So Is The Matrix Online Still Canon Or Not?

This article contains major spoilers for "The Matrix Resurrections."

In the mid-to-late 2000s, after the back-to-back sequels "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions" landed in 2003, the mythology and world of "The Matrix" carried on in an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) that was appropriately dubbed "The Matrix Online." The idea behind this game — as franchise creators the Wachowskis described it in an interview with IGN — was to let gamers "inherit the storyline."

There was an earlier game called "Enter the Matrix," but beginning in 2005 fans could jack into "The Matrix Online" and be an interactive part of the continuing "Matrix" saga. Paul Chadwick, the same person who conducted that IGN interview, wrote "The Matrix Online," but fans could participate in the ongoing story.

"The Matrix Online" went offline in 2009, and now there's a new movie in theaters and on HBO Max, "The Matrix Resurrections," which is picking up the story again. The question is: is "The Matrix Online" still considered canon? The answer appears to be ... yes!

For non-gamers and casual fans, the most important thing to know is that "The Matrix Online" is where Morpheus died. If you've only seen the four "Matrix" films (five, if you count the anime anthology, "The Animatrix"), then the death of Morpheus will just seem like something that happened offscreen between "Revolutions" and "Resurrections."

Morpheus Is Dead and the Machines Were Holding Neo

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, the new quasi-Morpheus, wasn't lying when he said he was playing "a different iteration of the character." Before the release of "The Matrix Resurrections," questions abounded as to why director Lana Wachowski had cast Abdul-Mateen in place of Laurence Fishburne, who played Morpheus in the original trilogy. Now, we know that what many suspected is true: Morpheus is still dead and gone outside the Matrix. Abdul-Mateen is playing a "modal Morpheus," an algorithmic "combo pack" of traits from Morpheus and Agent Smith, two beings who were important to Neo's journey and helped him become who he is.  

In "The Matrix Online," the machines were holding Neo's body after his death in their city at the end of "Revolutions." Morpheus wanted the body back, and this set off a whole plot where he was terrorizing the Matrix, revealing its code to unawakened humans inside who were ill-equipped to handle the truth. It ended in his death at the hands of a new character called the Assassin.

In "The Matrix Resurrections," Morpheus' old flame, Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), has survived to old age, and she explains some of what happened to Neo as they are looking at a statue of Morpheus with Fishburne's face. We learn, also, that the reason the machines were so adamant about keeping Neo's body is because they had resurrected him and the Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) was using him as a battery to power his new Matrix.

The modal Morpheus, meanwhile, is able to manifest himself outside the Matrix via some kind of "particle codex" with "paramagnetic oscillation." It's all very techno-babble-ish. What's important is that Wachowski decided to honor the events of the game and move forward with a sequel that is all-inclusive of franchise history.

"The Matrix Resurrections" is in theaters now.