We’re more than 16 years removed from 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, what many people assumed would be the final films in the Keanu Reeves-led saga of Neo versus the machines. But while many of us didn’t think it was going to happen, we’re getting The Matrix 4.
We’re still in the very early stages of the game. The behind-the-scenes folks are casting and writing and basically assembling the whole project. Information has seeped out here and there as the process rolls steadily along.
So, who’s in? Who’s out? When does this all happen? What’s it about? Here’s everything we know about The Matrix 4 so far.
When Will The Matrix 4 Be Released?
The Matrix 4 was originally slated to be released on May 21, 2021 but with the Coronavirus pandemic delaying the release of other movies, now that date has been abandoned. Then it was going to be released on date is April 1, 2022, but now WB has decided to release it earlier.
The Matrix 4’s current release date is December 22, 2021. WB has committed to releasing it simultaneously in movie theaters at at home on streaming. It’ll be streaming on HBO Max, for free with an HBO Max subscription.
The Matrix 4’s Director
More than just about any franchise, The Matrix is synonymous with its co-directors, Lana and Lilly Wachowski. The sisters have worked as a duo their entire careers, from their first feature Bound all the way through the first season of their Netflix series, Sense8. It’s hard to imagine a new Matrix movie without their involvement and we won’t have to. At least not entirely.
When it comes to The Matrix 4, Lana will take the helm solo. While this marks her first feature directing without Lilly, it’s not the first time she’s been by herself in the big chair. Lilly took a hiatus from the entertainment business in 2016. Though the sisters collaborated on the first season of Sense8, Lana handled all of the writing and directing duties for season two on her own.
We will have to wait to see how, if at all, this decision impacts The Matrix 4. Will we be able to spot the differences in a Lana Wachowski film versus a film by the Wachowskis? Only time will tell.
The Matrix 4’s Returning Cast Members
We’ve seen reboots, revamps, or whatever you want to call long-after-the-fact sequels arrive in a variety of ways. Mad Max: Fury Road recast the lead role with Tom Hardy, which worked like gangbusters. But we’ve also seen films that focus on new characters, like Men In Black International, which busted no gangs.
Fortunately, The Matrix 4 plans to bring back a number of key pieces. Chief among them, Keanu Reeves. It wouldn’t be a Matrix movie with Neo—he is the One, after all—so thank whatever deity you prefer that we won’t have to find out what that looks like. The star is on board to reprise one of his signature roles and probably don a lot of black clothes and a pair of dark sunglasses in the process.
Keanu Reeves isn’t the only logging back into the Matrix, however. It’s almost impossible to imagine a Matrix movie without Neo, but it’s also hard to envision one without Trinity. Carrie-Anne Moss will return to the franchise in The Matrix 4 as Neo’s love interest, partner in crime, protector, and general sci-fi badass.
In addition to the central pair, Jada Pinkett Smith is also in talks to return. If she signs on, which seems increasingly likely, she’ll reprise her role as the pilot Niobe.
Agent Smith was perhaps the most popular character in the original Matrix movies, and that popularity is due almost entirely to the performance of the actor who played him: Hugo Weaving. Unfortunately, he will not be back in The Matrix 4.
In an interview with Time Out Hugo Weaving confirms that he will not appear in The Matrix 4. Apparently the production wanted him and offered him a part, but he turned it down.
“It’s unfortunate but actually I had this offer [for “The Visit”] and then the offer came from The Matrix, so I knew it was happening but I didn’t have dates. I thought [I] could do both and it took eight weeks to work out that the dates would work – I held off on accepting [a role in “The Visit” during that time]. I was in touch with [director] Lana Wachowski, but in the end she decided that the dates weren’t going to work. So we’d sorted the dates and then she sort of changed her mind. They’re pushing on ahead without me”– -Hugo Weaving on why he won’t be in The Matrix 4
The Visit is a National Theater production, one that theater nerds are apparently pretty excited about. It seems odd though that Weaving would turn down a big Matrix paycheck to do something like this. It’s likely that perhaps that Matrix paycheck wasn’t so big after all. Maybe Agent Smith only had a smaller role.
It’s also possible that they could totally recast Agent Smith or simply have some kind of CGI version of him. But if I were placing a bet, I would guess they’ll simply write him out of The Matrix 4 script and we won’t see Agent Smith at all. No one wants Agent Smith unless he’s played by Hugo Weaving.
Lambert Wilson did not appear in the first Matrix movie, but his character The Merovingian played a key role in both The Matrix sequels. In a recent interview the French actor revealed he is now in talks to join the cast of The Matrix 4.
