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The Craziest Matrix 4 Theories We've Heard

The original trilogy of Matrix movies are ripe for fan theorizing. Stuffed with symbolism of all kinds, replete with references to everything from the Bible to children's literature, set in a surreal science fiction universe ... it's no surprise fans have come up with things like the "Matrix in a Matrix" theory. With a fourth installment finally headed our way, fan speculation has kicked into overdrive. Could The Matrix 4 be a prequel? Will The Matrix 4 begin a new trilogy of movies? How will The Matrix 4 respond to the world we live in now — in which, in fact, some of its ideas have only become more relevant?

That's what we're looking at today: The wildest fan theories we've found for what might happen, how it might go down, and what it all might mean. Details for The Matrix 4 are fairly thin on the ground, though we know much of the original cast is back, and the Wachowskis are at the helm once again. Fans might yearn for more — but what perfect conditions for wild speculation! Pop a red pill and join us as we see how deep the rabbit hole goes with these fan theories.

It's a prequel, showing how the machines took over

One of the big questions surrounding The Matrix 4 is how it is going to address the fact that its actors are suddenly two decades older. It could go for a digital de-aging process, fans speculate, or it could use some sort of alternate timeline. One theory, from Reddit user DingusChungus, goes further, suggesting that the film will actually address this issue by being a prequel. So, how does that work?

Basically, the idea is that the film might focus on the "real" Neo and Trinity, before the human-machine war and certainly before they were created inside the Matrix system. This theory would easily explain how the two are actually alive, would help provide some background on how the world fell apart, and would set up an inevitable tragedy at the conclusion of The Matrix 4.

It would be fascinating to take a look at who Neo and Trinity were in the actual world — but it might also take some of the magic out of The Matrix if the film isn't actually set within the titular system. Could the Wachowskis convince us? Stay tuned.

It's an alternate timeline/reboot of the system

If The Matrix 4 is to be a direct continuation of the previous films, one way it could do that would be through the use of alternate timelines. Reddit user DingusChungus presents some pretty compelling info from the other Matrix films that could easily explain why everyone is twenty years older and, well, alive.

We know that the computer system keeping humanity enslaved reboots whenever it reaches the endgame with The One. It has, after all, happened before, within the mythology of the franchise. This version of Neo and Trinity could be the same characters within an alternate reboot of the system. Perhaps this iteration did not "awaken" until they were a bit older — or maybe they won't "awaken" at all.

This could allow for some dramatic change, as it would allow every character to depart from their original story lines and characterizations. It would, however, be a dramatic break with continuity. There are tremendous benefits to this approach, but also serious compromises. At least The Matrix series is no stranger to complex timelines.

John Wick is actually Neo

This theory leans heavily on fannish wish fulfillment, and it does tend to fall apart under a bit of scrutiny. That said, Keanu Reeves has had quite the amazing resurgence in the last few years, and tying The Matrix 4 to John Wick is just too much fun to not address. Like many good fan theories, this one has been floating around Reddit for awhile.

This theory suggests that the bizarre hierarchy of assassins seen in the John Wick series is a control mechanism put in place to end the constant cycle of war.  The world of John Wick is, the theory goes, just another layer of the elaborate simulation inside the Matrix system. It would explain things like why John Wick is so highly skilled, why he (and the Bowery King — or Morpheus) are seemingly unkillable, and why no one seems to question the bizarre laws of the land.

It's highly unlikely, sure. But just imagine the audience's reaction to that bombshell — to say nothing of the response on social media. 

Neo is the new Agent Smith

Part of why Keanu Reeves has had such a strong career resurgence is because he's just so darn likable. It's what made his brief cameo in Always Be My Maybe so golden — seeing him act like an insufferable jerk is striking and hilarious. It could also be what would make this theory work so well in practice. What if, it suggests, the Neo we knew from the previous films is well and truly gone, and the machines have repurposed him ... as the ultimate villain?

This theory seems shockingly possible upon further consideration. It makes some strong points about the redundancy of having Neo awaken to the truth of the world again, fight the machines again, and go through every other previously cleared plot point. Having the machines in control of the once-hero of the resistance would, in contrast, be a surprising and nasty turnabout, and would surely make for a few emotional gut punches.

It would be hard for a lot of fans to stomach — many don't take kindly to their favorite characters going in directions like this. But it would be entertaining as all get out to see Reeves flex his bad guy muscles, and would immediately give agency to the film's villain.

