Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus was long written out of the Matrix, Zack Zwiezen of Kotaku alleges. The character responsible for grooming Neo into battle-ready perfection was murdered in The Matrix Online, an MMORPG all the way back in 2005 which boasted a post-The Matrix Revolutions world where reality and fantasy encroach, resulting in an existential clutter not even Neo’s passing could fix. Despite living in an improved version of Mega City where redpill deaths no longer equated to death in the real world, Fishburne’s Morpheus perished from an Assassin’s bullet containing a kill code with his “residual self-image data” attached. This Morpheus ultimately failed to respawn.
The claim comes barely a month before the trailer for The Matrix Resurrections went live, and in some roundabout way it makes sense. How could Matrix 4 feature an aged Neo and Trinity in Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, but not a Morpheus in his prime? The only explanation is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s Morpheus is either a different individual using Laurence Fishburne’s residual data as cover, or the very same Morpheus — just retrieved from erasure and inexplicably recovered thanks to technology of the time, hence the title of the film. The form redpills assume in the Matrix are essentially self-actualized computer software and if an operating system can be restored to its last working state, then so can Morpheus. In this case, one of his only functional restore points must be a younger Morpheus predating even Trinity. No such caveats were mentioned in The Matrix Online, however.
Though the game had Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s blessing, it’s unclear if the events of The Matrix Online are considered main movie canon, or simply one giant what-if. Then again, MxO (as it was popularly known) introduced plenty of new features that were absent in the original trilogy, many of which have since overturned what we thought we knew for sure about the Matrix. New factions have broken off from the Zion, Machines, and Merovingian as a direct consequence of Neo’s death and redpills can now respawn indefinitely when killed inside the Matrix. The trailer for The Matrix Resurrections released today wasn’t entirely coy about the details of the plot, as many of The Matrix Online overhauls seem to have made it to the sequel. Check it out below:
For one, it’s obvious from the get-go Neo had respawned in Mega City in the decades since his “death” in The Matrix Revolutions. The Matrix now reflects technological shockwaves that have transpired in our world: things like expansive mental health options, updated clothes and aesthetics, and commuters unmistakably staring at their tablets and smartphones. Changes Neo doesn’t seem to recognize, despite having aged in the Matrix as a bluepill. Aside from Morpheus in The Matrix Online, Trinity is another character to have given her life in service of her cause all the way back in The Matrix Revolutions, and yet she is back on the frontlines as a bluepill, with zero inkling of the events that had taken place.
It seems as if redpills lose all memory of the Matrix when they respawn and become bluepills, which might explain the altered conditions. The young Morpheus appears in the trailer fully self-aware, which suggests a sufficient amount of time has already passed since his murder in The Matrix Online. After all, despite being a redpill, Abdul-Mateen’s version doesn’t seem to remember Neo either. Everything feels like déjà vu — a hazy memory of a past life.
The Matrix Resurrections, which seems to pick up where The Matrix Online left off, stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson, Daniel Bernhardt, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Geoff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Christina Ricci, Telma Hopkins, Toby Onwumere, Max Riemelt, Brian J. Smith, Eréndira Ibarra, Andrew Caldwell, and Ellen Hollman. Director Lana Wachowski wrote the screenplay with novelist David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) and essayist Aleksandar Hemon (The Lazarus Project). It comes out on December 22.