It seems like the half-life on Hollywood franchises continues to shrink with each passing year. Successful films that would’ve once been deemed too modern to revisit can no longer escape the all-seeing eye of Sauron that is the Reboot Maw™. The latest casualty? The Matrix. In what can only be considered a bombshell announcement, unnamed sources told The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros. is working towards new entries into The Matrix. The article is even entitled “’The Matrix’ Reboot in the Works at Warner Bros. (Exclusive).” But is it? Being rebooted, that is.
Maybe not. The sources say Warner Bros. is in the “early stages of developing a relaunch of The Matrix,” but a relaunch is not the same thing as a reboot. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the relaunch of the franchise, but the film takes place within the same continuity George Lucas created. Marvel relaunching themselves as a movie studio with Iron Man didn’t erase (some of) the adventures of The Hulk. And if any film is practically begging for a cinematic universe, it’s the Wachowski sisters’ iconic trilogy.
The stage has already been set. In 2003, the Wachowski’s teamed up with other writers and directors to create nine short animated films which were then compiled into The Animatrix. Stories ranged from people discovering glitches in the system to the origin of how the world was destroyed to one of the Sentinels successfully becoming self-aware and taking on characteristics such as compassion and empathy for humanity. Neo (Keanu Reeves) might have been Red Pill Jesus #34890, but his story isn’t the only one in the world.
As of this writing, Michael B. Jordan is being floated as a potential lead for whatever form the new Matrix takes, but casting is fluid, especially in the early stages. The Wachowski sisters are not attached to the relaunch, but that could change as well. THR posits Warner Bros. could explore the world of The Matrix via something like a Morpheus origin story. But why look back, when the studio could look forward?
Cast Jordan as a hacker living in a post-Matrix time. Or take a page from the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have multiple people who could be “The One” wake up simultaneously. In The Matrix, everyone inside the digital world inhabits the Mega City, but what’s to say it’s the only one of its kind? The Earth is a big place and the machines a legion. Surely there would be a need for multiple megaplexes designed to harvest human energy. Tell the story of a pocket of humanity that has survived on the surface for generations with no knowledge of the subterranean masses being used as batteries. Or the story of a sect of people that work with the robots to capture the remaining free humans and plug them in. Perhaps even the story of the empathic Sentinel doing its part, working towards a future where organic and mechanical lifeforms live side-by-side. The possibilities are endless.
But whatever Warner Bros. does, don’t just tell the same story audiences saw in 1999 only with updated technology. We don’t need to see hackers making the jump through cell phones or using tablets instead of IBM desktops. The world of The Matrix could be as deep and rich as any other cinematic universe. You just have to believe.