If you're alive and a fan of mass entertainment, you know the news; The Matrix is coming back. There are some details; Keanu, Kerry, and Lana are back. After that we're all in the dark.
Twitter has all kinds of takes, The Verge had a full staff discussion on what they want, and when Jacob and I sit down to FWOAC next we'll have thoughts as well. Seeing as everyone is having a look back at 1999, if this was gonna happen, now is definitely the time. So before the hydrant runs dry and we all move on to the next thing (Back to the Future 4?), I'd like to write down my thoughts.
Back in March when FWOAC discussed The Matrix franchise, my takes were as follows:
- The original is a classic, maybe masterpiece
- Reloaded is flawed but intriguing.
- Revolutions is a dumpster fire. (in college I even wrote the first 30 pages of a Revolutions rewrite. It is in fact the first time I ever thought something should be stricken from any saga's canon and replaced.)
So with all that preamble, Where do I think is the most palatable and logical place to set The Matrix 4.0?
|Jacob and Pat initial text exchange on Matrix 4.0.|
If Warner Brothers and Lana Wachowski dare -and yes I am daring them- title the fourth film "Matrix: Rebooted," then it quite simply must be a meditation on the singularity. The concept that one day humans will be able to upload our consciousness to computer networks and live eternally in digital form. Quite simply Neo and Trinity have been recompiled in the programming of The Matrix as their last iterations to be present in the system from Revolutions.
The conflict and plot can be any number of stacked blocks, but this idea would play wonderfully with one of the few things Revolutions gets right; personhood. When Neo is stuck in the subway station, he meets innocent programs being shuttled to salvation. The concept is force-fed to the audience that just because someone isn't an organic human being doesn't mean they shouldn't be afforded the rights of an organic human being; i.e. self-ware programs are sentient and should be treated with respect.
In my "Neo & Trinity are the Matrix" framework, maybe they'll instinctively want to destroy The Matrix, but that would mean their own demise. At the same time, they wont want to fight humans because that would be carrying out an existential genocide of a world they come from. So I assume there will be some form of World War 1 entrenched combat that has a third element of complexity threatening both worlds.
Now the real storytelling flex would be to make Neo live within the confines of Matrix programming. As he no longer is operating from outside the system, he may no longer be able to do "his Superman thing." This is the major flaw in the first film, at least when it was turned into a franchise. Neo is basically omnipotent once he actualizes his abilities as The One. What happens when that is either taken away from him or restrained due to The Matrix inability to program something smarter and stronger than itself?
Beyond the inverted place and purpose of the leads, the singularity would be a quick slide into some of the elements of the Animatrix and discussion of power supply, anatomical and organic lifecycles, and necessities for population subsistence. Finally, the discussion of battling for the hive ethics of one army versus another. Everyone believes they are the hero in their story, well in some cases that might be true.
Okay, did I lose you a few paragraphs back? This kind of content is a bit indulgent, but who cares? If you enjoy something, and care enough to argue over its quality or delivery ideas, then that is a good thought experiment. If you've gotten this far then you're right person to read this; we have a couple years of this kind of debate before we even see a trailer for Neo & Trinity round four. Let's just hope they leave Zion, the gundams, and Jada Pinkett Smith out of it.