It appears writer Thomas Althouse took the red pill this week, or rather was force-fed a red pill and told to go on about his day. Last year, Althouse took Warner Bros., Andy and Lana Wachowski, and Joel Silver to court, alleging the filmmaking siblings ripped off his unproduced screenplay The Immortals with The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. A California federal court ruled the properties were dissimilar and spooned Althouse’s lawsuit right out of the door. (There is no spoon.)
Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled “the basic premises of The Matrix trilogy and The Immortals are so different that it would be unreasonable to find their plots substantially similar.” This is where I’d make a joke about how Althouse’s script was about a youth league football team who needs to win the big game, but the actual plot is even more vastly different.
The Immortals, which Althouse submitted to Warner Bros. back in 1993, centered on a CIA agent in the year 2235 who is immortal thanks to some drug. The conflict comes when the cryogenically-preserved bodies of Adolf Hitler and a bunch of Nazis are all reanimated, and the spy has to stop them from killing all of the “short-lifers” in the world. (Even though he’s just one guy and they’re a bunch of immortal Nazis.)
But it wasn’t just plot similarities up for discussion; the themes of both projects were also held up to scrutiny. Althouse claimed that The Matrix films’ use of Neo as a Christ-like figure was the same as his lead character, which obviously no movie has ever done before. Judge Klausner also saw right through that assertion.
“Allusions to Christianity in literature date back hundreds of years and are not generally protectable,” Klausner said. “Looking at the details of the works, the two works express these themes very differently. The Christian allusions in The Immortals concludes with the literal Second Coming of Christ, whereas The Matrix Trilogy concludes with a metaphorical reference to Christ, as Neo sacrifices himself to save others.” I wonder if Althouse and his law team want to take on Son of God next.
I always wonder how hard the lawyers try to push Hollywood infringement lawsuits like this, since so few of them ever work out for the plaintiff. (I’m waiting for someone who wrote a story called Abattoir to sue James Cameron because Avatar sort of rhymes with it.) Althouse only got the idea for the lawsuit in 2010 after watching both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions years after their release. Nobody in their right mind should have taken that case.
Just like nobody in their right mind should remake this trilogy. Spend a few minutes watching Jesus, er, Neo fight Nazis, er, non-Nazis in the clip below.