The Matrix franchise has returned with its first sequel since The Matrix Revolutions was released in 2003. In late 2021, WarnerMedia aims to release The Matrix Resurrections (Matrix 4) on HBO Max and in theatres at the same time. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprised their roles in this film. Lana Wachowski is back in the director’s chair.
Lana co-wrote and directed the first trilogy with her sister Lilly.
We’ve put together a viewing order guide for all of the Matrix films and animated shorts to help you get caught up on the entire franchise.
We’ve also organized them by date so you can keep track of what’s going on. Because the animated shorts don’t contain their numbers in the titles, we inform you where to put them. At the bottom of this page is a spoiler-free version of our tutorial.
The film of The Matrix in a sequence of release
This section contains spoilers.
The Matrix is a science fiction film that was released in the United States (1999)
Keanu Reeves stars as Thomas “Neo” Anderson, a computer hacker in the first Matrix film. When Neo is unexpectedly abducted by mystery agents demanding that he lead them to the location of a terrorist known as Morpheus, Neo begins to notice that things in his world are not as they appear (Laurence Fishburne). Morpheus, on the other hand, frees Neo and gives him a choice: take the blue pill and wake up tomorrow believing it was all a dream, or take the red pill and learn the truth.
Animatrix is optional (2003)
The Animatrix is a nine-short animated film (four of which were written by the Wachowskis) set in The Matrix Universe. Between the second and third Matrix feature films, it was originally distributed.
The nine stories take place at various points in The Matrix Universe, making them difficult to situate in our timeframe. The first short in the Animatrix serves as a direct precursor to the events of The Matrix Reloaded, the following film on our list, which is why we’ve included it here. The remaining shorts may not completely match into this timeframe, but knowing the first Matrix film helps first-time viewers understand the Universe.
There are two shorts that highlight Keanu Reeves’ Neo and one that depicts the struggle between man and machine that ultimately destroys the Earth. Both are entertaining to watch, although understanding some of the background information helps.
Reloaded Matrix (2003)
To wrap up the original trilogy, two sequels to the first Matrix film were released, both in 2003.
The sequel, Reloaded, was released in May 2003, six months after the events of the original film. It centers on the machines’ quest to wipe out Zion, the final human metropolis. Meanwhile, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), the antagonist from the previous film, is not only alive but has experienced significant transformations as a result of his encounter with Neo in The Matrix.
Revolutions of the Matrix (2003)
The Matrix Revolutions was released in December 2003, bringing the original Matrix trilogy to a close. Like the previous two films, it is written and directed by The Wachowskis.
It picks up right after Reloaded ends. By integrating Bane’s body, Agent Smith, who had his connection to the Matrix destroyed by Neo, has grown even more powerful and found his way into the real world (Ian Bliss). Meanwhile, Neo has been imprisoned in the Matrix’s version of purgatory, prompting Trinity and Morpheus to seek to rescue him.
Resurrecting the Matrix (2021)
If you’ve made it this far during your rewatch, you’re aware that (SPOILER ALERT) the franchise’s two primary heroes are both killed at the end of The Matrix Revolutions. Neo and Trinity gave their lives to preserve humanity’s freedom and put an end to the man-machine conflict.
With Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss reprising their roles in Resurrections, those deaths seem a tad overblown.
Jada Pinkett Smith reprises her role as Niobe from the original films, and Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff, and Priyanka Chopra are among the newcomers to the series.
It’s a whirlwind of a film that completely changes your perception of the Matrix, and it’s a fantastic reward for returning fans.