Revisiting the Trans Metaphors, Fashion, and Horny Action of the Original Matrix Trilogy

For months, Drew and I were like “should we rewatch the original Matrix trilogy and write about it,” and folks we have finally done it! It didn’t go exactly according to plan. I haven’t been back to a movie theater since before the pandemic, and I’d built up a big fantasy return. I wanted Matrix Resurrections to be my First Movie Back. It felt fitting. Like going back into the Matrix. But then, you know, Omicron had other plans. So I haven’t actually seen Matrix Resurrections at all (but I did love Drew’s wonderful and spoiler-free review!), and I feel like I’m missing out on something special!!!!!

But even though I haven’t seen the new movie, I still wanted to return to the Matrix. I still wanted to go down this little retrospective journey with Drew, especially because I knew she and I are both famously defenders of the oft-scorned sequels! I was struck by how well the movies, and especially the first, continue to hold up. I felt surprised over and over by scenes and sequences I’ve seen dozens of times. The magic of the Matrix! I felt genuinely transported.


The Matrix (1999)

Trinity and Neo in The Matrix

Kayla: Okay, before we delve into the first movie, I wanted to start here: When and where did you first watch this movie? My introduction to The Matrix happened at a high school sleepover with three other girls, in my friend’s basement. It was probably 2007. This particular friend had a very strict mother, but for some reason that strictness did not extend to movies? Which was basically the opposite of my parents. My parents weren’t super strict but for some reason WERE when it came to what I could watch, so I wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies at home. At sleepovers though…all bets were off! So we ended up watching The Matrix at this particular sleepover, and we were all so obsessed (I think only the sleepover host had seen it before) that we watched the sequel…and then the third. So I watched the first movie for the first time on the same night I watched the ENTIRE original trilogy. It was like how the characters get to just automatically download skills into their brains in the movie…I basically just downloaded these films into my brain all in the span of one night. And I don’t think it was until this most recent rewatch of the first movie that I realized how much the trilogy informed my film interests for the rest of my life?? Does that sound dramatic lol!

Drew: Oh wow!! That is such a relatable adolescent experience to me — watching like three movies in one night and then suddenly having a new personality.

My parents were also strict about R-rated movies and by “strict” I mean when I was like 9 or 10 I presented them with the AFI 100 and was like “Hello, parents, it appears a movie called The Godfather is one of the best movies ever and I would like to see all the best movies ever” and they fought me for like two years before giving up. Look, being a parent is hard, but I do find it funny how tied my parents were to the MPAA. There’s such a vast difference in R-rated movies and looking back I probably should not have seen some of the movies I watched in middle school. Anyway, it all started with The Matrix.

We had some neighbor family friends with kids a few years older than my sister and I and their son was this nerdy boy who loved sci-fi and train sets. He insisted I had to watch The Matrix and my parents found him more convincing than me. And that’s how it became my first R-rated movie! I rented it from Blockbuster and was truly blown away.

I remember the day after I watched it, I sat my dad down to show him the hotel lobby action scene and my dad had this look on his face like he was maybe a bad parent. But to me it wasn’t about the guns! I didn’t even register it as violent because the Matrix is fake and the action so stylized. It reminded me of how I felt when I first watched the performance scene in The Red Shoes. I was in awe of the choreography and cinema of it all.

What do you think it was about these movies that immediately gripped you in the way that they did?

Kayla: On the surface level, it really was the choreography and action. I hadn’t been dazzled by action like that since probably Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (done by the same fight choreographer!). I mean that slow-mo kick Trinity does in the first like FIVE MINUTES? I was like oh shit, buckle in, here we go. This is gonna sound weird lol but fight scenes were like my first sex scenes? Again, I wasn’t allowed to watch certain stuff — and definitely not sexual stuff. So I was very horny for fight scenes? I don’t think I would have identified it that way back then obviously lol but I really think there was almost an attraction to stylized action! Like you said, I was in awe of the choreography and cinema of it all! And was undeniably turned on by it? LOL.

Drew: Okay, well it helps that Keanu and Carrie-Anne are both SO HOT. Sure, sure, get turned on by the cinema of it all, but also… God Keanu is pretty in this.

