original trilogy’s ending.

Neo & Trinity Died (But Are Fine Now)

Neo and Trinity in Matrix Resurrections

The highly-anticipated returns of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss were revealed on day 1, spawning endless theories on how Neo and Trinity might be revived. Both characters died during the course of saving the world in The Matrix Revolutions – Trinity crashed their ship in Machine City and landed herself on a pole, while Neo nobly gave his life to defeat Agent Smith. The title “The Matrix Resurrections” hints toward both characters somehow coming back from the dead, and the trailer includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot possibly depicting Neo being re-combobulated by Machines. Nevertheless, there’s still nothing concrete to place The Matrix Resurrections after The Matrix Revolutions in the timeline, nor to say that Neo and Trinity successfully managed to cheat death. All we know is that both characters are back – in one form or another.

Neo’s Machine Truce From The Matrix Revolutions

Keanu Reeves Neo Matrix revolutions

In the climax of the original Matrix trilogy, Neo bargains to defeat Agent Smith – now a threat to human and Machine alike – in exchange for peace. The long-standing war for Zion ends, and a conversation between the Oracle and Architect confirms the metal-folk plan to keep their end of Neo’s arrangement – if only because lying is strictly a human pastime. Consequently, many expected The Matrix Resurrections to introduce a totally different villain; perhaps a foe mankind and their new best friends in Machine City could both do without. Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, and Morpheus all remain contenders for the top villain spot, but trailer footage makes out like it’s the Machines causing trouble all over again.

Not only does The Matrix Resurrections‘ first look contain shots of Machines fully up and running, but the Agents are back to give Morpheus’ crew a hard ride. Hollywood’s best dressed goons served as guardians of the Matrix once upon a time, ensuring compliance back when Machines were the dominant species. With Neo’s truce in effect, their presence shouldn’t be necessary. Though it’s still unclear exactly who’s good and who’s not in The Matrix Resurrections, have the Machines simply forgotten about their promise to Neo?

Related: The Matrix Resurrections’ Best Modern Trick Is More Humor

Humans Should’ve Been Unplugged From The Matrix

Keanu Reeves as Thomas Neo in Matrix Resurrections

Another condition of Neo’s truce was releasing all humans from the Matrix simulation, which should’ve triggered wholesale change in the Wachowskis’ fictional world. The Matrix itself would be emptied, the Machines would have to find a new power source, and Zion would become much, much larger – but there’s nothing remotely of that sort happening in The Matrix Resurrections. The fake world is absolutely thriving, with Neo’s digital San Francisco just as bustling as the real deal. These citizens are no mere NPCs either – a shot of Machine City reveals a battery rammed with plugged-in human bodies. Judging by The Matrix Resurrections‘ trailer alone, the Machines aren’t only back, they’re better than ever.

Without more context, it’s impossible to say why the Matrix is in full operation again. Perhaps humans lived up to their reputation for self-destruction and Deus ex Machina was forced to step in, breaking the truce to save humanity from itself. Maybe the digital simulation is now populated entirely by bluepills who consent to spending their entire lives as glorified phone chargers. Whatever the reason, the sight of a fully-functioning Matrix driving power to a huge human battery in The Matrix Resurrections looks like another reset of the original trilogy’s ending.

Morpheus Hasn’t Aged Since The Matrix Trilogy Ended

Yahya Abdul Mateen red pill in Matrix Resurrections

Has The Matrix Resurrections performed a retcon on Morpheus’ face? Very early in production, rumors had Yahya Abdul-Mateen II pinned as a new version of Morpheus. Trailer footage all but confirms those theories, showing the actor doing Morpheus-like things in Morpheus-like clothes (with a Morpheus-like attitude). The casting raises enough questions to trigger a philosophical crisis, but the biggest is why Morpheus still looks young when Neo and Trinity are clearly both older.

On one hand, Lana Wachowski might’ve decided to re-imagine the Morpheus character, something like casting a new James Bond or Doctor Who. A fan-favorite solution, however, is time travel – present-day Neo and Trinity teaming up with a younger Morpheus plucked from before the original trilogy began. Though this explanation would be preferable to a straight-up actor switch, breaking the time-space continuum risks creating a retcon of its own. The usual temporal conundrum of why Morpheus wouldn’t mention his meeting with Neo’s older self when they later encounter each other during the original trilogy.

Related: The Matrix 4 Can’t Just Ignore The Sequels (Despite Them Being Bad)

Moments From The First Matrix Movie

Trinity scenes in Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections draws visual parallels to 1999’s The Matrix – Neo and Morpheus sparring in the dojo, choosing between red and blue pills, following a white rabbit tattoo, etc. Some moments, however, move beyond mere allusion and are replicated almost exactly. The best example (so far, at least) is the shot of Trinity sitting next to a phone when police burst into the room. The images are identical… but not, taking place in different rooms and clearly filmed 20 years apart. Whether the mirroring is just a clever Easter egg or some indication of the mad plot Lana Wachowski has in store remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it’s possible that sequences we all know and love are being replaced or rewritten in The Matrix Resurrections. Like “Han shot first” all over again.

Neo & Trinity’s Memories & Powers

We can deduce from The Matrix Resurrections‘ trailer that Neo and Trinity regain more of their old selves as the narrative progresses – but is it really their old selves coming to the surface? Neither character has any recollection of before, completely ignorant of each other and the past 3 movies when The Matrix Resurrections begins. That alone could be interpreted as a retcon. If the cast don’t remember what went down 20 years ago, does the original trilogy even count?

More curious is how their powers and abilities have evolved since The Matrix Revolutions hit theaters in 2003. As a redpill, Trinity could affect her digital environment in all manner of gravity-defying ways. She possessed more or less the same powers Yahya Abdul-Mateen and Jessica Henwick are spotted using in The Matrix Resurrections‘ trailer. Now, Trinity is using some kind of strange vocal echo, the likes of which we’ve never seen previously.

As The One, Neo boasted even greater gifts. The Matrix‘s protagonist learned flight, telekinesis, and how to manipulate the simulation any way he wished. Though Neo regains a semblance of his strength in The Matrix Resurrections, trailer footage shows him predominantly wielding a bright light power from his palms. None can say whether The One’s abilities have altered or whether Neo himself is changed, but these certainly aren’t the moves we remember him using back in the day.

More: Theory: “The Matrix” Was A 1990s Movie In The Matrix Resurrections

  • The Matrix Resurrections (2021)Release date: Dec 22, 2021

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