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Is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Really Playing Morpheus In The Matrix Resurrections?

On September 9, Warner Bros. released the first trailer for "The Matrix Resurrections" — the fourth film in the franchise and the first since 2003's "The Matrix Revolutions." One significant complication inherent in the very existence of a fourth "Matrix" film is the fact that two of the series' protagonists, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), die at the end of "Revolutions," leading fans to speculate about the nature of both actors' inclusion in this latest film.

While its first trailer doesn't definitively answer how Reeves and Moss fit into the latest "Matrix" story — or even whether or not they're playing the same versions of Neo and Trinity as in the previous films in the series — the characters portrayed by both actors at the very least appear to have no memory of the events of the prior "Matrix" films.

The introduction of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is complicating matters. Throughout the trailer, his character appears to be serving the same role as Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) from the first three "Matrix" movies. Whether or not Abdul-Mateen is portraying Morpheus or another character entirely is up for debate.

The case for Morpheus

Supporting the idea that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is indeed playing Morpheus in "The Matrix Resurrections" is the fact that original Morpheus actor Laurence Fishburne was never considered for the cast of "Resurrections." This suggests that the story director Lana Wachowski intended to tell from the start involves a version of Morpheus altered in a manner Neo and Trinity are not — given the return of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. This is, of course, presuming that the story of a fourth "Matrix" film would need to feature Morpheus in some capacity, given his importance to the franchise thus far. Abdul-Mateen's character so closely resembles Morpheus in the film's first trailer — wearing the same glasses and even training Neo in a dojo just like in the first film — that it's safe to assume he's at the very least intricately linked to him.

Furthermore, if MMORPG "The Matrix Online" is considered to be canonical to the "Matrix" franchise, then Morpheus died in the years following the conclusion of "The Matrix Revolutions" (via Kotaku). This suggests one of two things: that Morpheus' return come "Resurrections" differs from Neo and Trinity's respective revivals, necessitating a new body, or that he remains dead and Abdul-Mateen is someone else entirely.

The case against Morpheus

The film's credits currently have yet to name Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's role, suggesting the nature of his character might not be as straightforward as a younger Morpheus. Reddit user FindingNeo theorized the character is Morpheus' son, supported by the fact that Jada Pinkett Smith is reprising her role as Morpheus' love interest Niobe.

Furthermore, if the canonical Neo and Trinity somehow end up in an alternate timeline — supported by the fact that they're the only familiar faces in the first trailer — then Abdul-Mateen could be portraying a character in this timeline that acts in the same capacity as Morpheus but is a different person altogether.

Redditor TheMoogster proposed that Abdul-Mateen's character intentionally tries to create moments Neo experienced with Morpheus in his past to wake him up from this new universe, which could very well be a brand-new simulation. In that case, Abdul-Mateen might not be Morpheus but someone aware of Morpheus and purposefully mimicking him. In either case, Abdul-Mateen's role remains a "Matrix" mystery that can only be answered definitively when more information becomes available. 

"The Matrix Resurrections" will be released in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22.