Kayla: SO HOT! I also realized almost all of Carrie-Anne’s lines in this movie are whispered? I love a breathy utterance! Gives me goosebumps! On a slightly deeper level than just the action, I can’t remember if it was an explicit or subconscious connection I had in my first viewing experience, but upon rewatching, the moment where Agent Smith says to Neo “It seems you’ve been living two lives. In one life, you’re Thomas A. Anderson … The other life is lived in computers”…….that was 100% me from like 2006-2014. I had my real life and my computer (aka tumblr) life.

Drew: YES!! The two lives thing is such an obvious metaphor for being closeted but taken literally a lot of us who were closeted — and some straight people I guess — often had totally separate virtual lives. I know I did. (Shoutout to The Auteurs forum 2007-2011.)

Every time I’ve revisited the first movie since coming out, I find it pretty comical. The fact that so many trans writers have written in-depth pieces analyzing The Matrix as a trans allegory is proof of the cisnormativity of our world. Because ummm of course?? It has the subtlety of a slap in the face. Obviously subtext is a big part of being trans and connecting with the first century of cinema, but I’m delighted by how little work it takes to map obvious trans feelings onto what is undoubtedly one of the greatest action movies — greatest movies period — ever made.

Kayla: This was my first rewatch in a few years actually. I somehow forgot how much body horror is in the movie. Again, I do feel like this movie informed a lot of my film tastes for the rest of my life, and I’ve always been drawn to body horror. It’s so simple and almost goofy but Neo’s lips gluing shut early on in the interrogation with Agent Smith? TERRIFYING.

Drew: I think one of the reasons this movie has become such a cultural touchstone is because of the images it created. Sure, there are the outfits and bullet time. But I also think those body horror images you’re talking about burn really brightly in our collective consciousness. The lips gluing shut! The tracker in Neo’s stomach! Even the sweat on Morpheus as he resists the agents.

Kayla: I also love the use of reflections as a recurring visual device in the movie. It’s so much a movie about identity and uncovering hard truths about reality and also the self. Neo has to be told he isn’t The One in order to really become The One. Meanwhile, throughout the entire movie, we see people’s reflections — in mirrors, lenses, spoons, glass, etc. I love that. The Wachowskis know how to tell a visual story that’s for sure.

Drew: I think accepting the movie as a trans metaphor allows us to go beyond it. Transness becomes the metaphor. So you’re right it really is more broadly about identity and facing truths about reality. Something that’s lost when we think of representation as purely who’s in front of the camera is that more nuanced visual storytelling. What aspects beyond the story itself illuminate the experience being portrayed? This isn’t just a trans movie because of obvious metaphors, this isn’t just an identity movie because it’s about transness — it’s every element combined that creates a work of art that hits viscerally on all these different levels.

Kayla: I feel like it’s also worth noting the romance in this movie. It’s not like some huge part of the story in the sense that it takes up a lot of screen-time, but it is narratively significant. Because of The Oracle’s predictions, Trinity knows Neo is The One, because she’s falling in love with him, and she knows she’s in love with him…because he is The One. And I mean, I’m not really trying to get into like Soulmate Discourse at all lol but I do think the sci-fi genre grapples with this idea of cosmic love a lot, and I think The Matrix’s approach to it is somewhat complex and interesting! Like, Neo is not The One for Trinity. He’s The One for HUMANITY. But then also there’s this undeniable chemistry between them. Their values are aligned. They help each other realize their full potential. They’re both hot. A match made in heaven!

Drew: Watching all four films together really underlines the fact these films are about love. The Wachowskis are corny! In the best way! And I really like that these films about identity and truth and revolution return again and again to love. Yes, the love between Neo and Trinity, but also the mentor/mentee love of Morpheus and Neo. The love they all have for humanity.

Kayla: YES exactly they ARE corny!!! And I wouldn’t go so far as to call The Matrix camp but it IS easy to…turn it into camp. Like my friends and I in high school “rebelled” against our school’s designated “spirit days” that had themes we deemed boring like “team spirit” and “pajama day” and instead we dressed up in The Matrix costumes (we did “entering The Matrix costumes one day so like pleather, trench coats, all black etc and then “onboard the Nebuchadnezzar” a different day so like ripped up neutral clothes). THAT WAS CAMP.

Drew: I love how every story about you as a kid is exactly what I would expect from you as a kid.


