No franchise ever really dies in Hollywood, but Neo and Trinity definitely did in The Matrix Revolutions. And yet, their deaths won’t stop Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss from returning to their iconic roles in the newly announced Matrix 4. This unexpected sequel might seem like a strange development, but maybe we should have seen it coming. The end of The Matrix Revolutions set up another chapter in the story; it established a way for the same Neo and Trinity we knew to return.
The war between humans and machines ended shortly after Trinity died in a crash. Neo sacrificed himself to stop the spread of Agent Smith, which the Matrix could no longer control. All Neo wanted in exchange for saving the machine world was peace between the machines and humans. They agreed to his terms and sent him into the Matrix. There he allowed himself to be absorbed by Smith’s program. Neo destroyed it from within, and in the process both he and Agent Smith died. The last we saw of Neo the machines respectfully carried away his crucifixion-posed corpse. It was like a viking funeral crossed with a Christian mass.
But the final moments of the film took place inside the Matrix itself. The sun rose on the dark and rainy dystopian world Smith had created, returning the Matrix to its late 20th century aesthetic. Sitting on a bench, watching the dawn of a new age, was the Oracle. The “mother” of the Matrix was also freed from Smith by Neo’s sacrifice. She was approached by the Matrix’s “father,” her opponent in liberating humans, the Architect. He assured her he would abide by the deal he made with Neo. But he also asked, “Just how long do you think this peace is going to last?”
“As long as it can,” she said. The machine most responsible for freeing humans from bondage couldn’t guarantee this detente would be a lasting solution.
The Oracle’s answer indicated a future war between humans or machines—or maybe even another battle where they once again unite against a rouge program (or human)—was likely inevitable. But it didn’t necessarily mean the definitely dead Neo would return to fight for it. That possibility arose when she was approached by the young program Sati, who was responsible for the rising sun. Sati told the Oracle she made it “for Neo” and asked, “Will we ever see him again?”
“I suspect so. Someday,” the Oracle answered.
In the very last scene of the trilogy, the wisest entity in the Matrix, the one who protected and nurtured Neo so he could end this terrible war, foresaw that the peace he brought to the world was finite and that he would return again. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised there will be a Matrix 4; maybe we should be surprised it took this long to announce it. Of course, just because The Matrix Revolutions set up the possibility for another film doesn’t mean we should have expected Keanu Reeves to reprise the role. And certainly not Carrie-Anne Moss. But there are plausible ways established in the films for both to return, and for them to return as the very same people they were.
In The Matrix Reloaded, the Architect reveals to Neo he is “the eventuality of an anomaly,” the result of unbalanced equation that is the Matrix. He’s not the first version, but the sixth. On TV screens in the room, we see how the previous five versions of Neo responded to this information. In reality the human city of Zion, and Neo himself, are merely measures of control by the Architect. Neo is a genetically engineered clone. He has no memory of his previous versions; he was made to do a specific job.
Making a “new” Neo when a Neo is needed doesn’t pose any kind of challenge to the machines of the Matrix. Creating an exact replica of Trinity shouldn’t pose any more of a problem either. They have access to her genetic code. She too was born inside the Matrix and not naturally in the real world. But as the last version of Neo proved, while the Matrix can make physical, identical copies of people, each iteration has an entirely new consciousness. For Keanu Reeves to return as the dead savior Neo we knew, they will have to do something else. Like upload the brain of the old one into a new body.
Despite being biological creatures, humans are physically connected to the Matrix like computers. They can have programs—on things like how to fly helicopters or do Kung Fu—instantly uploaded into them. With the amazing technical abilities of the machines, it’s not a big leap to think they can also save a human’s consciousness on a hard drive somewhere (yes, like in that crappy Johnny Depp movie Transcendence). Machines can then upload it into a new body, the same way they would upload anything else
The Neo who saved humans and machine transcended the worlds of both. He was the individual the Matrix would have saved in case they ever needed him again. Especially if they all believed—like the Architect and the Oracle did—that someday he would be needed for a new war. And if you’re going to save him, you should save the person he loved and relied on the most, since without Trinity Neo never would have become the world’s savior. Her love and support pushed Neo to become what he did. She saved his life countless times in each movie—including willing him back to life with her love, saving him from Purgatory, and bringing him to the Machine City. As her name implies, her spirit as both a fighter and an inspiration were as integral to beating Smith as anything Neo did.
The Matrix 4 could open hundreds or even thousands of years in the future, with the de facto resurrection of Neo and Trinity, whose minds were stored in the Matrix long ago. It would be a movie about death and eternal life.
That sounds exactly like the type of story we’d expect from The Matrix, and it’s one the last film set up.
Featured Image: Warner Bros.