It’s been a mere 18 years since we last decided whether to take the blue pill or the red pill, but with nearly two decades of expanded lore and cult classic status to explore, Lana Wachowski is back with The Matrix Resurrections.
While a Who’s Who of returning faces mean Keanu Reeves is back as leading man Neo – alongside the likes of Carrie-Anne Moss and Jada Pinkett Smith – fans are rightly asking where Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus is.
The first trailer for Resurrections featured all the usual spectacular stunts and exhilarating action that made the first three movies a hit. Here, Neo is seen adjusting to “real” life, but it isn’t long before he’s pulled back into the trippy world of the Matrix. There’s a heartfelt reunion with Moss’ Trinity – but Fishburne’s Morpheus is mysteriously MIA.
Yet it turns out a forgotten piece of Matrix canon might explain where the Captain of the Nebuchadnezzar really is.
As noted by Polygon, Morpheus’ mysterious whereabouts can last be traced back to 2005’s The Matrix Online. Cashing in on everyone’s love of the franchise, the now-defunct MMO continued the story of the Wachowskis’ original trilogy.
Here, players took control of a customizable redpill and were free to explore Mega City. Planned with a real-life story that would evolve, The Matrix Online had the blessing of the Wachowskis and was planned to “inherit the storyline” that the movies put in place. Even though the game had its plug pulled in 2009, it’s here that OG Morpheus’ fate was sealed.
During the events of The Matrix Online, a disgruntled Morpheus questioned the Oracle on why Neo’s remains hadn’t been returned. He then set about recruiting his own redpills to help recreate Neo’s Residual Self Image to disrupt the hierarchy of the Matrix.
Sony Online Entertainment
A rogue Morpheus had his own terrorist agenda of chaos and planted a code bomb in the Rumbaar water treatment facility. Although Morpheus was being hunted by a mysterious figure known only as the Assassin, he managed to (briefly) escape. The Assassin then manipulated the code of the Matrix and launched a surprise attack, riddling Morpheus with bullets and leaving him dead. But is this really the end of Morpheus’ story?
There are still those The Matrix Online theorists that hold out hope Morpheus is out there somewhere. Matrix aficionados point to the “Emergency Jack-Out” upgrade for redpills, which could bypass the permadeath they used to face when dying inside the Matrix.
However, there was a later reveal that the Assassin’s bullets had a special “kill code” that would nullify this tech. It’s all typically Matrix-esque, but with select players being emailed a cryptic string of text that said Morpheus would likely “fade away” and hide, some have refused to believe his death will stick.
Of course Resurrections does have Morpheus in some form. Watchmen‘s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is officially credited as Morpheus. This younger Morpheus is cleverly designed to look a lot like Fisburne’s iteration of the character, with many claiming he’s taken over the role from the Hannibal star.
In reality (if you can call anything in the Matrix a reality), The Matrix Online gives the Fishburne mystery a clever get-out-of-jail-free card. Much as other characters have donned the mantle of Thor or Robin, Morpheus could simply be a title given to the mentor figure of the Matrix.
It’s clear Resurrections is trying to distance itself from old Morpheus, with one line in the trailer featuring Neo questioning whether New Morpheus knows who he is. Even Fishburne himself seems perplexed about why he didn’t make the cut when so many others did.
Unless Lana Wachowski and Fishburne are pulling that whole “Angela Bassett isn’t in American Horror Story: Apocalypse” twist, it really seems he’s sitting this one out. In a recent interview, Fishburne said we’d have to ask Wachowski why he isn’t reprising his role as Morpheus.
As Morpheus’ remains were never discovered in the real world, it’s up to Wachowski whether she wants to revisit this rabbit-hole of canon or simply go with the whole “New Morpheus” angle alongside Abdul-Mateen II. Who knows, maybe renewed success for the Matrix name will lead to a fifth movie that can bring Fishburne back to the fold?
In the meantime, we’ll have to look out for him in the next John Wick movie as Abdul-Mateen II picks up where the original left off.
Tom Chapman is a freelance writer specialising in movies and TV.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io