Yesterday, a shocking piece of news was unleashed upon the world: Donald Trump’s 2005 income tax papers finally proved that rich people pay much less percentage-wise than you and me and that tax changes he’s trying to get approved will allow people like him to pay even less! And then, Hollywood responded with some shocking news of its own. The Hollywood Reporter broke a huge entertainment news story: Warner Bros is developing a reboot of The Matrix without the involvement of original franchise creators Lilly and Lana Wachowski and possibly starring Michael B. Jordan.
My immediate response is that this is a horrible idea. After dwelling on it, I compiled a list of reasons to leave this franchise alone…and then decided to play devil’s advocate and also look at the reasons why The Matrix should be rebooted.
SHOULDN’T: The Wachoskis Aren’t Involved
At this point, the Wachowski’s aren’t involved in the Matrix reboot, which seems wrong. As our own Jacob Hall messaged me to say:
Those movies are purely the Wachowskis. Every great moment, flaw, inspiration, and choice comes straight from their very specific sensibilities. Everything they love, everything they fear, their very specific fetishes…it’s all on display. They’re almost autobiographical: the characters emerge from a haze to find their true selves and transform into the people they always wanted to be. Those movies are them. If they’re not steering it, it’s not The Matrix.
That’s right, the number one reason The Matrix should and shouldn’t be rebooted are the exact same reason.
I love The Matrix, but was disappointed by the sequels. Since then, the Wachowskis have made several more films but they’ve been divisive: Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending have as many passionate fans as they do haters. Even those film fanatics who are still Wachowski diehards have to admit that their aesthetics and tastes sometimes feel a bit dated in the modern film landscape. It’s not that I want to see a Matrix reboot – it’s that I’m not sure I want to see another Matrix movie from the Wachowskis. If anything, I’d personally like to see a new filmmaker bring their own unique take to the property.
Not having the Wachowskis at the helm might allow for different kinds of stories. It’s not that the Wachowskis don’t have the ability to do that, but having a different perspective might allow the world to be explored in a way that the Wachowskis never would have thought about. In The Animatrix, we got nine distinct animé filmmakers taking on different aspects of the universe. None of them featured Neo, and even the worst shorts of the bunch were interesting, at the very least.
SHOULDN’T: The Matrix Sequels Already Prove It’s a Bad Idea
The Matrix sequels might not be as bad as history remembers (Ed. note: Some of us really like them!), but they are certainly not as great as the original 1999 film. The expansion of the ideas from the initial film were not as satisfying. Everything was more effective when we knew and saw less. Why are we to believe that someone can do any better?
SHOULD: Finally! A Chance To Make Up For the Wrongs of the Matrix Sequels!
I think you can draw a good parallel between The Matrix and the television series Lost. Both started with some amazing ideas, but an apparent lack of planning was a big reason why they didn’t stick the landing. Maybe a Matrix reboot would allow a new filmmaker to plan for the larger arc of a story before they dives in? One of the reasons I believe limited event television series work is because the showrunners are given one season to tell their story and every step is planned out ahead of time. The Matrix and Lost have a lot in common – great beginnings and great ideas, with no coherent towards the end game.
SHOULDN’T: The Ending’s Open-Endedness Is Perfect
The Matrix trilogy has an open ending that leaves a lot to the imagination. The conclusion of The Matrix Revolutions features a ceasefire between the humans and the machines – no one wins and everyone will have to learn to live together. It’s an ending about balance that you can read as hopeful…or about the inevitability of more conceit. It’s frustrating and vague by design and some people love that. To be fair, plenty of other fans were frustrated by it.
SHOULD: There’s Huge World To Explore Beyond The One
There’s a huge world to explore beyond the story of “The One.” The open ending allows for the potential resurgence of another heroic “anomaly,” and continuing the story wouldn’t necessarily require too much explanation. As Ethan Anderson noted in his post:
Unlike some franchises that get the reboot treatment, The Matrix essentially has a built-in narrative device for getting rebooted. In the original film series, part of the plot revolves around the fact that there have been several versions of the Matrix, and the entire system gets rebooted once Neo (Keanu Reeves) serves his purpose as The One. Therefore, it would be easy to begin a whole new narrative with new characters set within the same universes.
The Matrix Reloaded establishes this cycle and that Neo isn’t the first “One,” so a reboot could explore earlier or later cycles. I would hate to see a movie with Michael B. Jordan playing a young version of Morpheus, but the world of The Matrix may be worth exploring further. After all, we’re seeing a lot more sequels that are based on fan love for a world, not necessarily a set of characters, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Avatar 2 being prominent examples.