News broke this week that Warner Bros, in their infinite wisdom, are looking to reboot the Matrix franchise. In true fanboy style, I’ve listed the reasons I don’t think this is a good idea or at least why there are much better ideas out there:
Lack of Wachowski involvement
According to the THR story the Wachowskis are not involved in either writing or directing, somewhat understandable given their cinematic offerings, Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending didn’t do too well critically or at the box office. That being said they have gained critical success with their recent Netflix show, Sense8, coming back this year for a second season. Sense8 was co-created with J. Michael Straczynski and it’s difficult to think of a better collaborator to help the Wachowskis world-build with a Matrix reboot. Currently it seems Zak Penn will write the new version and although Penn has some hits on his resume, X-Men 2 and Avengers Assemble, he also has some real stinkers, X-Men: The Last Stand and Elektra, would you want to take that chance with such a valuable farnchise?
Reboot vs Sequel/Prequel
The beauty of the Matrix is that it is an entire universe where anything is possible, which begs the question why would you reboot it when the well is far from dry? Many stories are possible, either before or after Neo, most of the actors are still available and would likely jump on-board if the conditions were right, which leads to the next point…
No Wachowskis means No Keanu
Keanu Reeves is the heart of the Matrix, both figuratively and literally, if his role as ‘The One’ is to be believed. Reeves has gone on record to say he would be involved in a new Matrix film but only if the Wachowskis are involved, this is a pretty big barrier to any sequel. ‘Hang on! Didn’t Neo die at the end?!’ you may find yourself saying and yes he did…kinda, he was more absorbed into the Matrix and the Oracle herself believed we would seem him again. Of course Reeves is not essential, the Matrix universe is interesting enough to survive without him but it seems like a missed opportunity to not involve him, especially when he would be interested and is still vital enough to reprise the role. Currently Michael B. Jordan is supposedly attached to star and although his star has risen pretty high in recent years, especially given his stand-out performance in Creed, Keanu still has it where it counts, just take a look at John Wick and the follow-up released last month.
It’s just too damn soon
The first Matrix film was released 18 years ago, that makes me feel real old and on the face of it seems a reasonable amount of time to have passed for a reboot of a guaranteed money spinner. But, the final Matrix film, The Matrix Revolutions, was released at the end of 2003 so we’re really only talking about 14 years since we were last uploaded to the digital realm. With reboots more common these days, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to plan a reboot based on this timeframe but The Matrix was a film of its time, it is for all intents and purposes the first (of many) modern superhero movies. When it was released there was nothing quite like The Matrix and although it holds that iconic place in cinematic history, things have moved on and a reboot would be much better-served given more time to attach itself to pop culture further away from where we are right now.
It’s all Connected
The smart money is to pull an Abrams, a la the 2009 Star Trek. If you’re going to reboot a franchise then do it in the way the fans will accept by paying homage to all that has gone before and freeing up your franchise to create something new. There is no doubt that the reason Warners want to do this is because they want some of what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has, the DC Extended Universe may be delivering financially for now but with the critical panning each film gets that’s only going to last for so long so why not hedge their bets with another massively popular connected universe with potential for crossovers a-plenty? A straight reboot doesn’t do that, it allows them to create something new but also has the potential to alienate the existing fan base, a soft reboot that ties the original with the new, although more difficult to pull off, could satisfy the old whilst giving us something new and exciting.