The Merovingian wasn’t exactly one of the franchise’s more beloved characters so bringing Lambert Wilson back is pretty unexpected. Fans with long memories will recall the character as an old and powerful program residing in The Matrix and serving as an off the grid trafficker of information. He and his wife Persephone (played by Monica Belluci in the previous movies) ran a smuggling ring and worked with programs exiled by the primary system.
The Merovingian is basically a piece of walking exposition, so it’s easy to imagine him using in the plot of the new movie just about anywhere. What I’m not sure about is if, given his previous reception, fans will actually be happy to see him back.
The Matrix 4’s New Actors
While we’ll see some familiar faces in The Matrix 4, we will also meet new characters along the way. There are sure to be more additions, but already a trio of new performers have signed onto the film.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is a star on the rise, and The Matrix 4 adds yet another high-profile role to his resume. Currently on HBO’s Watchmen, he also plays Black Manta in Aquaman and showed up in The Greatest Showman and Jordan Peele’s Us, among many others. We’ll see him soon in the Candyman reboot as well as playing Bobby Seale in The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Yahya is going all out to get in shape for The Matrix 4, a movie which could well turn out to be the biggest of his career. He posted the following video as proof of his dedication to making The Matrix’s new sequel great….
Another new player is Jessica Henwick. Like Abdul-Mateen, she is also no stranger to comic book movies, large-scale production, or up-tempo action. She’s probably best known for playing Nymeria Sand on Game of Thrones and Colleen Wing in Marvel’s Iron Fist and The Defenders. Before she battles the machines, she’ll tangle with a couple of other monsters in Godzilla vs. Kong.
Perhaps the most curious new addition is Neil Patrick Harris. Most known for his comedy chops in sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother, the former child star has shown off more dramatic skills in the likes of Gone Girl. The Matrix 4 won’t be the noted song-and-dance man’s first foray into sci-fi, however, you may remember him from a little movie called Starship Troopers.
Jonathan Groff has also been added to The Matrix 4 cast in an unknown role. Groff is best known for his voice work in the Frozen movies, where he brings Kristoff to life. He was also in the cast of Glee and currently appears on Netflix’s acclaimed series Mindhunter.
Right now, there are no details about who any of these actors will play or what roles they’ll fill. Though it’s being kept under wraps, NPH’s part has been described as being significant. It’d be fun to see him go against type and play an agent. It’s also not hard to imagine him in a role like the Oracle or Architect, a guide or program the heroes track down or meet on their journey.
With a movie of this scale, you can bet there will be plenty of more additions to the cast before we’re through. As The Matrix 4 ramps up toward production, expect to hear more news on this front.
Joe Pantoliano played the memorable traitor Cypher in the original Matrix movie. Since Cypher was killed off at the end of that film, Joey Pants hasn’t been seen back in the Matrix universe since. There had been a few unconfirmed rumors that he might show up in The Matrix 4, but on May 1, 2020 he was hospitalized after being hit by an automobile.
The accident happened in Connecticut while Pantoliano was on foot according to TMZ. His injuries were serious enough that he was rushed to a nearby hospital with a “gash” on his head and injuries to both his leg and shoulder. He received a CT scan and luckily it sounds like he’s on the mend.
Joey’s agent issued the following statement on his condition, “He is home now recuperating. He has stitches and is being monitored for a concussion and chest trauma. He is resting and thankful for all the inquiries.”
Pantoliano has worked steadily has a character actor in Hollywood for decades and continues to work even though he’s now 68-years-old. He was last seen in 2019’s Bad Boys For Life opposite Martin Lawrence and Will Smith.
The Plot Of The Matrix 4
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that there aren’t many details about The Matrix 4 available for public consumption yet. Sure it’s a Matrix movie, so it’s safe to assume it will involve, you know, the Matrix and machines and all that good stuff. Since Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back, most of us presume we’ll see Neo and Trinity. But that’s about all we know.
One persistent rumor making the rounds is that the production is looking at actors to play a young version of Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne’s character from the original trilogy. This could hint that the film is a prequel or takes place in an alternate timeline. Then again, maybe he only shows up in flashbacks or memories.
People also have questions about where the plot might go following the events of The Matrix Revolutions. Though the movie leaves his fate somewhat ambiguous, Neo basically dies, at least in some form. He meets an end fighting Agent Smith in the Matrix, then his body is taken to the Machine City. There he reaches new stages of enlightenment, transcends the need for physical form… or something. Again, his ultimate end is a matter of debate, but for all intents and purposes, Neo, as we knew him, is gone. Trinity is also dead.
