There's far more to the story of The Matrix than what we've seen on the big screen. The groundbreaking sci-fi film series features a sprawling and intricate narrative that takes place in two realities: the real world ruled by machines and a virtual simulation designed to pacify and incapacitate humans. But even with a fourth feature film on the way that continues the main story, there are plenty of spinoffs to be had. Take, for instance, The Animatrix.
The story of The Matrix follows Neo (Keanu Reeves). After discovering that his reality is an elaborate simulation crafted by malicious machines, he is recruited by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and a group of the few humans remaining as part of the ongoing resistance against the titular Matrix. Their fight thus far has spanned three movies, with a new film called The Matrix Resurrections ushering in a whole new battle.
Of course, a battle of this scale can't be contained by the films alone. The Animatrix shows fans a different side of the story they already know. But how canon is it to the franchise as a whole?
Is 'The Animatrix' canon?
Released in 2003, The Animatrix is an animated anthology film based on the original movies. The film compiles nine different animated short films, which are directed by several notable anime storytellers, including Shinichirō Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame. As the original creators of The Matrix, directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski also had a hand in writing and producing The Animatrix.
The film features a few of the original Matrix stars reprising their roles, including Keanu Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as fellow resistance fighter, Trinity. Other notable voices include Kevin Michael Richardson, Tara Strong, and James Arnold Taylor. The Animatrix stands at 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, higher than even the second and third Matrix movies.
The nine short films of The Animatrix are canon to the story. Each film depicts different historical events within the fictional universe. These include deep dives into the original war between humans and machines, side stories of different factions of resistance fighters, and origin stories for major characters in the original films.
For all intents and purposes, The Animatrix expands the world of the Matrix series in many ways, so you might want to add the anthology to your rewatch binge.
'The Animatrix' isn't the only canon spinoff.
Of course, a story as big as The Matrix isn't just told in movies. Several video games serve as prologues and even continuations of the main story. Enter the Matrix is a 2003 video game that takes place right before the events of The Matrix Revolutions and follows Resistance pilot Niobe. In 2005, the online game The Matrix Online was launched and takes place after the initial three movies.
The Matrix Resurrections will be released in theaters and HBO Max on Dec. 22. The first three films, as well as The Animatrix, are currently streaming on HBO Max.