Movie Reviews

The Matrix 5 Can Finally Deliver On The Franchise's Ultimate Untold Prequel Story

Summary

  • The Matrix 5 could be a prequel, exploring the franchise’s untold origins and potentially revitalizing the series.
  • Drew Goddard’s direction offers a fresh take, possibly more exciting than a Wachowski-led sequel.
  • A prequel could avoid the confusion of Resurrections’ retcons, providing a blank slate for an exciting story.



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Warner Bros. plans for The Matrix 5 came as a surprise, following the financial disappointment of the previous installment, yet the upcoming sequel means that the franchise can finally explore a potentially game-changing prequel story. Despite being one of the most popular sci-fi franchises of all time, The Matrix has arguably never delivered on the promise of its original film. None of the movie’s sequels matched its critical or cultural impact, highlighting issues with the franchise’s overarching story. While each follow-up has underwhelmed in some capacity, one untold aspect of The Matrix‘s lore still has the potential to rejuvenate the series.


Although its story remains a mystery, The Matrix 5 is already a major departure for The Matrix franchise. Instead of being led by the Wachowski siblings, the movie will be directed by Drew Goddard – a talented veteran of successful projects like The Cabin in the Woods and the Daredevil reboot. This experience, coupled with a new creative vision for the saga, makes The Matrix 5 arguably more exciting than it would be if it were simply another Wachowski follow-up. However, beyond the behind-the-scenes changes, returning to The Matrix potentially allows the franchise to finally realize one of its most exciting unseen stories.

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The Matrix 5 Can Be A Prequel About The First One

It would explore some unseen aspects of the story

Keanu Reeves as Neo from The Matrix holding a phone up to his ear


Given the tentative Matrix 5 title, many people expect that the new movie will continue the story established across the first four Matrix films. Considering that The Matrix Resurrections ended on something of a cliffhanger, it also makes narrative sense that the film would follow Neo and Trinity in their new roles. However, while this approach is certainly a possibility, another (potentially more exciting) option is that the story goes in a completely different direction, taking audiences back into the past and exploring what happened when the Matrix itself was first created.

The Matrix’s origins are one of the most fascinating aspects of the entire franchise. From Morpheus’ vivid descriptions of the Machine war to the Architect’s revelations that Neo is not the first “One“, it’s clear that the simulation’s history extends far beyond what’s seen in the Wachowski siblings’ movies. Thanks to their involvement in the much-loved original, Neo and Trinity have understandably been the focus of the previous Matrix movies. However, these tantalizing teases hint at potential stories that can be just as ground-breaking, while also offering a fresh start for a franchise that has been flagging.


While Neo’s journey ultimately ends in triumph and a tentative truce between humanity and the Machines, a Matrix prequel set when the first One is forced to select seven male and 16 female fellow humans to re-establish Zion could provide a completely different take on the saga. Seeing someone just as powerful as Neo forced to grapple with such a terrible choice would not only make his actions seem more heroic in retrospect, but would give the entire franchise a dark edge that has been missing since 1999. It might be a radical move, but it might be the best way for The Matrix to finally move beyond the legacy of the original.

A Matrix Prequel Would Avoid Resurrections’ Confusing Story

It can avoid dealing with some major retcons


Beyond how making a Matrix prequel can bring to life some interesting and unexplored aspects of the franchise, such a project would also avoid some of the biggest problems with the franchise, post-Resurrections. While many aspects of The Matrix Resurrections‘ story were controversial, one thing that can’t be denied is the extent to which it changed the game for the entire saga. Not only did it redress Neo and Trinity’s relationship – essentially putting them on equal footing in terms of power – but it also uprooted many other established aspects of franchise lore.

Ways in which The Matrix Resurrections changed the original trilogy include altering the nature of programs like Smith and the new Morpheus, establishing a conflict within the Machine hierarchy that led to civil war, and obliterating Zion itself – despite its supposed salvation in The Matrix Revolutions. These retcons, and many more like them, fundamentally alter the nature of the franchise. While certainly pushing the story forwards, the contradictions that they represent also create huge problems for any sequel and an uncertainty over whether to commit to the new approach or try to retroactively continue along the path set by the original films.


The details provided by the Architect and Morpheus provide a clear template for the story to follow while also making it sound incredibly exciting

By contrast, making a prequel would completely avoid these problems. Instead of having to worry about what Neo and Trinity’s new role means for the Matrix’s future, or the questions it raises about events in the earlier films, delving back into the series’ past provides a complete blank slate. The details provided by the Architect and Morpheus provide a clear template for the story to follow while also making it sound incredibly exciting. Given how one of The Matrix‘s major problems has been its propensity to become bogged down in lore, a prequel would potentially streamline an otherwise bloated story.

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A Matrix Prequel Is The Best Way To Reboot The Franchise After Resurrections

A reset is exactly what’s needed

Baby in pod in The Matrix

Making a prequel can certainly help provide a fresh perspective on a Matrix story that has become simultaneously stale and difficult to follow. Beyond this, however, is the inescapable truth that the franchise wouldn’t just benefit from a fresh approach – it desperately needs a total reboot. Part of the reason The Matrix 5 is a surprising project is that Resurrections was an unequivocal box office failure. Despite receiving mixed reviews (and some praise for its risky story), the movie bombed financially, making just $159.2 million against an estimated $190 million budget – the lowest in the franchise.

Audiences have already demonstrated that they have little interest in seeing the next chapter in Neo and Trinity’s story


After such a disappointing return, the only way to justify returning to the franchise is with a completely new story and perspective. Audiences have already demonstrated that they have little interest in seeing the next chapter in Neo and Trinity’s story – however transformative The Matrix Ressurections‘ ending might be. In this context, it makes perfect sense for The Matrix 5 to move away from the franchise’s old characters and stories, with a prequel providing the perfect opportunity.

The First One’s Story Can Make The Original Matrix Trilogy Better

The Matrix Reloaded Neo Architect


Seeing for the first time how humans coped within the confines of the first Matrix has the potential to be a thrilling way to reestablish interest in the franchise. However, beyond being a compelling story on its own terms, exploring the origins of the Matrix can also enhance the original Matrix trilogy’s story. By revealing more about the first One, a prequel could establish interesting parallels with Neo’s own choices and personality. The knowledge of what’s to come in the story can also give the prequel a tragic edge, while simultaneously allowing the movie to lay the foundations for future storylines.

Making a prequel that explores how a powerful hero can ultimately fail in his mission to fight an oppressive regime before future generations succeed is fertile territory for sci-fi. While their execution was flawed, the Star Wars prequels are a prime example of how exploring earlier character arcs can help inform the events of original movies. In The Matrix‘s case, a prequel could fully explore the foundation and structure of Zion – something frustratingly absent from the original trilogy. While a prequel would present its own problems, it is also a genuinely exciting way for The Matrix 5 to move forward.


The Matrix 5-1

The Matrix 5

Director
Drew Goddard

Distributor(s)
Warner Bros. Pictures

Main Genre
Sci-Fi

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