Wait, Was The Matrix Resurrections Going To Happen Even Without Lana Wachowski?

Jonathan Groff in The Matrix Resurrections
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

There’s no way in the world that The Matrix Trilogy would have happened without the ingenuity of The Wachowskis, as only Lana and Lilly could have created that lightning in a bottle phenomenon. The same could be said to a certain extent for the latest entry, The Matrix Resurrections, as the film we got could have only come from the pen of someone so deeply connected to the series. But was that forth movie ever going to happen without Lana Wachowski? Well, yes and no. 

James McTeigue, long time collaborator to The Wachowskis and producer of The Matrix Resurrections, spoke with Collider and discussed that very implication. Knowing all the rumors that surrounded the project before it was officially announced as going forward, with Lana Wachowski and Keanu Reeves back for more, it’s no surprise this notion was floated. Speaking towards the point of why Warner Bros would want to move forward regardless of Lana's involvement, McTeigue laid it out pretty simply: 

Look. I think when you've had a franchise with that much potential money making capability, there's always talk. It's in the same way that the Marvel universe repeats and turns in on itself, or you have Spider-Man, or you have Iron Man, or Thor. There's always a potential to update those movies just because of the possibility of making the money and telling new stories. I shouldn't say it's just a purely fiscal thought.

While The Matrix canon isn’t as deep or storied as the decades of comic books that Marvel and DC mine on a regular basis, there’s always been room for more stories. Seeds were sewn in projects like The Animatrix and Enter The Matrix that seemed to come to fruition in The Matrix Resurrections. Anyone with knowledge of those stories, and The Matrix Trilogy itself, could have put together their own version of a continuation. 

For some reason, those projects never materialized, and it’s not for lack of trying. Apparently, there was a big stumbling block at Warner Bros. when it came to any other version of The Matrix’s potential continuation. Not to mention, that only happened after repeated attempts to bring The Wachowskis back resulted in rejection after rejection. James McTeigue explained the situation further, as well as what he feels is the reasoning for the failure to launch on those non-Wachowski attempts:

There were versions out there, but they hadn't landed on the right version. So when Lana eventually came back around and said, ‘Look. I'm interested in making another movie,’ of course, they went with the filmmaker who was the genesis of the Matrix.

Recent comments have seen Warner Bros. execs remaining fiercely loyal to Lana Wachowski and her vision for any project she wants to tackle. Some may have seen those as typical studio lines, especially when after running through less than ideal box office prospects like Cloud Atlas or Jupiter Ascending, Lana finally decided to make what seemed like an automatic win. After reading Mr. McTeigue’s comment above, that loyalty sounds as strong as ever. 

To date, the one major attempt we know was absolutely in the works was the “new Matrix movie” that Ready Player One and Free Guy co-writer Zak Penn was tapped to draft. That was the first time a fourth adventure was really considered as being in the cards; though now it sounds like there were multiple versions at play. Whether or not they were all from Penn’s hand, we don’t know, but James McTeigue seems to suggest that several passes were taken, all with the same result: 

Yeah. That was real. There were versions out there. But I guess the fates dictated that Lana's story came at the right time, and Warner Brothers were willing to move forward with that story.

Whether the results of The Matrix Resurrections’ release to the public is satisfactory to Warner Bros. is a different story entirely. Much like those other potential drafts for a fourth film, the interpretation of this film’s “success” is something that will be a subject of discussion for some time. At the very least, it can be said that when trying to bring this legendary sci-fi touchstone into a new era, both studio and creator were willing to take a chance on something dramatically different from what we’d previously seen. 

In order to really grasp just how different The Matrix Resurrections is from its predecessors, you can catch the latest Keanu Reeves film in theaters, as well as on HBO Max until January 21, 2022. Though don’t forget to catch up on the previous three films, and The Animatrix, thanks to that very same library’s generous holdings. Finally, if you’re looking to see what’s beyond the horizon in terms of moviegoing, check out our 2022 release schedule to see what’s in store for the next year’s theatrical experiences. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.