The second trailer for The Matrix Resurrections arrived to break the internet, and with that excitement also came a lot of fresh speculation. We’ve known about the upcoming fourth film in the franchise (and the first in nearly 20 years) for a while, but now that we’ve actually seen a glimpse of it we have even more questions than we did before the trailer dropped.
So, let’s ponder those for a moment, shall we? As we eagerly await the film’s arrival this holiday season, these are four of the biggest questions we have after watching The Matrix Resurrections trailer over and over.
What’s going on with Neo?
It’s a broad question, we know, but it’s the biggest one hanging over the action as The Matrix Resurrections begins to tease out its plot, particularly given what we know about The Matrix Revolutions and how it ended. Neo (real name, as the trailer reminds us, Thomas Anderson) seemingly died at the end of the last film in the original trilogy after battling the machines to an uneasy truce and sacrificing himself to defeat the increasingly powerful Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). The Matrix Online later established that the Machines never gave Neo’s body back to his fellow revolutionaries, but they also apparently didn’t destroy it either.
All of this, coupled with Oracle’s declaration at the end of Revolutions that we might see Neo again, suggests that Neo never completely died at all. He obviously exists in some form in Resurrections, he’s obviously going through some of the same questioning of reality that he experienced in the first film with some added bells and whistles, and he obviously still packs some version of the physics-defying power that made him The One in the first place. So, how is that all happening?
The simplest answer is that Neo didn’t die, or if he did die, the Machines revived him shortly thereafter and placed him back in a simulation tank, where he’s serving some purpose for them within the rebooted Matrix (hence the blue pills that would hopefully keep him docile for them). That would help explain why he’s having visions, why he feels a connection to Trinity (who is also seemingly still alive in some form), and why he’s, as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character put it, “still fighting.” It would also, of course, explain why he looks like Keanu Reeves 20 years later, instead of Keanu Reeves in 2003.
Or maybe that’s not what happened. Maybe Neo’s residual code was placed in a new body and that new body is feeling the cyclical pull back to the Matrix. However it works out, Neo’s state of being is going to have a big role to play in Resurrections, including helping to explain the film’s title.
Is that Morpheus?
It may be 20 years later, but the Matrix franchise still has certain visual hallmarks that quickly clue fans into things, or at least suggest that we might be on the right track. When it was revealed that Laurence Fishburne, who played resistance leader Morpheus in the original trilogy, wouldn’t be returning for the film, fans wondered if his role had been excised from the new narrative. Then Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was cast in the film, and then starts to make a little more sense… maybe.
It’s very clear from the Resurrections trailer that Abdul-Mateen is, at the very least, playing someone who’s super into Morpheus’ speech patterns, approach, and sense of style. He looks like Morpheus, talks like Morpheus, and even takes Neo to an idyllic dojo like Morpheus while hinting that the two of them definitely know each other.
So, is he Morpheus in a new body? That’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that he’s a program designed to behave like Morpheus, or Morpheus’ descendant, or a guy who just kinda looks like Morpheus who had Morpheus’ memories and knowledge implanted into his head. Whoever he actually is, it’s clear what role this trailer has cast him in, and that’s a fascinating wrinkle for Resurrections to explore.
How does the Matrix work now?
By the time the original trilogy is over, the simulation known as The Matrix is rebooted, and the program known as the Architect agrees to give humanity a greater sense of choice over whether they want to live out their lives in the simulation or experience the truth. It’s clear from the Resurrections trailer that the Matrix still exists, as do the people fighting against it, but that leaves plenty of lingering mystery regarding how the system actually works now.
The world within the Matrix has clearly been updated for our modern world, as we see people with smartphones, tablets, and other current technology. Is this from the reboot we saw in Revolutions, or have other reboots subsequently taken place? Then there’s the issue of how people get in and out of The Matrix. Once upon a time, a dial-up signal was needed to enter and exit, but that of course wouldn’t sync up with modern tech. Now, the trailers suggest a world where Neo and his compatriots can move through mirrors to transition between the Matrix and reality. How does that work? Are the resistance ships still set up as hubs for fighters to move in and out of the Matrix? Is any kind of signal needed at all? Do you still die in real life if you die in the Matrix? These are largely logistical questions detached from the bigger philosophical ones at work in this franchise — but they’re interesting to ponder all the same.
What happened to the truce?
At the end of The Matrix Revolutions, a truce is called between the Machines and the resistance which calls for human beings to have a greater choice in their participation in the Matrix, but also reboots the Matrix so that the Machines continue to hold sway over a majority of the population. It’s an uneasy peace that arises from Neo’s efforts to break the cyclical system of reboot and revolution that the Machines had kept in place as part of the Matrix’s programming for generations, but it’s a version of peace all the same.
So, what happened to it? Obviously there were always going to be resistance fighters who didn’t give up the battle for complete freedom, as stuff like The Matrix Online made perfectly clear, but one of the biggest question marks in the overarching Matrix mythology is how exactly things stand on that front going into Resurrections. Is it all-out war again? Are pockets of resistance making waves? Are things going fine until Neo starts to have dreams and meets Trinity again? It’ll be very interesting to see how Lana Wachowski and company navigate this particular part of the plot, and how those decisions might impact the larger universe, if future sequels beyond this one might indeed be in the cards.
The Matrix Resurrections is in theaters and on HBO Max December 22.
By Matthew Jackson