As one of the most influential sci-fi franchises in film history, the original Matrix trilogy has certainly left an impact. While audiences and critics are divided on the second and third movies, there's no doubt that the story of The Matrix as a whole is a well-remembered series that changed the face of cinema in its heyday. But although its ending was somewhat definitive, The Matrix Resurrections completely changes the way we view the ultimate fate of the main protagonist Neo (Keanu Reeves).
The original trilogy kicked off with Neo, a hacker who is often at odds with his own society. He is suddenly invited by a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) to visit a world beyond the one he knows. Once Neo truly awakens, he learns that the reality he lived in is actually a massive simulation known as the eponymous "Matrix," and is run by intelligent machines that use humans as a power source. Neo then joins the fight to save the remnants of humanity from the iron grip of the machines.
As of the third film, Revolutions, we thought that Neo's fight was over. But as it turns out, a new battle is about to break out, and Neo once again finds himself a part of the conflict. But how on earth did he even survive the first trilogy in the first place?
How is Neo still alive in the fourth 'Matrix' movie?
When we last left Neo, the battle between the humans of Zion and the machines had drawn to a close. In the final conflict, Neo faces off against Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), a former program of the Matrix who has gone rogue and begun to evolve. Though Agent Smith briefly overpowers him, Neo receives unexpected assistance from the machines. In one last act of desperation, Neo obtains enough energy to destroy Agent Smith and his army in one fell swoop.
From there, we are led to believe that Neo perishes in the final moments as the machines take his body away. The Oracle (Mary Alice) and the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) — two powerful beings who exist within the Matrix — discuss the troubling idea that the peace that Neo achieved may only be temporary. But the Oracle believes that Neo will appear again if he is ever needed again.
It turns out she was right. Twenty years after the events of the original trilogy, Neo is shown alive and well in Resurrections, albeit plugged back into the Matrix. While he's on a steady prescription of Blue Pills, he still questions the world around him and his place in it. As the trailers suggest, he will soon be brought right back out to join a whole new fight. But how did he survive the final conflict against Smith? Here are our theories.
Neo is a powerful entity known as "The One" within the Matrix. As the Architect confirmed in Reloaded, "The One" is an intentional design of the Matrix and is generated to keep the simulation from crashing. A new "One" is chosen every so often and is normally tasked to choose human survivors to repopulate humanity and keep the conflict going in an endless cycle. Neo, however, broke the rules of his intended programming and gained all sorts of new abilities in exchange.
Though the true scope of his powers can't be measured, he was powerful enough to save both Zion and the Matrix. As a recurring phenomenon who went against his programming (essentially becoming a rogue program himself), Neo might have been able to survive due to his heightened state as "The One." But the Matrix has evolved as well, and Neo must once again wake up to his limitless potential.
The Matrix Resurrections will release in theaters and HBO Max on December 22.