The first trailer for The Matrix Resurrections stoked the flames of fan excitement for the long-awaited fourth film in the iconic franchise. But the very existence of a fourth film also raised a host of questions. Much like the original trilogy, Resurrections (due out in theaters and on HBO Max in December) is courting speculation and theorization.
While the new film sees Keanu Reeves (Neo) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) back in their beloved roles, 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions complicates their return. (Spoiler Warning for an 18-year-old movie.) When last we saw them, Trinity had clearly been killed and Neo may or may not have died in his effort to defeat Agent Smith and restore The Matrix. Either way, his body was with the Machines, not the human survivors of Zion.
So what, exactly, is going on in The Matrix Resurrections? (Potential Spoilers Ahead)
It appears as if filmmaker Lana Wachowski may be deploying parallel continuities that exist within The Matrix franchise, connected as canon yet separate as planes of existence. We’re led to believe this as actress Ellen Hollman is confirmed to be starring as a version of Trinity in an alternate universe. This tidbit may help to decode some of the mysteries driving the upcoming film.
An alleged leak from early in The Matrix 4‘s development provides one possible answer. In the audition process, actors claimed to have read monologues in which the original trilogy of films existed in Resurrection‘s continuity as globally popular video games. This remains unconfirmed and story beats are often tweaked throughout the development of a film. But even if the video game angle has been dropped, it hints that Wachowski is playing around with the idea of alternate universes in one form or another. (We do see scenes from the original Matrix playing out in the Resurrections trailer.)
The multiverse theory would help explain why Morpheus, originally played by Lawrence Fishburne, is now played by Yahya-Abdul Mateen II. It would also provide an explanation for the resurrection of Neo and Trinity. (We see Neo’s appearance change as he stands in front of one of those funky mirrors in the trailer.) In the trilogy’s second installment, 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded, the architect explains there have been multiple iterations (or “cycles”) of the Matrix. The machines continue to shutter and redesign the system in order to achieve their ultimate goals. Perhaps Resurrections takes place in an earlier version, a new cycle, or a splinter program of the existing iteration.
With this expanded scope in mind, our heroes may be attempting to unite the various alternate universes. Or perhaps the original Matrix universe is trying to import the alternate versions of Neo and Trinity, since they are no longer present in the primary timeline. We don’t yet know, but Hollman’s presence as an alternate version of Trinity opens up a universe of intriguing possibilities—maybe several universes.