Warner Bros. is gearing up to reboot The Matrix, and many people have taken that to mean the studio will bring back original characters like Neo, Trinity and Morpheus.
That’s not necessarily true.
The terms remake and reboot get thrown around together, and people often assume they mean the same thing. There is a pretty big distinction between the two, however, and it’s important to note that Warner Bros. isn’t planning on remaking the original film.
A good example of a remake is the most recent version of Beauty and the Beast. Although live-action, the film tells the exact same story and features the same characters. There have been slight changes made, but the essential parts of the story have been kept the same. The 2014 Godzilla film, however, is the definition of a reboot. Although the central theme is the same — the monster, Godzilla, is attacking humanity — the majority of characters are different, as is the setting and dialogue.
To recap: A reboot is defined by those in the industry as a complete rebranding of a specific title or IP. A remake is defined as a complete retelling of the same story and characters that a studio buys the rights to.
As far as we know, Warner Bros. isn’t intending to bring back Neo. The studio is eyeing Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Black Panther) to star in the lead role and sources say Warner Bros. is interested in exploring similar routes Lucasfilm took to make Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the upcoming, untitled Han Solo movie. Essentially, the new Matrix movie will exist in the same universe as the Matrix films, but won’t feature the main characters or tell those same stories.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because Warner Bros. has already done this. Warner Bros. released the animated film The Animatrix in 2003. The movie collected a series of short stories from within the Matrix universe, and told the story of the original war between humans and machines that led to the creation of the Matrix. It was a critical success, and has become one of the most beloved entries in the franchise. Although it wasn’t a reboot of the original film, it managed to explore the world the Wachowski siblings had created in the 1999 film and broaden it.
Based on the information we have, Warner Bros. is planning to do something along the same lines as The Animatrix for the reboot. It is, essentially, bringing back the IP and creating a new story for fans and newcomers to enjoy. This means it could focus on a younger version of a main character that exists outside of the main franchise’s storyline, or it could build out a movie on an asinine detail.
This is exactly what Rogue One did, and the untitled Han Solo story plans to do. It’s unclear at this time if Warner Bros. is interested in pursuing more than one movie in the Matrix universe, and chances are that will depend heavily on the success of the first movie.
Warner Bros. is currently in the early stages of development on the project, and as such, there is no estimated release window at this time.