A trailer for The Matrix Resurrections has finally hinted at a possible explanation for the controversial decision to recast Morpheus. In all three acts of the original trilogy the iconic character was played by Laurence Fishburne. This time around, however, the role of Morpheus is being played by Watchmen star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, though this shift has not yet been addressed by director and franchise co-creator Lana Wachowski.
In The Matrix, Morpheus is established as a powerful and charismatic leader who has spent much of his life searching for “The One”, an individual who would use their superhuman abilities to end the human/machine war, according to prophecy. Morpheus eventually finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) and plays an integral role in his journey as The One, providing him the red pill that awakens him to the truth, and training Neo to fulfill his destiny. With Morpheus’ assistance, Neo eventually brokers a tenuous peace between the humans and machines in the final moments of The Matrix Revolutions.
Although no official reasoning for Morpheus’ recasting has been revealed, the newest Matrix Resurrections trailer hints that the original Morpheus may have died. The trailer additionally revealed that Jada Pinkett Smith’s character Niobe has aged considerably since the previous installment, much more severely than Neo or Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) appear to have aged. Given that both Morpheus and Niobe have a romantic history and ties to the real-world human city of Zion, it seems likely that they have both been outside the Matrix, growing old. It’s therefor not a leap to suggest that Morpheus—the real Morpheus—may have died during the apparent decades they have spent away.
Whether or not the original Morpheus is indeed dead, the trailers also seem to put to bed the theory that Abdul-Mateen is playing a younger version of Fishburne’s Morpheus via flashbacks, given that he has scenes with a clearly older Neo. In fact, the latest trailer’s reveal that Jonathan Groff’s character is actually Agent Smith gives credence to the possibility that the new Morpheus is a program, just like Smith. The series has recast characters before, but only those who are constructs within the Matrix, like the Oracle. A programmed version of a young Morpheus would be an ideal scheme to keep The One trapped in the Matrix. Abdul-Mateen’s comments that his character is on a “journey of self-discovery” set up the real possibility that his iteration of Morpheus will begin as a program with ties to the machines, but end up breaking free and forging his own path.
At the end of The Matrix Revolutions, Morpheus was the only one of the heroic trio—comprised of Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus—still alive. The Matrix Resurrections appears to flip the script, somehow bringing Neo and Trinity, more powerful than ever, back into the fold, while the original Morpheus has likely died and been supplanted by a younger version of himself. When the film releases in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22, the mysteries surrounding both versions of Morpheus will finally be unraveled.
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Author: Dylan Connor