When Keanu Reeves steps back into the role of Neo in The Matrix: Resurrections this December, he’ll do so alongside a familiar character with an unfamiliar face when Yahya Abdul-Mateen takes on the role of Morpheus.
The first trailer as well as preview images for the film released by Entertainment Weekly shows Yahya Abdul-Mateen taking on the role of a younger, different Morpheus alongside Keanu Reeves as Neo. Similar to the first movie, the latest installment sees them doing some combat training as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen donning the familiar trench coat and tiny sunglasses look that Laurence Fishburne made so iconic in the early 2000s.
Here’s a closer look…
And another, zoomed in version of the first image…
For those unfamiliar, Morpheus was the character who sought out Keanu Reeves’ Neo (AKA Thomas A. Anderson) believing him to be the prophesied one to finally take down the machine-generated world designed to keep humanity at bay; known as The Matrix. He was originally played by actor Laurence Fishburne in one of the most beguiling and unique performances in recent memory. Three movies later and their mission was complete. The last time (most) audiences saw Morpheus, he was celebrating a job well done with the rest of humanity at the fall of the machines following the conclusion of the 2003 Matrix Revolutions. Now we are getting a sense of what Yahya Abdul-Mateen will bring to the character.
Speaking to New York Magazine in August of 2020, Fishburne revealed that he had not been invited back to reprise his role in the upcoming fourth installment in the franchise, despite Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss returning as Neo and Trinity respectively. However, just because Laurence Fishburne won’t be around to lend his impressive baritone voice to the character doesn’t mean Morpheus won’t play a key role in whatever adventure brings Neo and Trinity back into the fold in The Matrix: Resurrections.
Speaking to the outlet, Yahya Abdul-Mateen noted that he’s not interested in replacing Laurence Fishburne’s version of the character, nor is he trying to throw any shade at it. Instead, he’s simply trying to do what everyone on the cast and crew of the fourth Matrix movie is doing — usher in a new generation. Unfortunately, he’s unable to explain why Morpheus looks and sounds different in the new movie while Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss were allowed to age and remain the same. While fans can speculate about Morpheus being an important cog in the cyclical cycle that is the rise and fall of humanity against the machines, Yahya Abdul-Mateen knows how not to violate an NDA. So, fans will just have to wait until the film hits theaters and HBO Max in December.
Still, if your plot dictates that someone has to step in to reimagine a beloved classic character, Yahya Abdul-Mateen is the way to go. Not only do the latest pictures make him look like a worthy contemporary to Keanu Reeves’ Neo, but he’s done this exact kind of thing before — kind of a lot, actually. The 35-year-old won an Emmy for reimagining the beloved comic book character Dr. Manhattan in HBO’s Watchmen series despite Billy Crudup seemingly having the definitive performance as the character in 2009. He captured lightning in a bottle again most recently when he led the cast of the Jordan Peele-produced sequel to the original Candyman movie earlier this year. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also the man who brought the comic book character Black Manta alive in the first Aquaman movie — and he’ll do it again in the upcoming sequel.
In short, if you need someone to make The Matrix work without the star power of Laurence Fishburne (provided you at least have Keanu Reeves as Neo, otherwise — what are we doing?) then your film could do a lot worse than the expert reimagining chops of Yahya Abdul-Mateen.