The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

MONICA BELLUCCI with, in the background, (l-r:) CARRIE-ANNE MOSS, RANDALL DUK KIM, LAURENCE FISHBURNE and KEANU REEVES in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Village Roadshow PicturesÕ provocative futuristic action thriller "The Matrix Reloaded"

MONICA BELLUCCI with, in the background, (l-r:) CARRIE-ANNE MOSS, RANDALL DUK KIM, LAURENCE FISHBURNE and KEANU REEVES in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ and Village Roadshow PicturesÕ provocative futuristic action thriller “The Matrix Reloaded”

Kayla: Okay, I’m excited for us to transition into the sequels, because part of why we decided to do this retrospective in the first place is because we both actually like the sequels, which is not the…dominant narrative about the sequels. I remember people being mad that Neo could just fly away from things???? But like the first movie ends with him flying! You gotta then deliver on that and make him full goth Superman in the next film, no?

Drew: It’s interesting, because growing up the general consensus was that the sequels were awful. I remember an interview with Tarantino where he said The Matrix would have been his favorite movie of the 90s if the sequels hadn’t RUINED it for him. But now that most of my friends are queer and now that my touchstones of culture go far beyond Tarantino, I’ve found that liking the sequels isn’t THAT rare. Which is exciting to me!

I’ve even seen some people claim Reloaded is better than the original which… well, I don’t go that far. But I’m glad it has more defenders than it used to.

Kayla: While certainly not the BEST Matrix movie, Reloaded is undeniably the horniest. You can see some of the DNA here for what would eventually become Sense8, especially in that famous Zion dance party sequence. And we get the only actual sex scene of the ENTIRE franchise in this movie.

Drew: So I know you watched all three in one night, but it actually took me awhile to convince my parents to let me watch Reloaded. Okay awhile in middle school time was probably like two weeks, but still! And it was because of the sex scene! The movie is rated R for “some sexuality” and that was a sticking point for my parents. I finally convinced them to let me watch it because my friend Josh promised that it was only one scene and we would fast forward through it. Which we did!!!

Now that’s actually something that frustrates me about the series. The Wachowskis are so good at filming sex scenes (yes, Sense8, also Bound) and I wish the world of The Matrix had more sex! One of the worst segments in The Animatrix is super horny but not in the well-done Wachowski sort of way. Lol

Do you think the horniness of the sequel was part of why it was initially maligned? Or do you blame that more on the fact that it is admittedly very narratively and intellectually ambitious?

Kayla: Honestly, yeah I think the horniness could be a factor! Because it’s also horniness intermingled with that corniness we were talking about with the first movie. And I can see (incorrect) people being like “none of this has any place in an action/sci-fi” movie. I do wonder if backlash to Reloaded is WHY we don’t get sex scenes in future movies???

Also omg I can’t believe you had to fast-forward it! Did you still catch glimpses of things in fast-motion lol?

Drew: Yes, and because it goes on for so long I saw quite a bit and I was such a goody two shoes I remember feeling VERY guilty.

Kayla: Oh believe me, I felt guilty watching it lol. And deeply uncomfortable watching it with those friends of mine. I think someone in the group said something about nipples, and I wanted to DIE!!!! Listen, shame is definitely inextricable from some of my early experiences of art.

A lot of people around my age cite this movie as their FIRST sex scene actually! It wasn’t mine — mine was, bizarrely, the movie Spanglish. But this sex scene is like burned in my brain. I think there’s something very intimate and sexy about the camera focusing on the cable holes in their bodies. It’s a good combo of emotional vulnerability and hotness (Carrie-Anne and Keanu really do just get hotter and hotter, don’t they?). Also like the simplest distillation of this series’ plot is Humans Vs. Machines, and idk, I like these little reminders of the human body! Like you mentioned the sweat on Morpheus in the first movie, and that’s another example of raw humanity. The fight scenes are always like these big displays of impossible movement, so when we get these little pops of REAL human bodies, it kinda reminds you what’s at stake!

Drew: And not to belabor the trans metaphor of it all but I also like this blending of the real human bodies with the machine. The cable holes become sensual in a human context — it doesn’t matter that technically they’re artificial.

Kayla: Yes! A great point! I don’t even think of them being machine parts really. They’re just a part of them.

This sequel does the thing I think all sequels should do: It follows through on things set up in the past (Zion is teased in the first movie), maintains the aesthetics of the first, mimics some of the strengths of the first, but then really, really expands things. We have more characters (HELLO NIOBE); we have more sets; we have a lot more pieces of the puzzle.