What does all of this mean for The Matrix 4? As usual, there the internet has theories.
Are they going to retcon the ending of Revolutions out of the picture? That seems unlikely. However, since the Matrix rebooted at the end of Revolutions, it wouldn’t be too difficult to skirt some of these issues and take the narrative in one of countless directions.
This also isn’t the first time Neo died. His heart does stop beating in The Matrix before Trinity’s declaration of love jolts him back to life. There are a myriad ways the script could bring him back.
It’s also possible the Neo we see in The Matrix 4 might not be the same Neo we knew. He is the One, but he’s not the first. Talking with the Architect, Neo learns there have been five previous versions of the Matrix. In each, there has been some version of the One and he’s actually the sixth of these messiah figures. As noted, at the end of Revolutions, the Matrix reboots again. It stands to reason that if each previous incarnation has a One, the seventh will as well. That could be the Neo in the new film.
Though Keanu Reeves is returning to the franchise, there’s no word on how big a role he’ll play. It’s possible he’s not the protagonist. Some theorize that Young Morpheus could be the lead and Neo might play a mentor role. If this does, in fact, take place in a new version of the Matrix, where everything has started over from scratch, this could be plausible.
One huge spoilerific rumor which just started making the rounds is the idea that the original Matrix Trilogy exists in The Matrix 4… but only as a sci-fi video game. The rumor comes from leaked audition tapes which feature actors talking about a game called “The Trilogy”.
The scene acted out in those tapes has actors reflecting on how this game has changed people’s lives and changed their view on “free will versus destiny”. They talk about a protagonist called Mr. Sanderson and a woman in the game who looks like “you know who”.
This could explain how Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss will fit into the world of The Matrix 4. They may simply be characters in a video game and all the events of the original Matrix trilogy are just another layer in the delusion pulled over people’s eyes to keep them enslaved to the machines.
If this rumor is true, that would make The Matrix 4 more of a soft-reboot, a la Star Wars: The Force Awakens, than an actual sequel to The Matrix Trilogy. It also calls into question how much Neo and Trinity will actually be in this movie, if they’re just characters in a video game which doesn’t actually exist.
These are just a few ideas, theories, and possibilities that people have come up with. Some sound interesting, some sound believable, but right now, we don’t know much concretely.
Why Lawrence Fishburne Isn’t Back As Morpheus
Until now we hadn’t actually gotten confirmation on whether Lawrence Fishburne will be in The Matrix 4, but now we know. It was Fishburne himself who made the announcement.
Lawrence had this to say about The Matrix 4 in New York Magazine: “I have not been invited. Maybe that will make me write another play. I wish them well. I hope it’s great.“
That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t see Morpheus in the movie, though I sure hope we don’t. I don’t think anyone wants to see him if he isn’t played by Fishburne.
The Matrix 4’s Writers
The Matrix is truly the brainchild of the Wachowskis. The sisters directed all three previous Matrix movies and they also wrote them. This time, as she is with the directing, Lilly is sitting it out when it comes to writing the script. For the first time in the saga, Lana will be the only Wachowski with a writing credit. She won’t, however, undertake this endeavor alone.
David Mitchell and Aleksander Hemon will help hash out the story. Both are most known as novelists, but this won’t be their first foray into movies or scripted dramas. Both previously worked with Lana on Sense8 in some capacity, as well as with each other.
A British writer, Mitchell is best known as the author of Cloud Atlas, which the Wachowski’s adapted in 2012. Additionally, he’s the author of eight other novels, including number9dream and The Bone Clocks. He teamed with Lana Wachowski on the second season of Sense8, contributing in both a plotting and scripting capacity. Along with Lana and Hemon, he also helped pen the Sense8 series finale.
Bosnian by birth, Hemon’s most notable works are the novels Nowhere Man (or collection of linked short stories, depending on who you ask) and The Lazarus Project. Like Mitchell, his film work is rather limited. Aside from his work on Sense8 and The Matrix 4, his only other credit is Love Island, a Bosnian romantic comedy.
Though neither Hemon nor Mitchell has a ton of screenwriting experience, both are known for using innovative storytelling techniques, unique structures, and big, sweeping, era-jumping narratives. Mitchell especially has a fascination with technology, but both create works full of sprawling themes and ideas. All of this seems to mesh perfectly with the philosophically minded action of The Matrix universe.
