UPDATE: Warner Bros. Is Actively Looking Into Making the Next Matrix Movie. [Editor's Note: this article was originally published before the update.]
The Matrix Trilogy helped usher in the 21st century era of blockbuster movies, mashing up the tropes of '80s and '90s action movies with martial arts action of Eastern cinema, with heady ideas and themes mined from both cultures, as well as The Wachowskis' own unique imaginations. It may not have ended nearly as well as it began, but that hasn't stopped talk of the franchise's continuation from circulating for nearly a decade and a half since The Matrix Revolutions was in theaters.
Most recently, John Wick: Chapter 2 star (and former Matrix leading man) Keanu Reeves was speaking about what it would take for him to do a new Matrix movie. After hearing his list of conditions for that to happen, we got to thinking - if they do make a new Matrix movie, what would need to be done to get it right? Instead of just complaining about what went wrong with Reloaded and Revolutions, we put together some thoughts.
Here's How to do the Next Matrix Movie Right.
Let's not beat around the bush: The next Matrix movie would be as much of a new start as it was a continuation, so why not embrace that with a winking meta approach to the story and marketing?
Call it The Matrix Rebooted and play up the double entendre. Give us a storyline that brings us into an actual rebooted version of the Matrix (with the looming mystery as to why/how it's back online); give us a new set of characters to follow, and an entirely new set of rules to learn.
On the marketing side, play up the fresh start for the franchise, and let it be the guiding hand through development. The Matrix Trilogy has a big legacy of game-changing visual spectacle and action, so also bring some mind-blowing visual teases early on, just like the original film did.
Timely New Story
As stated, the next Matrix should fully embrace the reboot idea, and go with a new storyline and set of characters. What it should not do is make the same misstep that so many other big franchise reboots do: overindulge in nostalgic fan service.
The premise of the franchise demands a new Matrix be a complete redesign of the actual Matrix, with humanity unaware that it is trapped in a false world. There is an easy way to take that idea and turn it into a story filled with mystery and intrigue (how/why is The Matrix back online), while at the same time telling a very necessary and timely story.
In the day and age where arguments about fake news and social media bubbles are at the forefront, it seems the metaphors of the original Matrix are more relevant than ever. Instead of looking back, let's take a fresh look at the now.
Old Programs (Cameos)
Like we said: we don't want a Matrix reboot that overindulges in fan service nostalgia - but that doesn't mean we can't get some choice cameos from old faces from the franchise's past.
The most obvious big cameo would be Keanu Reeves' Neo, but whether it's him, or Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith, Trinity, Morpheus, etc., it would be a nice twist to have most of those old faces now appear as programs in The Matrix.
This shouldn't be a hard thing for The Wachowskis, who have never shied away from big philosophical or emotional ideas in their works. If the next Matrix attempts to confront the world that has come to be since the original trilogy was released, then it needs to say something big and bold about that world.
It would be fitting, really. The Wachowskis have been through immense personal changes since The Matrix Trilogy came out, and anyone looking at their more recent work like Cloud Atlas or the Netflix series Sense8 can see there's a clear theme in it: the universality of humanity - the ties that connect us all.
The vehicles for conveying that theme haven't been universally loved, but fit into the mold of a Matrix story, maybe Lana and Lilly can really drive home something the world really needs to hear right now: that when you're finally woke AF (figuratively and literally), there is more that connects us in life and humanity than there is that divides us.
Show Don't Tell
This is the biggest correction that the Matrix franchise needs if (when?) it moves forward. It started as a reasonable enough problem in the first film, but spiraled way out of control in the two sequels - to the point that Matrix Reloaded's big finale was an advanced philosophy lecture instead of an exciting climax.
It's great for a blockbuster movie to have big ideas - so long as those ideas are expressed visually, instead of just through long info dumps of dialogue. As the old adage goes, "show don't tell."
Since the next Matrix needs to visually stun the audience as much as anything else, showing would definitely need to be a major focus.