Here are the most convincing theories for how and why each main character returns in The Matrix Resurrections. The Wachowski sisters’ Matrix trilogy seemingly concluded in 2003, with Neo sacrificing himself to end the war between Earth’s last remaining humans and a race of machines who view their mortal creators as a convenient power source. The Matrix Revolutions promised a brighter future ahead, with everyone plugged into the Matrix simulation offered a route back to reality. Almost 20 years later, The Matrix Resurrections is set to trigger a whole new existential crisis in 2021.
While the plot remains under lock and key for now, several big names are confirmed to reprise their iconic roles in The Matrix Resurrections. Keanu Reeves will once again play lead protagonist Neo, and Carrie-Anne Moss portrays his fellow freedom fighter and lover, Trinity. Furthermore, a younger version of Morpheus and a new Agent Smith are rumored to have roles in the Matrix revival, alongside a host of supporting figures from across the past three films. In a troublesome twist, however, not all of these characters were still alive when the original trilogy ended. Neo sacrificed himself, Trinity died in a crash, and Smith was defeated.
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Fortunately, death is little more than a blip in a franchise where bullets stop in midair and eating cake is a sexual experience. There are many wild and crazy ways Neo and his friends could return in The Matrix Resurrections, and a host of reasons why their services might be required.
With Neo the undisputed hero of the Matrix franchise, it’s no surprise The One returns for The Matrix Resurrections, but precisely how Neo makes his highly-anticipated comeback remains a source of intense speculation. Some of the more outlandish theories suggest Reeves is playing a completely new One, or that time travel will summon Neo from the past. A more plausible solution suggests Neo’s RSI (residual self-image – the avatar projected inside the Matrix) was saved within the simulation, meaning Neo can be revived in digital form, while his real body remains deceased.
The Oracle believed Neo would one day reappear when his heroics were needed again, and it seems plausible that bits of Keanu Reeves-shaped data are still floating around the Matrix. This would allow Neo to feature in The Matrix Resurrections without negating the impact of his sacrifice. Footage from The Matrix Resurrections’ trailer supports this idea, as Neo is predominantly glimpsed inside the simulation, with hardly any shots of the real world.
Neo is almost certainly being revived to deal with The Matrix Resurrections’ antagonist – whoever that might be. The bigger question is whether Neo will be called upon to aid humans, or fight humans. Given The Matrix’s tendency to play with convention, the new film’s villain could be of fleshy composition, forcing the Machines to request Neo’s help. This theory also fits The Matrix Resurrections’ trailer, which very briefly shows Machines working on Neo’s dead body.
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Neo and Trinity both die in the same The Matrix Revolutions sequence and are now both returning in the same movie, so however Neo manages to resurface, that method will likely apply to Trinity also. Neo and Trinity coming back simultaneously could play into a storyline from the canon Matrix Online video game, in which Morpheus accused the Machines of stealing Neo and Trinity’s remains for some unknown purpose. The Matrix Resurrections has no obligation to follow that route, but the aforementioned trailer shot of Machines reviving Neo represents a step in The Matrix Online’s direction, and in another scene, Carrie-Anne Moss is “sweating” Matrix code, further pointing toward Trinity being digitally reconstructed.
She might kick ass and look damn cool while doing it but, with all due respect to the character, Trinity doesn’t bring any reality-bending superpowers to the table. Perhaps, therefore, Neo’s new mission is something he and Trinity must tackle together. In The Matrix Resurrections’ trailer, the pair join hands to generate a powerful bright light, which could explain why both heroes are brought back. Whoever resurrects Neo may also be wise enough to realize it was his love for Trinity that ultimately prevented Zion’s destruction, and bringing one back without the other is futile. On the other hand, Yahya Abdul-Mateen’s character tells Neo, “the only thing that matters to you is still here.” This line implies Trinity never actually left the Matrix.
While Trinity’s return may be a mystery in narrative terms, the real-world motivation for bringing in Carrie-Anne Moss is easier to decipher. Trinity’s death in The Matrix Revolutions is easily one of the worst moments in the entire franchise, and the character deserves a more fitting send-off.
It’s curious that while Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss were announced for The Matrix Resurrections in advance, there’s no sign of Laurence Fishburne – especially strange as Morpheus is the only main character still alive as the Matrix trilogy ends. While Fishburne’s Morpheus apparently has no role to play in The Matrix Resurrections, rumors persist that the Zion leader will still feature in some capacity, with some theorizing a younger version of the character will team-up with Reeves and Moss. The Matrix Resurrections’ trailer adds fuel to the fire, with Yahya Abdul-Mateen looking and acting exactly like Morpheus once did.
