The Matrix 4 Rewatch Guide: What To Watch, Read & Play

The Matrix franchise returns soon with The Matrix Resurrections, and here's a guide to which movies, comics, games, and animated shorts are canon and should be revisited. The Matrix franchise is only seen as a trilogy of sci-fi movies led by Keanu Reeves as Neo to the general public. It is this story that audiences are excited to see continue when The Matrix Resurrections releases in theaters and on HBO Max at the end of 2021. With the franchise starting more than 20 years ago, most are likely planning to start or in the middle of a Matrix rewatch to prepare for its return.

The fourth Matrix movie sees Lana Wachowski return to direct, and it is expected to impact significantly what audiences understand about the franchise's mythology. Whether it is the returns of Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), despite their deaths in The Matrix Revolutions, bringing back familiar characters like Niobe (Jada Pinkett-Smith), or using a young Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Matrix 4 is sure to surprise in regards to its connections to the previous movies. However, the Matrix canon extends far beyond the trilogy that came before. The Wachowskis spearheaded the creation of various shorts, comics, and games in the franchise. However, the different types of additional materials and the Wachowskis' desire to give other creators creative freedom meant the Matrix canon became a bit unruly as it progressed.

Related: The Matrix 4 Is Making Neo and Trinity Even More Powerful

While fanbases of different IPs have long obsessed over continuity, the Matrix franchise came at a time before the canon of a franchise became nearly as important as the stories being told. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example, has largely thrived on keeping everything in a single continuity. However, there are questions about plot holes and the timeline with almost every new MCU movie or show. The Matrix canon is closer to how Star Wars movies operated before Disney took over. The Expanded Universe gave creators the freedom to build on the original trilogy in incredible and bizarre ways. That puts those wanting to revisit everything from the Matrix canon before The Matrix Resurrections in a difficult spot of determining what is and isn't canon. Here's our guide to which movies, games, comics, and shorts must be included in a before-you-watch Matrix 4 recap.

Due to the underperformance of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, many wondered if The Matrix Resurrections would ignore the sequels. Doing so would effectively erase the two movies from the franchise's canon, which Matrix 4's synopsis seemingly teased. It mentioned that the new film is a continuation of the original Matrix and did not mention the sequels. The concern that Matrix Resurrections retcons the last two sequels appears to be an overreaction, as the movie's trailer references events from them. Furthermore, the apparent storyline where the original Matrix movie exists in Matrix 4's world supports theories that this new Thomas Anderson is a former movie star who previously starred in The Matrix and its sequels in-universe.

For this reason, those committing to a Matrix rewatch before The Matrix Resurrections should include the two sequels. All the details might not line up due to Matrix 4's story existing in a rebooted Matrix. However, the teases of Neo going blind and him and Trinity previously knowing each other indicate the sequels are still canon. It's also worth noting that Niobe and The Merovingian originally appeared in The Matrix Reloaded and returned for The Matrix Revolutions. Since both characters are returning in Matrix 4, their presence further supports that the sequels are canon. That means audiences will be best served to be familiar with what happened in the sequels, even if the new movie only indirectly references their events.

For those wanting to rewatch the original Matrix trilogy ahead of The Matrix Resurrections, the good news is there are multiple options to do just that. Viewers who already own the movies on DVD, Blu-Ray, or 4K have direct access to them, but those who don't can stream them in multiple ways. All three Matrix movies are currently available on HBO Max since they are Warner Bros. movies, and the original Matrix trilogy is also now streaming on Hulu. Both of these options require subscriptions to the streaming services to watch them. It is also possible to buy or rent each Matrix film through online retailers like Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and Vudu.

Related: How The Matrix Has Changed In Matrix Resurrections - Theory Explained

Developed by the Wachowskis, The Animatrix is a series of nine short films set within the Matrix franchise. It was released in 2003 as a single movie that combined all the shorts into an anthology presentation. The shorts are widely considered canon, even though some of their elements contradict what happens in the movies. Since the shorts Final Flight of the Osiris and Kid's Story were written by the Wachowskis, those are firmly entrenched as canon materials. The same is true of Second Renaissance, considering it is a retelling of the Bits and Pieces of Information comic the Wachowskis made.

As for the six other Animatrix shorts, their canonicity varies depending on the viewer's preferences. A Detective Story is connected to Trinity's story and serves as a prequel to The Matrix, and it works well with what the movies present. However, the shorts BeyondMatriculatedProgram, and World Record happen either after The Matrix Revolutions or at an unspecified place in the timeline. This makes their places in the canon up for interpretation, and the events of Matrix 4 could ultimately decide their fates. For those who want to rewatch The Animatrix or see the shorts for the first time, they are streaming on HBO Max.

Early on in the Matrix franchise's conception, the Wachowskis also had the idea to create comics set in this world. They were initially released exclusively on the official Matrix website in 1999, but new comics continued to be developed and published for free in this fashion through 2003. There were over 20 comics published during this time, which were later collected as two printed volumes and another 20th anniversary special physical print. These comics are similarly mostly considered canon, with the Wachowskis' Bits and Pieces of Information widely thought to be the most official canon material of the bunch. Except for Matrix parodies Get It? and Who Says You Can't Get Good Help These Days?, every other comic, aside from Goliath, is thought of as canon.

In terms of which Matrix comics are best to read leading up to The Matrix Resurrections, the Wachowskis' Bits and Pieces of Information is the best place to start. It tells the story of what is believed to be the first sign of the AI revolution as a butler robot kills its owners. Otherwise, those interested in taking a deeper dive into the comics could start with everything collected in The Matrix Comics: 20th Anniversary Edition. This does include Neil Gaiman's Goliath, which diverges completely from the Matrix world and tells a story of a man sent to space to fend off an alien invasion, and probably isn't factoring into the franchise's canon.

Related: The Matrix 4 Can't Just Ignore The Sequels (Despite Them Being Bad)

The franchise also expanded with three different Matrix video gamesEnter the MatrixThe Matrix: Path of Neo, and The Matrix Online. As far as their canonicity is concerned, Enter the Matrix and The Matrix: Path of Neo are more firmly part of the canon, while The Matrix Online might be as well at first. Enter the Matrix's story takes place before and during The Matrix Reloaded and includes multiple live-action cut scenes directed by the Wachowskis featuring the actors from the movies. It follows Niobe, Ghost, and Sparks, although only Niobe and Ghost were playable characters. Meanwhile, Path of Neo is essentially a retelling of the Matrix trilogy from Neo's perspective with a few additional sequences. As for The Matrix Online, the online multiplayer game was meant to continue the story after the original Matrix movies. Since the players' actions impact the world, the online game shouldn't be considered canon.

Those who haven't already played any of the Matrix games have limited options for playing them ahead of Matrix 4Enter the Matrix was released on PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, so hard copies of those discs can be purchased, but the game isn't accessible online or digitally. The Matrix: Path of Neo was also released on PC, PlayStation 2, and Xbox in 2005. Similarly, it can be played with a physical disc on its original consoles but otherwise is unavailable. Unfortunately, The Matrix Online is completely inaccessible now as Warner Bros. and Sega shut down the serves in 2009. Gamers looking to enter the franchise ahead of The Matrix Resurrections are mostly out of luck, unless rumors of a new PS5 game prove to be true.

More: Original Matrix Trilogy Is A Video Game In Resurrections - Theory Explained

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