The idea of a return to the world of The Matrix after almost two decades is definitely an intriguing proposition, but director Lana Wachowski still has a lot of work to do in order to convince fans that it will also be a necessary one. After all, the original was one of the most innovative and groundbreaking action movies ever made that launched a thousand pale imitations, but the back-to-back sequels were major disappointments.
The Wachowskis have always been lauded for their creativity and ability to create unique mythologies, but they’ve also faced plenty of well-warranted criticisms for their shortcomings as writers. The fourth installment is now back in front of cameras following a lengthy delay due to the Coronavirus pandemic that saw it pushed back almost an entire year to April 2022, ruining Keanu Reeves Day in the process, but plot details are still firmly under wraps.
We know that Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving won’t be returning as Morpheus and Agent Smith, respectively, but Aquaman star Yayha Abdul-Mateen II is rumored to be playing a younger version of the former. And now, a new fan theory claims that Hamilton and Mindhunter star Jonathan Groff could potentially be inheriting the role of the latter.
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You see, with scheduling conflicts forcing Weaving to decline the offer to return, Smith must have at least featured in an early draft of the script, and with reports also indicating that some form of time travel may be involved, recasting Neo’s nemesis with a different actor could lean into the idea that multiple timelines and realities exist inside of The Matrix.
As ScreenRant explains:
Of the new cast, Groff makes the most sense as an alternative Agent Smith: he’s the right kind of actor for the role (as his Hamilton villainy proves), and could certainly convince as a younger version of Smith if that’s the path the filmmakers decide to take. There is even some suggestion that the Matrix 4 changes the reason for the machine’s simulation, so it’s clear that the entire mythology of the franchise could well be rewritten by this latest installment.
But what would it mean for The Matrix 4 to replace Weaving’s Agent Smith with a younger model? Well, Smith’s return could have a wide range of implications for the story of the franchise, as his presence would likely necessitate time travel, a prequel approach, flashbacks, or a Neo-style revival. Of all the possibilities for who Groff could be playing, Smith may be the most interesting. His presence could also lead to the existence of an alternative Neo, or a retelling of the original films from a new perspective if he plays a younger version of Smith.
Fellow newcomer Neil Patrick Harris has also been speculated to be the villain this time around, but if The Matrix 4 is to stand on its own merits as a worthy successor to the original trilogy, then returning to the well and having a new actor play an iconic villain like Agent Smith would be a major backwards step for a franchise that is almost infinite in scope and possibility.