Why “The Matrix Resurrections” has a new Morpheus

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
morpheus matrix resurrections laurence fishburne yahya abdul-mateen
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As the fourth installment of one of the most iconic film series in Hollywood’s history opens in theaters today, fans will experience a new take on an old character.

For three “The Matrix” films in a row, actor Laurence Fishburne played the role of Morpheus, a leader of the resistance to slaveholding machines who guides Neo to fulfilling his destiny as the One. Yet, he wasn’t recast to reprise his famous role. Instead, director Lana Wachowski has cast actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Candyman”, “Watchmen”) to put a new spin on the character.

Some fans may be wondering why Wachowski chose to give the role of Morpheous to a different, younger actor, considering actors Keanu Reeves (Neo) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) have returned for “The Matrix Resurrections.” 

Apparently, Fishburne’s been out of the loop as well.

“I have not been invited,” he said in an interview with New York Magazine last summer. “You’d have to ask Lana Wachowski why, because I don’t have an answer for that,” he told Collider.

matrix resurrections yahya abdul-mateen

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II poses for a portrait on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, in New York. Abdul-Mateen has been named one of The Associated Press’ Breakthrough Entertainers of 2020. (Photo by Drew Gurian/Invision/AP)

Who is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II?

Yet, without spoiling the film, Abdul-Mateen II has hinted at the intention behind the switch up.

“This is definitely a different iteration of the character,” Abdul-Mateen recently told Entertainment Weekly. 

Interestingly, Abdul-Mateen only became an actor a few years ago after being fired from his job as a San Francisco city planner. If it hadn’t been for a friend’s suggestion at UC Berkeley, the architecture student may not have even ventured into the world of acting.

To be sure, fans seeking to dive into the nostalgia of the series will be happy to see comparisons between the fourth film and its original. As the trailer revealed, Morpheus once again offers Neo the choice between taking the red or blue pill. On top of that, there’s once again an action-packed fight scene between Morpheus and Neo.

New movie, new Morpheus

Yet, the character’s new actor, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, made it clear that in the world of the Matrix, normal rules don’t apply.

“Age, appearance, the things we identify as real, can be manipulated in that world. The Matrix is where anything is possible,” he said.

Evidently, the newest iteration of Morpheus is one created by Neo, which explains his younger appearance. Abdul-Mateen II also appeared to put respect on Laurence Fishburne’s name by clarifying that just because he’s playing a Morpheus, doesn’t mean it’s the same as Fishburne’s Morpheus.

“The Matrix Resurrections” is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max.

1 comment

David December 23, 2021 - 12:47 pm

Fishburne and Reeves were the two most important elements of the original Matrix. That the unceremoniously dumped one, but not the other, suggests to me that politics is involved. Perhaps Fishbourne had said something unflattering about transgenders (the Warchowskis are now sisters), or perhaps they just didn’t think an older black man would appeal to their audience, i.e., racism.

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