After the relative disappointments of The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, The Matrix 4 will see many of the franchise’s key creative members coming back for another statement. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Lambert Wilson are all returning to reprise their iconic roles under the tutelage of Lana Wachowski. But what about our iconic pill-offerer, unique shades-wearer, and literal teacher of Christ? Will Laurence Fishburne be returning to The Matrix 4 to reprise his indelible role as Morpheus? In an interview given with New York Magazine (via The Wrap), Fishburne gave an answer that I might call “an emphatic nope.”
Asked directly about his involvement (or lack thereof) in the upcoming sequel, Fishburne said this:
I have not been invited. Maybe that will make me write another play. I wish them well. I hope it’s great.
Yikes! Obviously we don’t have the benefit of “hearing the speaker’s intent,” but written out in this context, “I wish them well” is about as concisely “subtweety” a statement as one could make about this, bested perhaps only by the wild humble-flex of “Maybe that will make me write another play”. For the record, Fishburne’s 1997 play Riff Raff was adapted into a 2000 film that Fishburne directed called Once in the Life, and for Fishburne to write a theatrical production in response to not being cast in a film would be such a flex that all shirt sleeves would spontaneously burst in response.
Why wouldn’t we have a Morpheus in a Matrix 4? Technically, in the events of The Matrix Online, a 2005 MMORPG with an “official” storyline blessed by the Wachowskis, Morpheus is shot and killed. Perhaps Lana Wachowski is interested in honoring that. Perhaps her story, divorced of any previous Matrix‘s context, demands that Morpheus is not there. Or, perhaps, this is all a ruse. Perhaps Fishburne will show up, either in a sizable or cameo role, as Morpheus, and they want it all to be kept a surprise. I suppose we’ll all find out when we take the fourth red pill on April 1, 2022.