The Matrix 4 In Production
The Matrix 4 began February 2020. Footage of the production filming on the streets has already been leaked. Below is a crazy car chase they filmed, with dozens and dozens of actors swarming and jumping on the cars…
Shortly afterward, because this is The Matrix 4 and that’s the sort of thing they do, they set all the cars on fire…
And here’s Keanu Reeves on set preparing to get involved in the mayhem…
Below is an incredible video of The Matrix 4 team shooting a crazy high-wire stunt in San Francisco…
The candid set video below gives us our first look ever at Keanu Reeves back as Neo…
What’s surprising is how casual Keanu looks. He’s dressed more like a construction worker than the cool, black-clad Neo we know from the previous movies. Still it’s been a long time since we’ve seen him. Keanu Reeves hasn’t played Neo in nearly seventeen years.
The previous Matrix films were shot back-to-back in Australia. While the bulk of the production took place in Fox Studios in Sydney, they also made use of other locations. It stands to reason that, with a production of this scale, even if Chicago is the primary base of operations, there will be multiple others as well.
There’s no announced budget yet for The Matrix 4, but we assume it’s large. After all, these are massive, expansive stories full of innovative technology and that utilize tons of special effects. It’s also a well-known, well-loved IP, one that has proven very profitable.
The 1999 original had a rather restrained price tag of $63 million, but the subsequent sequels each cost $150 million. With the current cost of big studio tentpoles being what it is, we won’t be shocked if the final budget winds up around $200 million. That’s speculation, of course, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.
Then again, the Wachowskis’ past few movies haven’t been financially successful. Their last effort, Jupiter Ascending, was a box office flop. Before that, Cloud Atlas, despite critical acclaim, also struggled to find an audience in theaters. Despite The Matrix name and clout, the studio might be reluctant to write such a large check this time around and we could be looking at a more modestly budgeted project.
Is The Matrix 4 A Reboot?
Since the original Matrix trilogy raked in north of $1.6 billion at the box office, there’s long been rumblings of more. Notably, in 2014, there were reports the studio planned a whole new trilogy that never materialized.
Most recently, in 2017, there was talk of a reboot. Creed and Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan was linked to the Neo role, while Zak Penn, screenwriter of Ready Player One and The Incredible Hulk, was on tap to write the script.
Again, nothing happened on that front. Given that The Matrix 4 is indeed happening and nearing production, that reboot is probably dead. It looks like the studio opted to add another chapter to the story rather than try to write the book again.
The Hidden Message Behind The Movies
The Matrix was created and directed by what everyone thought was two brothers, both of whom have now transitioned and come out as women. And even though at the time everyone thought they were men, the two Wachowskis were struggling with their gender identity. So it should come as no surprise that their struggle worked its way into the plot of The Matrix movies and will likely continue to be a factor in The Matrix 4. In fact, Lilly Wachowski recently revealed that The Matrix is actually all an allegory for transgender issues.
Keanu Reeves recently heard about this reveal from the Wachowskis and here’s how he reacted to it…
“I never spoke to Lilly about that, she never conveyed that to me. I think The Matrix films are profound, and I think that allegorically, a lot of people in different versions of the film can speak to that. And for Lilly to come out and share that with us, I think is cool.“– -Keanu Reeves
So apparently Keanu Reeves had no idea what he was filming when he made The Matrix. That probably also means it wasn’t part of his performance or his performance in the upcoming The Matrix 4.
The revelation came in a recent episode of Netflix Film Club where Lilly said, “[The movie] was all about the desire for transformation, but it was all coming from a closeted point of view… I’m glad that it has gotten out that that was the original intention… The corporate world wasn’t ready for it.”
Lilly continues, expanding on the intentions of she and her sister Lana saying: “Me and Lana… we were existing in a space where the words didn’t exist…it’s why I gravitated to science fiction and fantasy…. I think in our trans-ness, and queer-ness, we were trying to incorporate as many things as possible.”
Now their movie is an inspiration for other trans people who Lilly says, “They come up to me and say ‘these movies saved my life…’ I’m grateful that I can be there, throwing them a rope to help them on their journey.”
The Matrix 5 And Other Sequels
Given how the original trilogy unfolded, one question looms large: Is The Matrix 4 a one-off or will there be sequels? Is this the jumping-off point for a new series of films or a stand-alone feature?
As mentioned earlier, there was talk of a new trilogy a few years back. But right now, only the one movie has the green light. That’s what we know for sure. However, we also know how Hollywood works. If The Matrix 4 is a huge success, you can bet the studio will try to figure out ways to squeeze more movies, and more money, out of the franchise.
With the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and other expansive franchises and shared movie worlds, it won’t be a surprise if we see more Matrix movies in the future.