What Can we Expect from the Next Installment of a Cyberpunk Classic?
So The Matrix 4 is confirmed. But what will it look like? There are so many questions!
A Refresh Course for The Matrix
In The Matrix Reloaded, the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) explained that their matrix was in fact the sixth iteration of the matrix. This means that there were five different matrices that all ended, the first one being a “perfect world” that was ultimately too perfect. Most humans rebelled and whole fields of ‘crops’ were lost, a complete disaster. As a result, the architect found a way to reboot the system in cycles with Neo as the inherent anomaly coded into the Matrix itself. This anomaly (Neo) has a choice to restart the Matrix or let the whole system crash killing everyone inside. While his five predecessors chose restarting and saving humanity, Neo 6.0 chooses Trinity and love, rejecting the choice and potentially dooming all of humanity.
Neo and Trinity then decide to go to the machine city. They ‘surface in the desert of the real’ in The Matrix Revolutions. Upon crash landing in the machine city, Trinity dies in the ship after getting impaled. This is different from her Matrix death which Neo was able to revive her from in Reloaded, where he reached into her matrix body to remove bullets and then restart her heart.
Neo then makes an agreement with the machines. He goes into the Matrix, lets Smith (Hugo Weaving) copy him, and then allows the machines to kill his physical body and thus destroy Smith.
Revolutions ends ambiguously, watching the sunrise on the new seventh iteration of the Matrix. Let’s take a look at this pivotal final scene, as the Oracle shares some important clues as to where The Matrix 4 may pick up.
Oracle: Beautiful! Did you do that?
(Oracle references the Gorgeous Rainbow. Sati nods)
Sati: For Neo.
O: that’s nice. I know he’d love it.
S: Will we ever see him again?
O: I suspect so. Someday.
This final scene tells us that the humans and machines have brokered a peace that might not last forever thanks to Neo. For now, humans have a choice to be free or to be enslaved. But with Neo and Trinity dead, how will they come back? Why does the Oracle tell Sati she thinks they will see Neo again?
Theories for Possible Matrix 4 Plots and Themes
The upcoming movie could be set in a future iteration of The Matrix (7+). Maybe it will be titled The Matrix Rebooted or The Matrix Resurrected? Since past anomalies probably looked like Neo, future anomalies will look like Neo again. If so, it’s likely that he will have no memories of his past lives. Connected lives is a theme that we’ve actually seen in other works from The Wachowskis like Cloud Atlas or Sense 8.
Another theory for the conflict could be that in this new version, the war goes from overt to covert. Humans are supposed to be free, but maybe the machines are thinking of going back on their word or changing the deal. After all, the Architect never gave his word since he’s “not human”. So there could be a mystery that needs to be solved of nefarious actions from the machines or from an outcast program like Smith or the Merovingian ( Lambert Wilson).
Another question is how central will Reeves and Moss be?
Will Neo be a main character or will he and Trinity be supporting characters like J.J. Abrams’ new Star Wars trilogy? Will Neo become the new Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), guiding other humans who want to escape the Matrix? Will he have memory flashes to past lives he doesn’t understand, similar to Blade Runner 2049? The future story may depend strongly on why Neo is resurrected.
Many of the ideas Lilly and I explored 20 years ago about our reality are even more relevant now.
So what themes is she referring to?
Propaganda and fake news? Simulated realities and conspiracy thinking? How society can function without trust in systems of authority? Maybe The Matrix 4 will be about the machines trying to lure humanity back into the Matrix in order to increase their energy output by making the argument that everyone would be better served to see the world as Cypher did, in ignorant bliss.
There’s also the theme of gender identity, a theme the Wachowskis had wanted to explore with the character of Switch(Belinda McClory) from the first Matrix movie. She was originally supposed to be a woman in the real world and a man in the Matrix, thus “switching” her gender and the source of her Matrix name.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the answers to those questions. But there are a few more things we hope the Wachowskis will do.
Take Inspiration from The Animatrix and Other Weird Stuff
Let’s quickly review what was in The Animatrix, in case you never saw it or you just don’t remember it very well. That is fair. There were nine different stories after all.
- The final flight of the Osiris: A prelude to The Matrix Reloaded, it explains how Commander Locke( Harry Lennix) got the crucial piece of intelligence that the machines were digging to Zion and about to lead a full-scale attack.
- The Second Renaissance Part I: How the Matrix came to be as well as the origins of the war between the humans and the machines.
- The Second Renaissance Part II: continuing the story of part I. Humanities’ final defeat and the beginning of the Matrix.
4. Kid’s Story: How the kid (Clayton Watson)who appears in Reloaded as Neo’s superfan, and opens the gates of Zion for the Logos at the end of Revolutions, was able to unplug himself from the Matrix by believing in Neo.
5. Program: A story set in a sparring program in Feudal Japan between human members of a ship’s crew.
6. World Record: An athlete who pushes himself to his physical and mental limits in the Matrix, wakes himself up briefly and then frees his mind in the Matrix again.
7. Beyond: When areas in the Matrix glitch, children discover the perfect playground where the laws of gravity don’t apply.
8. A Detective Story: A human detective in the matrix is tasked with finding trinity, unaware that agents are using him to get to her.
9. Matriculated: A human team in the real world bait and catch machines in order to try to convert them to their cause by changing their programming in the Matrix.
Final Flight of the Osiris, Program, and Detective Story are great stories for Lana’s team to draw inspiration from. Matriculated also has a lot of potential for the possibility of human/machine identity fusions.
Bring Back Philosophy Like in the First Matrix
But what elements of philosophy will they explore this time? This remains a true mystery for me. They’ve already explored free will and fate, as well as reality. Will they explore identity this time? Creating reality or trusting facts and information?
Will Matrix 4 say one final goodbye to Neo and Trinity? Start a brand new trilogy?
Clues for Matrix 4 in Other Wachowski Creations
I’m surprised that I haven’t read anyone else who have thought about this, but here’s a major relevant place to look for clues for Matrix 4: Cloud Atlas and Sense 8.
Why? Let’s look at who is reported to have already written the script: Lana Wachowski, Aleksandar Hemon, and David Mitchell. Again, the script is already written. Therefore, to glean what this mystery script contains, the best indications of what the story will be about should be by watching the Season two finale of Sense 8.
Why? Because guess who wrote the script for the finale? That’s right. Lana Wachowski, Aleksandar Hemon, and David Mitchell.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Bae Doona features in Matrix 4 as well. She was a pivotal character in the cyberpunk section of Cloud Atlas and she’s a major character in Sense 8’s series as well. She has worked many times closely with the Wachowskis, so she seems like an obvious choice especially considering how the Wachowskis seem to like working with people they know and trust.
What do you think? Any ideas on what the The Matrix 4 will be about? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.