Morpheus has been the true villain all along

Though this theory isn't necessarily confined to The Matrix 4, it would provide the film with an opportunity for a intensely emotional betrayal. To make sense of the entire concept that Morpheus may be a villain in The Matrix and all of its sequels, we need to do some name analysis.

Morpheus himself is named after a Greek god associated with dreams and sleep, often referred to as "the fashioner" or "the shaper" in reference to the fantastical nighttime visions he creates. If Morpheus in The Matrix is truly a baddie, he's quite the shaper himself, having fooled everyone into thinking they're waking up. 

Moreover, Morpheus' ship is called the Nebuchadnezzar, named for a Biblical king of Babylon known as a conqueror. In the Bible, Nebuchadnezzar's biggest victory was destroying and enslaving the population of the city called Zion — which, of course, is also the name of the human city in The Matrix. It seems odd that the good guy's ship would be named after the ultimate "Zion" bad guy, doesn't it? Wouldn't it make a certain sort of sense if that good guy turned out to be a conqueror in disguise, wielding stories instead of swords? It would be devastating — and spectacular. Here's hoping that it's up for consideration, even if Laurence Fishburne doesn't return for The Matrix 4.

Neo and Trinity are computerized imitations of themselves

This one takes a little bit of brain-bending to grasp, but it would help explain why Neo and Trinity are back in action in The Matrix 4. The theory goes like this: Neither one of them is actually "them." They've both died and come back ... as idealized versions of themselves created from someone else's memory.

The evidence for this comes from Neo's resurrection of Trinity in The Matrix: Reloaded. Since dying in The Matrix kills you in real life, there is no person for Neo to actually bring back — once Trinity is gone, she can't be "restarted." Instead, Neo creates a copy of Trinity through his memories of her, which explains why her character starts dressing and acting a bit differently after she comes back.

This could easily be expanded into The Matrix 4. Perhaps Neo and Trinity are "older" because that's how whoever brings them back imagines them. If Morpheus or someone else is responsible for their return, maybe it's been a while and they're working with imperfect memories. The possibilities are huge — and tantalizing.

Trinity could exist as DNA turned into computer code

For this one, we need to veer off course from the films and into video game territory. After the films, the Wachowskis consulted on a massively multiplayer video game called The Matrix Online, billed as a canon continuation of the story. Trinity is resurrected in that game, but with a bit of an odd side effect.

Essentially, Trinity is still human, but her DNA exists purely as computer code inside the Matrix system. Transforming human DNA into pure computer code is apparently one of the machines' original goals for domination, so this strange hybrid may be the key (for either side) in ending the war and declaring victory.

The Matrix series loves to play with concepts of belonging and identity, so it would be fascinating to see The Matrix 4 tackle this idea. We doubt it will make The Matrix Online an official part of film canon, but it may wind up lifting a few ideas from it. Not a bad afterlife for a now-shuttered game.

The original trilogy is a video game in the world of The Matrix 4

How meta will The Matrix 4 go? Well, if you believe some leaked audition tapes that many fans claim come straight from the Wachowskis, the answer is "way more than you thought."

This theory uses some dialogue clues from those audition tapes to suppose that the original Matrix trilogy exists as a video game inside the world of The Matrix 4. All those characters who were fighting to get out of a world controlled by machines? They were all within another layer of that world, still controlled entirely by a machine.

Now, this could mean the original trilogy actually happened, the video game version of it created for its own purposes. But it could also suggest that the original trilogy was only ever a video game all along. If that's the case, The Matrix 4 could truly go anywhere with its plot, characters, and worldbuilding.

Neo and his group are unwitting terrorists, destroying humanity's chance at survival

Humanity is its own worst enemy, as this theory asserts. It suggests that the machines controlling reality are, in fact, good guys, doing exactly what they were programmed to do by their human creators. Neo and his crew are sabotaging everything, according to this line of thinking, and need to be stopped for the good of mankind.

The idea behind this theory is that humanity essentially destroyed the world, using up its resources and rendering the planet uninhabitable. The only way forward was to  go into cryosleep and create an AI network of machines to clean up the mess and take care of humanity in the meantime. Without the machines, the world is entirely doomed. No one, the plan's architects might have supposed, would be able to break out of the mass dream and interfere with the AI's important work until it was done.

That's precisely what Neo and friends have been up to, of course. Rather than making just one of the original team into bad guys, perhaps The Matrix 4 will make them all into villains. Unwitting ones to be sure, but villains nonetheless, sabotaging their own chance at a future. It's a twist to be sure ... but it could pay off enormously.