When the teaser trailer for The Matrix Resurrections dropped earlier this month, it sent fan speculation into overdrive, especially fans who remember The Matrix Online. Originally billed as the official next chapter in the Matrix story by series creators Lana and Lilly Wachowski, this 2005 MMORPG shut down back in 2009. Because of this, the relatively small number of Matrix devotees who remembered the game assumed that Matrix Resurrections would render it non-canon – until they saw the teaser.
Not only does Matrix Resurrections teaser indicate that Matrix Online is still part of Matrix continuity, but it looks like Lana Wachowski and co-screenwriter David Mitchell have carried across key story elements from the game for the new movie. This wouldn’t be a first for the franchise, either; 2003 tie-in video game Enter the Matrix expanded on plot points in both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. So, if there was ever a blockbuster series willing to springboard the narrative of its hotly anticipated sequel off the events of an obscure video game, it’s this one.
How overtly Matrix Resurrections will reference Matrix Online remains open for debate – as does whether the alleged link between the two is real, or a case of fans tumbling down the wrong rabbit hole. But until we see proof otherwise, here’s a round-up of the five major connections between The Matrix Resurrections and The Matrix Online.
5. Neo’s final fate
Neo famously gave his life to defeat Smith at the end of Matrix Revolutions (although it’s heavily implied that his consciousness somehow survived). The last we see of our hero, the Machines are carrying away his lifeless body – and according to The Matrix Online, they never give it back!
Could this explain why Neo is appears to be alive and well in The Matrix Resurrections? Several blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-shots in the teaser show the Machines operating on Neo’s corpse post-Revolutions, which would explain why they refused to return it the 2005 game.
Have humanity’s former robot overlords found a way to extract Neo’s mind and insert it into a new body in yet another simulated reality? If they have, it certainly jibes with the continuity established in Matrix Online.
4. The death and return of Morpheus?
We all know that Morpheus survived the Matrix trilogy – so how come Laurence Fishburne isn’t coming back for The Matrix Resurrections? And why is much younger actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II playing the role instead? The Matrix Online might have the answers to both of these questions.
See, in the game, the Machines assassinate Morpheus after tensions over Neo’s unreturned remains boil over. Ironically, the whereabouts of Morpheus’ own real-world body is a mystery after his death, so it’s entirely possible someone – the Machines or Zion – could have used it to somehow extract Morpheus’ consciousness and insert into a similar (but younger) virtual body.
This wouldn’t be a first for the franchise – the Oracle changed appearance between Reloaded and Revolutions, after the Merovingian destroyed her original outer shell – and if Neo and Trinity have both seemingly come back to life, why not Morpheus, too?
3. The machinations of the Merovingian
Notoriously loquacious baddie The Merovingian doesn’t appear in the Matrix Resurrections trailer. That said, Lambert Wilson previously confirmed he was in talks to reprise the role and several sources now list him as a cast member, so it’s safe to assume that this causality-obsessed information trafficker will be back to plague our heroes once more.
This squares with The Matrix Online, where the Merovingian is at still large and up to no good in the Matrix. Aside from his implied involvement in the assassination of Morpheus, the Merovingian also maintains his vendetta against the Oracle from The Matrix Revolutions – a plot point that could carry over to The Matrix Resurrections, if the rumours about Priyanka Chopra’s role turn out to be true.
2. The end of the Zion/Machines truce
When the credits roll on The Matrix Revolutions, Zion and the Machines have agreed to an uneasy truce: the Machines will stop trying to destroy the humans, and the humans will stop trying to bring down the Matrix. So, how come everyone is fighting again in The Matrix Resurrections?
Well, if The Matrix Online is still canon, it’s simple: the fighting never really stopped. The entire premise of the game is that the conflict between Zion and the Machines essentially evolved into a cyberpunk cold war, with increasingly frequent flare ups of violence threatening the fragile peace between the two powers.
Could The Matrix Resurrections be where we see the Matrix Online’s hostilities finally escalate into all-out war? Don’t rule it out.
1. Game over for the Matrix?
Like I said in the intro, The Matrix Online went offline 12 years ago – and it was a suitably apocalyptic experience for the game’s 500 or so active users. All their player characters died, wiped out by terrifyingly over-powered enemies or freak acts of nature, and the game ejected them.
It’s a downer finale for the supposed next chapter in the Matrix story, so surely Wachowski and Mitchell will ignore it… or will they? After all, the virtual reality that Neo occupies in the Matrix Resurrections trailer looks markedly different to the Matrix seen in the earlier films, so maybe it’s not the same place.
Could the cataclysmic shutdown seen in Matrix Online have happened in-universe – and does this explain why the Machines have apparently replaced the Matrix with something else?