In 1999, The Matrix became the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. The Wachowskis’ wild sci-fi action flick would hold that title until the release of Deadpool in 2016. Now after two sequels, an animated anthology, and over two decades, Lana Wachowski is returning to the world of The Matrix. The Matrix Resurrections is an eagerly anticipated sequel that will continue the story of Neo, Trinity, and the battle between man and machine. So what do you need to know (or remember) about The Matrix franchise’s history going into Resurrections? We’re here to get you up to cyberpunk speed.

What Is the Matrix?
Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix holds his hand up to stop bullets
Warner Bros

The title of the ’99 movie is shared with the name of the computer simulation that humans are revealed to live in during the first movie. After an epic war between humans and their AI creations which evolved out of their control, the world is split in two. What we think of as the Earth is actually the aforementioned computer simulation. The “real world” is where the Machines harvest energy from humans. It’s also the home of the human rebellion working to free the world from the Matrix and open their eyes to the reality of the place they live.

Where are Trinity and Neo?
Keanu Reeves' Neo squares up in a fighting stance in front of a window with people's silhouettes behind it in
Warner Bros.

Well, this is where things get interesting. At the end of Matrix Revolutions, both Neo and Trinity apparently died. The latter was killed in a crash which preceded the end of the human-machine war. And Neo later sacrificed himself in order for peace between the warring worlds. His sacrifice saved the machine world and in exchange, the Machines agreed to stop the war with the humans. At the end of the film, Neo was absorbed into the Matrix. But it wasn’t the Matrix as we know it; it was, in fact, Agent Smith’s program. In being absorbed by it, Neo apparently destroyed it, killing himself and Smith in the process. Deep stuff.

What Is Zion?
Jada Pinkett-Smith suits up as Niobe in the Matrix sequels
Warner Bros.

This is the apparent real world utopia where freed humans live outside of the Matrix. A cavernous underworld that exists under the surface of the Earth, this is the last human stronghold. While the humans thought that Zion was their creation and a way to fight the Machines, it was later revealed to be another part of the Machines’ war on humans. Zion was actually a way for the Architect and the Machines to control the humans, allowing them to think they were free. In a wild plot, the Architect created Zion around society’s need and belief for Messiah figures. Zion and its inhabitants believe in the myth of the One. Why does that matter? Well, the One is needed by the Architect to disseminate code to enable him to reboot the system, restarting the cycle the Matrix exists on.

Neo’s sacrifice contradicted this and in a paradoxical sense proved that the prophecy of the One was real. His death and erasing of Agent Smith broke the cycle, allowing Zion to be saved. So the big question is: what will the denizens have done to keep it alive until now? Will it be the same Zion we know? Was the Architect needed to keep it running? Has a true revolution with the One been achieved?

Who Is Returning?
a still from the matrix shows neo and trinity together in zion
Warner Bros.

While it’s unclear how it’ll happen, we know that Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann Moss will be returning as Neo and Trinity. Jada Pinkett Smith will also be back as Niobe, an old Zion freedom fighter. While Morpheus will be returning, he won’t be the same Morpheus we knew before. The man who brought Neo into the Matrix will now be played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II rather than Laurence Fishburne. And he’s not the only one. According to reports, Jonathan Groff will be taking over the Agent Smith role played so famously by Hugo Weaving. Another recast classic character is Priyanka Chopra as the child program Sati.

Are There New Characters?
Jessica Henwick as Bugs a young British Asian woman with blue hair
Warner Bros

Yes! Alongside the returning cast and reimagined characters, there are a few new faces. Jessica Henwick takes a co-leading role as Bugs. We don’t know much about her but Henwick has said the character is a “true believer in the legend of Neo.” And that’s an interesting fact. She’s joined by Neil Patrick Harris who plays Neo’s therapist but seems to perhaps have a more nefarious role under the surface. Other newcomers include Christina Ricci and Telma Hopkins in lesser known roles.

When Does The Matrix Resurrections Take Place?
A still from Matrix Resurrections shows Jada Pinkett Smith in old woman makeup as an aged up version of Niobe
Warner Bros.

While there’s nothing confirmed yet, there are a few hints. Both Neo and Trinity seem to be back in the Matrix as they’re seen in a world that looks like ours in the trailers. There they seem to have aged naturally like it’s just been those same 18 years since the last movie. But when we see Jada Pinkett Smith’s Niobe, she is far older than either of them. Seeing as she’s younger in real life, this hints that while it’s been under 20 years in the Matrix, in the real world timeline it’s been much much longer since the end of the last film.

The Matrix Resurrections hits theaters and HBO Max on Dec 22nd.

Featured Image: Warner Bros.

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