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The appearance of a more youthful Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrection could mean time travel is afoot. Either Neo and Trinity drop into the Matrix’s past (like rolling back a computer to a time before it stopped working), or the Machines boot-up an earlier version of the character from their own archives (like restoring Morpheus’ file from the Matrix’s recycle bin). Trailer footage offers no clues as to why Morpheus looks completely different, and though time travel is still on the table, it’s plausible that Abdul-Mateen could be playing an alternate iteration of Neo’s mentor.
Hugo Weaving has ruled out reprising his famous Agent Smith role in The Matrix Resurrections, but the actor also confirmed that Lana Wachowski made him an offer, suggesting Smith will feature in the new chapter, albeit with a brand new face – hardly problematic for a glorified piece of software.
The all-encompassing Agent Smith was defeated after making his way through the Matrix and gobbling up other programs to enhance his own power. Through Neo, the Machines killed Smith using the Source, and the programs he devoured were seemingly released. Nevertheless, Smith is among the easier Matrix characters to reinvent. The Machines could simply build another Agent Smith and install him with the memories and characteristics of his predecessor. So great were Agent Smith’s powers by the end of The Matrix Revolutions, it wouldn’t be surprising if the villain found his own way back to the party, especially after assimilating The One shortly before his destruction.
Though there’s no sign of Smith in The Matrix Resurrections’ trailer, other Agents are seen patrolling the Machines’ simulation, which could mean Smith is leading them once again. Many fans suspect Jonathan Groff’s mystery character is actually a reincarnated Smith, and several trailer clues support this point of view. Groff’s interactions with Neo land eerily close to Agent Smith’s interrogation of Morpheus from the original trilogy, and there’s an out-of-focus shot where Groff holds Neo at gunpoint, possibly referencing Smith shooting Keanu Reeves’ character back in the day.
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Reports suggest Jada Pinkett-Smith will once again play Niobe in The Matrix Resurrections, having originally made her franchise debut in The Matrix Reloaded. Niobe’s return probably won’t involve any death-defying conspiracy or confounding time-travel, but might provide an indication of when The Matrix Resurrections is set. Niobe is one of few main characters still alive when the original trilogy ends, and if Pinkett-Smith is playing the same character, at least some new scenes must take place in the 10-25 years following the Machine War’s end.
Agent Smith strongly implies that Lambert Wilson’s Merovingian was one of the many programs absorbed as part of his Matrix World Assimilation Tour. But then so was The Oracle, and she’s restored by the trilogy’s end, meaning it’s safe to assume the Merovingian is freed once more in The Matrix Resurrections. With his underworld connections and ties to previous versions of the Matrix, Neo and Trinity may find themselves in need of The Merovingian’s expertise. Wilson’s slimey character possesses knowledge that harks back to past Matrix builds and boasts an entire settlement of exile programs under his control, The Merovingian could prove vital in unlocking the secrets of time travel, or understanding a mystery buried in the ancient past. Theoretically, the Merovingian stands to gain a lot in The Matrix Resurrections. With humans now allowed to leave the simulation, many programs will be rendered obsolete, swelling the Merovingian’s ranks of exiles considerably.
When people said The Smiths should get back together, this wasn’t what they meant… One of the lesser-known names from The Matrix Reloaded, Daniel Bernhardt is confirmed to reprise his Agent Johnson in The Matrix Resurrections. Replacing Smith after the original villain went into business for himself, the return of this generic, directive-obsessed Agent proves the Machines need some kind of enforcement, despite agreeing to the peace deal with Neo. While he appeared to die via electrocution during a battle with Niobe and Ghost, the Machines could’ve easily programmed Johnson 2.0 over the years.
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The Matrix Resurrections (2021)Release date: Dec 22, 2021
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Craig first began contributing to Screen Rant in 2016, several years after graduating college, and has been ranting ever since, mostly to himself in a darkened room. Having previously written for various sports and music outlets, Craig’s interest soon turned to TV and film, where a steady upbringing of science fiction and comic books finally came into its own.
Craig has previously been published on sites such as Den of Geek, and after many coffee-drenched hours hunched over a laptop, part-time evening work eventually turned into a full-time career covering everything from the zombie apocalypse to the Starship Enterprise via the TARDIS.
Since joining the Screen Rant fold, Craig has been involved in breaking news stories and mildly controversial ranking lists, but now works predominantly as a features writer.
Jim Carrey is Craig’s top acting pick and favorite topics include superheroes, anime and the unrecognized genius of the High School Musical trilogy.
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