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The Matrix Trilogy Explained: 7 Things To Remember Before Resurrections

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Reloaded
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For the first time in 18 years, The Matrix franchise is back on the silver screen with the latest chapter in the decades-long saga of Neo and the mystery surrounding his very presence. But, before driving over to your local movie theater or planting down on the couch to watch The Matrix Resurrections (one of the upcoming Keanu Reeves movies) streaming on HBO Max, there’s some key info you will probably want to brush up on from the previous three films in sci-fi action franchise.

And, since time is of the essence and you may not have time to watch all three of the Matrix movies in one long, spoon and mind-mending marathon, we have put together a rundown of seven things to remember about the franchise, its major players, and concepts. That being said, let’s go back to The Matrix.

Major spoilers from the original Matrix trilogy ahead...

The Matrix Is A Simulated Reality Created By The Machines To Use Humans As An Energy Source

Laurence Fishburne and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

As Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) explains in the franchise's first entry, the Matrix is a “neural-interactive simulation” first created by the machines after the humans scorched the sky in an attempt to cut off the machines’ primary energy source — the sun. At some point, the machines built the Matrix as a way in which to control the human population by keeping them trapped in a simulation, while also using them as an energy source.

Virtually anything and everything is possible in the Matrix, and Neo, Morpheus, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and other people who have been saved from its grasp, take advantage of the framework and limitless possibilities for a variety of different uses. But, just because the the users are living in a computer-generated world doesn’t mean there aren’t real-world consequences, because if you die in the simulation, you die in real life as well.

Helmut Bakaitis in The Matrix Reloaded

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Matrix Is In Its Sixth Iteration In The Original Trilogy

Throughout The Matrix, Neo is heralded as “The One,” the person who has been prophesied to end the war between humans and the machines and bring peace back to the world. Over time we learn that not only is Neo not the first so-called messiah to come and free humanity, this isn’t even the first version of the Matrix. In fact, as the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis), the computer program that constructed the network, tells Neo near the end of The Matrix Reloaded, he is currently in the sixth iteration of the simulation.

On top of that, Neo learns that “The One” in the previous five versions of the Matrix were given the opportunity to reboot the system and repopulate Zion, the last stronghold of humanity deep beneath the surface of the planet. But, unlike his predecessors, Neo decides to follow his heart and save Trinity, who is inches away from death instead of agreeing to the Architect's terms.

Hugo Weaving in The Matrix Revolutions

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Agent Smith Was Eliminated After Neo And The Machines Struck A Deal

Over the course of the first three Matrix movies, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and Neo ran into each other multiple times, killed one another (before coming back to life), and seemed to become stronger with each interaction. As Neo grew as a force of good, Smith became the embodiment of chaos, hell bent on breaking all the rules of the Matrix and assimilating anyone that got in his way, human and computer program alike, including the Oracle (Mary Alice) in The Matrix Revolutions.

Near the end of final film in the trilogy, Neo goes to the Machine City in order to broker a deal with the machines in that he would defeat Agent Smith once and for all if they would let Zion (and humanity) live in peace. After a long hard fight, Smith is vanquished and the machines follow through with their promise, just before Zion can be destroyed by the invading army.

Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Revolutions

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Neo And Trinity Both Died In The Matrix Revolutions

There have been a ton of questions about The Matrix Resurrections since the release of the first trailer, including a few about Trinity and Neo’s relationship. If you recall, the couple died in The Matrix Revolutions, with Trinity being mortally injured during a crash landing near the Machine City and Neo dying after his epic final showdown with Agent Smith. In the new trailers that have been released so far, both are alive and well, though they appear to have no memory of each other or their shared history in and out of the Matrix.

How the two were re-inserted into the Matrix will most certainly be examined in the upcoming fourth installment in the franchise. But, don’t forget Trinity and Neo both died before the original trilogy wrapped up.

Collin Chou and Tanveer K. Atwal in The Matrix Revolutions

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Matrix Was Rebooted Once More At The End Of The Matrix Revolutions

After Neo’s sacrifice and the peace brought on by the deal he made with the machines, the Matrix was rebooted, kicking off the seventh iteration of the complex simulation. At the end of The Matrix: Revolutions, all of the programs and humans assimilated by the rogue Agent Smith reverted back to their original states, including Sati (Tanveer K. Atwal), who will be played by Priyanka Chopra in upcoming fourth installment.

There seems to be a moment of peace both in the real world and the Matrix by the time the original trilogy wraps up, though it isn’t known how long that will last, especially with the foreboding comments made by the Architect before he walked off into the distance.

Mary Alice in The Matrix Revolutions

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Oracle Knew Neo Would Return At Some Point In The Future

In the final moments of The Matrix Revolutions, Sati asks the Oracle if she thinks they will ever see Neo again, to which the powerful figure responds by saying she suspects they will someday. Throughout the trilogy, the Oracle was one of the Matrix characters who always seemed to know what was going to happen before it happened (even when Agent Smith came to assimilate her in the final chapter). And, since we know Neo has returned someway and somehow in The Matrix Resurrected, the all-knowing computer program is right once again.

Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Morpheus As We Knew Him In The Trilogy Died In The Matrix Online Video Game

As you are probably aware of at this point, Laurence Fishburne will not be reprising his role of Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections, and the character (or at least a version of him) will instead be played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. There haven’t been a lot of answers as to why Morpheus looks so different this time around, so it should be noted that the character did, in fact, die earlier in the franchise’s canon. Don’t go digging through the movies looking for a scene you missed, as Morpheus didn’t die on the big screen, but instead in The Matrix Online video game back in 2005. 

According to Kotaku, the death of Morpheus at the hands of an assassin who could bend the code of the Matrix, was one of the biggest plot points of the MMORPG during its height. There is probably more to the story, but we’ll have to wait until the next chapter of the saga unfolds. 

All three of the Matrix movies are streaming on HBO Max, which will also be the temporary home for The Matrix Resurrections upon its release on December 22, 2021.

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.