It took almost two decades, but last week we finally get a fourth Matrix movie, both in theaters and online. It wasn’t a full reboot: Among those AWOL were Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, and, course, philosopher and political activist Cornel West (who swung by the first two sequels). Also missing was one half of the Wachowskis: Lana directed but not Lilly, who decided it would be “unappealing” to go back to the franchise that made her and her sister’s names. But, we now know, it could have been made without either of them.
In an interview with Collider (as caught by IndieWire), producer James McTeigue, who was also first assistant director on the original trilogy, revealed that Warner Bros. could have very well have produced a fourth Matrix without either of the Wachowskis.
“I think when you’ve had a franchise with that much potential money-making capability, there’s always talk,” McTeigue said:
“It’s in the same way that the Marvel universe repeats and turns in on itself, or you have Spider-Man, or you have Iron Man, or Thor. There’s always a potential to update those movies just because of the possibility of making the money and telling new stories. I shouldn’t say it’s just a purely fiscal thought. But yeah, look, there was versions out there, but they hadn’t landed on the right version. So when Lana eventually came back around and said, ‘Look. I’m interested in making another movie,’ of course, they went with the filmmaker who was the genesis of the Matrix.”
This was alluded to in one of the film’s many wink-wink moments. In the film, Keanu Reeves’ Neo aka Thomas Anderson believes he’s a hit video game designer, who hit it big with a series called — that’s right — The Matrix. At one point, his boss (Jonathan Groff, who winds up being a reborn and less dastardly Agent Smith) basically lays out why there was a fourth Matrix movie to begin with.
“Things have changed, the market’s tough,” Groff’s character says. “I’m sure you can understand why our beloved parent company Warner Bros. has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy. They informed me they’re going to do it with or without us.”
If you enjoyed The Matrix Resurrections — which takes the series in some truly unexpected directions, and which even satirizes our love of revivals to being with — you probably won’t be getting any more, at least from the Wachowskis.
“We’ve got no prequel in mind,” McTeigue told Collider. “We’ve got no sequel in mind. We’ve got no further trilogy.” But while there may not be a new Matrix film in the works, McTeigue adds that there is an Easter egg to keep an eye out for when you rewatch The Matrix Resurrections.” He added, “Look at the screens when we first come into the [Thomas Anderson] office.”