Visionary filmmakers Lana and Lilly Wachowski broke out into Hollywood with their 1999 sci-fi action film, The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves as Neo, a man who learns that humankind is imprisoned by sentient machines in a simulated reality called the Matrix. The original film was beloved by critics and fans alike, lauded for its groundbreaking action sequences and complex sci-fi world – not to mention it was a box office success, earning $460 million on a $63 million budget. The Matrix was followed by two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, which were less well received than the original and wrapped up the trilogy in 2003.
This week, it was reported Warner Bros is developing a reboot of The Matrix, with Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Creed) eyed to star. Since then, the new film’s writer, Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers) claimed the Matrix “reboot” isn’t a reboot at all, explaining, “no one could or should REBOOT the Matrix.” He went on to express interest in more stories within the Matrix world that aren’t remakes or reboots, and a new rumor may indicate that’s exactly what Warner Bros is exploring.
Birth Movies Death is reporting one Matrix franchise idea “that’s gained a lot of support” from Warner Bros is a prequel following the character of Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne in the original trilogy. According to their sources, the young Morpheus role is the part for which Jordan is being eyed. The report additionally confirms Warner Bros has plans of establishing a Matrix franchise writers room – which likely indicates the studio wants to launch a shared cinematic universe similar to Paramount’s Transformers series – and the Morpheus film is one of many ideas being explored.
In The Matrix trilogy, Morpheus was a mentor of sorts to Neo and an operative working against the machines in Zion. Before discovering Reeves’ character, Morpheus spent his life devoted to searching for The One from the Oracle’s prophecy that would free humankind from the machines and, as a result, the Matrix. If Warner Bros does end up developing the Morpheus prequel film, it could potentially follow this period in the character’s life – or his own discovery of the existence of the Matrix.
Of course, given the decidedly mixed response to word of a Matrix reboot, it remains to be seen whether the potential for a young Morpheus movie – or other films exploring the expanded universe of the Wachowskis’ sci-fi world – will be better received by fans. Plus, a prequel following a character as well liked as Morpheus is a smart move – one we’ve seen in both Paramount’s Bumblebee spinoff as well as Disney/Lucasfilm’s Han Solo project. Certainly, new stories that don’t retread the Wachowskis’ original films have a better chance of balancing The Matrix’s goodwill among fans with fresh ideas as a way of continuing the franchise.