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If The Matrix 5 has to happen, it needs to start from scratch

It would be better if it just didn't exist, though.

A still from The Matrix of Trinity and Neo walking through a corporate building, both in black leather trench coats and sunglasses on.
Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery

Earlier this week, word arrived from Warner Bros. that The Matrix 5 is in development with Netflix's Daredevil creator Drew Goddard at the helm, and in turn a big sigh was uttered across the internet - myself included. It's fine for franchises to die, especially one that ends as conclusively (at least thematically) as The Matrix: Resurrections did, but unfortunately in a world where IP is king, there is always money to be made. I know my complaining here won't stop Warner Bros. from pushing ahead with a new entry, but if a new film has to happen, then it needs to start at the beginning.

Last month, on March 31, a trifecta of events took place: it was Easter Sunday, Trans Day of Visibility, and the 25th anniversary of the original Matrix film. Only once in a generation can such events take place at the same time, and it feels like a perfect way for The Matrix to celebrate such a big birthday, what with the obvious Jesus-like figure it has in Neo, and the very purposeful trans themes present in the film. The two following sequels weren't as well received, and neither was its 2021 soft-reboot Resurrections, though all three have been critically reappraised as the years have gone on.

I don't think they could ever hold a candle to the original, as it felt like lightning in a bottle. It came at the perfect time, with its dark, edgy, and rainy vibes alongside its use of contemporary technology, it tapped into the zeitgeist of the 90s perfectly right at the end of the decade. No sequel could ever hope to capture that, and its job was made all the more difficult by the fact that Neo went on a classic hero's journey, a perfect way to start a story.

Because of all of this, I think The Matrix 5 needs to be a fresh start. Not only was Resurrections received mixed critically, it also wasn't a box office sensation. Sure, it made its money back and a bit more, but not much more. As several have pointed out during recent discourse surrounding the films, it might just be a bit hard for modern audiences to connect with, particularly with how different the world it comes from is.

It's not just the tech that has changed, but how we interact with said tech too. In the early days of the internet, and right up to the introduction of the smartphone, the internet was more a place you visited than this ever-present thing it is now. Smartphones and tablets make us tuned in all the time, so this idea of a Matrix that you can plug in and out of might honestly be unfamiliar for a younger audience in the first instance.

I think it's possible that a new hero might be needed too, one that can go through what the current generation is going through, albeit covered in layers of metaphors and the like. The Matrix is about a lot of things, but most obviously it's about the drudgery of daily life under capitalist systems, having to do paperwork for an office job no one actually cares about, dreaming of a more exciting life. I think that dream part is pretty relatable for many now, but Gen-Z aren't really the office job type, so even that would need modernising in a way.

These are only suggestions, of course, maybe Goddard and co have some genius idea that'll hook you in right away (but I do mostly think this is a bit of a way for Warner Bros. to cash in on an IP, much like Resurrections was). We are in the age of reboots though, even if I do loathe that that's a large part of movies now, so again, if The Matrix 5 does have to happen, it has to be something new, even if it is just numbers on a screen to Hollywood executives.

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