Other than Morpheus – who will be played by actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – could more characters from the original trilogy be recast in The Matrix Resurrections? Even after the first trailer for the fourth Matrix movie, the cast has provoked more questions than it has provided answers. Not only are Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss both back, even though both Neo and Trinity died at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, but it’s unclear who newcomers Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris are playing. And weirder still, characters who were still alive at the end of the previous film, most notably Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus, are suspiciously absent from the modern lineup and trailer.
Even before the confirmation of Abdul-Mateen stepping in as the new, younger Morpheus, he had long been the subject of rumor, which was never quite diffused enough to throw fans off the scent. Even before the new film was officially announced, there were reports that Warner Bros. were looking at a new Matrix movie centered around a younger Morpheus, with Michael B Jordan initially in the crosshairs. The Matrix 4‘s distinct lack of Fishburne only added fuel to that fire and the trailer all but confirmed that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is indeed Mr Anderson’s incredibly cool eye-opener.
While it’s possible that Morpheus is a special case in The Matrix 4, recasting the character does open the door for other legacy figures to appear in 2022 under the guise of completely different actors. Here’s the why, how, and who behind more potential recastings in The Matrix Resurrections.
Why Morpheus May Not Be The Only Recast Character
The question of the young Morpheus in The Matrix 4 hinges on one of the film’s still-enduring mysteries – the setting. What kind of story and scenario has led to Neo and Trinity both looking how fans remember them (plus an extra 15 years or so) but Morpheus appearing more youthful than ever before? There is of course the possibility that time travel is involved, but the trailer seems to suggest that cannot be the whole answer, because Neo and Trinity are not aware of their pasts despite having aged. Then again, it could turn out that they were brought back to the Matrix and had their memories removed for a reason – after all, Neo does appear to partly remember Trinity. Could it be that they’re shorn of their memories of the long-crumbled eras of Zion in order to not be distracted by their shared past? That would at least explain how Morpheus appears younger than the original trilogy.
While undoubtedly the easiest option, time travel isn’t necessary to introduce recast characters in The Matrix 4. As the trailer seems to suggest, Lana Wachowski’s upcoming revival could take place within the rebooted Matrix world, following on from the end of the original trilogy in which Neo’s death hit the big red reset button. With previous Matrix builds, this process would kill all but a small handful of humans, but Neo would somehow manage to avoid that eventuality. Since Neo broke the cycle, the world that comes next can, in theory, be whatever Wachowski chooses and since the Matrix lives in a perpetual pattern that always returns to the same point, it would make sense that other elements would also be repeated. Perhaps the Machines‘ solution to the non-fatal reboot is the populate the simulated reality with avatars younger than their real-world counterparts? This would mean Neo and Trinity predominantly interact with a younger Morpheus for the bulk of The Matrix Resurrections, before finally meeting the original Laurence Fishburne after reaching Zion, thereby giving the actor a small cameo. Of course, anyone else who was alive at the end of The Matrix Revolutions would be given the same treatment.
Which Other Matrix Characters Could Be Recast?
Aside from Morpheus, who else could plausibly be recast in The Matrix Resurrections? The most likely candidates would be those who populated Zion in the original trilogy. If the theory that Neo and Trinity have actually time travelled back into an earlier version of the Matrix, then they could come face-to-face with Cypher in what would be a fascinating sub-plot. Joe Pantoliano’s character infamously turned villain in 1999’s The Matrix, and crossing paths with a younger Cypher would present the classic time travel dilemma of being unable to kill a future enemy because it’ll mess with the flow of time. Along with Cypher, the likes of Tank, Switch and Dozer could also appear in the past, all played by different actors.
If The Matrix 4 does indeed take place in the rebooted setting, rather than delving down the rabbit hole of time travel, then different possibilities arise. In this scenario, the likes of Cypher and Switch couldn’t return, since they already died and probably aren’t deemed important enough to be brought back alongside Neo and Trinity. Instead, young Morpheus could be joined by Jason Lock (the Zion leader played by Harry Lennix) in his pre-commander days.
Recasts won’t necessarily be exclusive to human characters. The likes of The Oracle and Agent Smith can physically appear however they choose in the world of The Matrix. The Oracle already changed actresses once due to the sad death of Gloria Foster, with the role passing to Mary Alice for The Matrix Revolutions. Given her omnipotent nature as a program inside the Matrix, it would be more surprising if a recast Oracle didn’t appear in The Matrix 4. Furthermore, original Agent Smith actor, Hugo Weaving, has revealed that he was approached for the new Matrix film, only to turn the offer down. This confirms that Agent Smith is, or at least was, a feature of Wachowski’s new story, but with Weaving not willing or able to reprise his role as the digital villain, the character will need to be recast. Like The Oracle, Smith is a figure whose physical appearance is open to some flexibility.
Some Matrix characters could be recast for the fourth movie, but made older instead of younger. Clayton Watson played Kid in the original Matrix trilogy and was firmly established as the future of Zion, as well as a loyal disciple of The One. If future Zion does come under threat, Kid is most likely to be advocating the revival of Neo as a solution, and could be a wizened old man by the time of The Matrix 4. Another character set up as the “future” in the original Matrix trilogy was Sati, and the end of The Matrix Revolutions even implied the child was responsible for building the rebooted digital world. Being a Matrix program, Sati doesn’t necessarily age, but since the original young actress is now a fully-grown adult, the character would still require recasting. Priyanka Chopra will feature in The Matrix Resurrection, and is around the right age to play a future Sati.
Why Young Morpheus Could Be A One-Off
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Morpheus could be joined by other recast characters in The Matrix Ressurections, but it’s also possible the change of actor would be a one-off. The Matrix 4‘s motivation for recasting Morpheus is one of the film’s biggest mysteries at present, but an answer can perhaps be found in The Matrix Online, a 2005 MMORPG that was released as a canon continuation of the movie trilogy. Most franchises would undoubtedly ignore the game entirely, but a few nagging parallels suggest The Matrix Online won’t be entirely retconned after all. Firstly, the game’s storyline sowed the seeds for both Neo and Trinity to return from the dead, something that will be key to The Matrix Resurrections. The video game also features The Merovingian as a major villain and, conveniently enough, Lambert Wilson’s character from The Matrix Reloaded is also back for the fourth chapter. Another key plot point in The Matrix Online was the death of Morpheus, and this could be the very reason the character is being recast in the first place.
Assuming The Matrix 4 is taking The Matrix Online into account, the reborn Neo and Trinity would surely be horrified to learn of Morpheus’ death, especially since he went out trying desperately to retrieve the body of Neo. The Matrix Resurrections trailer makes the idea of Morpheus dying and being revived feel unlikely, but there’s every chance there’s some misdirection involved. Neo could be sent back to the older version of the Matrix to retrieve Morpheus, and could be forced not to mention their shared past in order to avoid Morpheus discovering his future death. After all, the Matrix lore has already established the idea of prophecies and fate being secret in order to make sure they aren’t interfered with. That would at least explain why Neo appears to be Morpheus’ student again.
- The Matrix Resurrections (2021)Release date: Dec 22, 2021
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