For the longest time now, it’s been a poorly kept secret that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II would be playing a young Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections. When Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss were confirmed to be returning as Neo and Trinity but Laurence Fishburne wasn’t, it didn’t take much detective work to deduce that the Aquaman star was portraying some kind of de-aged version of the character.
Sure enough, the trailer seemed to pretty much confirm this, featuring Mateen recreating multiple iconic scenes from the original movie opposite Reeves, even wearing Fishburne’s familiar round shades. However, the actor is now throwing doubt on the fact that his character’s identity is so simple to define. While speaking with British GQ, Abdul-Mateen cryptically stated that his role is “called Morpheus” not that he is Morpheus. Here’s the relevant part of the interview:
“The character’s called Morpheus,’ [Abdul-Mateen II] corrects me, fast. There is some consternation online about why Laurence Fishburne, the original Morpheus, is not playing the character called Morpheus, given Keanu Reeves is back as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. Has he spoken to Fishburne? ‘By the time this interview comes out, I would have. I want to.’ It should be pointed out that Fishburne has not only been very gracious in the build-up to this fourth film, but also that, if you go by strict ‘Matrix’ folklore, namely a video game called ‘The Matrix Online,’ Morpheus is actually dead. ‘It will make sense when it comes out,’ says Abdul-Mateen, who is playing Morpheus but is not Morpheus.”
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As the GQ interviewer reminds us, The Matrix Online previously depicted Fishburne’s character as having died after the events of Revolutions. In the game, he’s assassinated by the Machines for demanding the return of Neo’s body, with them inserting a fake Morpheus program into the Matrix in a bid to restart the Human/Machine conflict. The Wachowskis had some involvement in the game but didn’t write its storyline, so it remains to be seen if Lana Wachowski will decide to follow it or retcon it out of continuity with the new film.
The Matrix Resurrections looks to be a mix of the familiar and the fresh, with Reeves and Moss joined by a couple of other faces from the original trilogy – like Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe and Lambert Wilson as The Merovingian – as well as newcomers like Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jones and Christina Ricci. There’s not long now until we find out if it measures up to the franchise’s past as the movie opens in theaters and streams on HBO Max starting this Dec. 22.