Drew: I totally agree. The Matrix is a great standalone movie but this sequel is so expansive yet linked to the original that it feels as if it was always inevitable.

Something that always shocks me every time I rewatch the original is how many characters are killed! I think because big movies are created with the goal of sequels that level of death would just never happen now! So this movie was tasked with not only expanding the world but also creating entirely new supporting characters for us to quickly care about. For me, it mostly succeeds.

Kayla: Where does it not succeed for you on that character level?

Drew: It’s less about any one character not working and more that the story gets split. I actually feel really invested in Niobe and Link and all the other new characters. It just lacks the tightness of the original because our story is split between our original trio and the new characters of Zion. (This becomes more of an issue in Revolutions than it does here though…)

Kayla: I also think you’re right that it was so narratively and intellectually ambitious, which can sometimes backfire. A thing I like about this movie (that I could maybe see others not liking) is how many scenes there are of two characters just sort of…talking. And often abstractly! You don’t see that a whole lot in most blockbusters these days tbh! It always has to be action action action. And Reloaded has the action, but it also slows way way down sometimes, and it packages exposition in kind of weird, drawn-out ways that are ultimately more interesting than just condensing a plot explanation into a single line. Like the whole thing with The Merovingian and his vengeful horny wife????? What a tangent! But it’s v textured exposition of the movie’s mythology.

Drew: This whole series is nerdy and philosophical and the sequels really increase in those regards. But also yeah some of the subplots involve horny Monica Belluci so why are people complaining??

Kayla: As a hot and horny nerd and intellectual I FEEL SEEN lol jk. But this is definitely why I’ve loved connecting with other queer nerds about these movies, because we tend to like all of its parts equally.


The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

Neo and Mr. Smith punching each other in the rain in "The Matrix Revolutions"

Kayla: BOLD that these sequels came out within six months of each other??? What was up with that? My friend at the high school sleepover said the sequels were shot consecutively and then it was just kinda arbitrarily decided where to split them (based more on runtime than actual narrative beats) and like is that true I never fact checked her lol.

Drew: I love that as a made up thing your friend said at a sleepover but I can’t imagine that’s true considering there’s actually a really nice symmetry between the first two in my opinion. The first ends with Trinity saving Neo. The second ends with Neo saving Trinity. And the third ends with them “dying” together.

Kayla: Okay right, the trilogy is a lot smoother than my friend’s weird made up story suggests lmao. Imo, this Matrix movie is the most…Star Warsy, which I don’t even mean disparagingly because, well, I’m a big Star Wars fan. But does that make sense?

Drew: Oh ABSOLUTELY. Going back to what I was talking about before, the split storylines feels very Star Wars especially when one of the storylines has so much big sci-fi battle action.

Kayla: I think part of people’s aversion to this sequel is that so much of it focuses on characters who aren’t Neo or Trinity, but like that’s cool! Trinity and Neo are fantastic action heroes, but the expansion of The Matrix’s universe and scope in these sequels is a huge part of their appeal to me. It can’t be just Trinity and Neo. The best sci-fi narratives and driven by ensembles imo.

Drew: I feel torn on this because I agree with you and also still agree with the consensus that this sequel is probably the weakest. But I also feel like that assessment is a product of film culture where we’re supposed to rank movies! Like no this isn’t as good as the original or even the other sequels but I still think it’s great and such an effective conclusion to the initial trilogy!

Kayla: Yeah I do feel that. Reloaded definitely does more for me.

So I’m glad you brought up horny Monica Belluci earlier. Because something I was thinking about a lot during Revolutions is how good the Wachowskis are at collaging together different genres. Like maybe it’s obvious but The Matrix is so much more than a sci-fi action movie. Sense8 also snakes between different genres and stylizations, too. Which brings me to this: The Merovingian has VAMPIRE VIBES lol especially in his Revolutions scenes. And that might be partially because I associate Belluci with Dracula lol, but right??? I feel like Revolutions has like a dozen different cinematic worlds.

Drew: The Matrix sets up a world where reality can be bent. I love that the Wachowskis used that to really play in the sequels. Sci-Fi/Fantasy just has that little slash to separate the genres and yet they’re so often split! Not for the Wachowskis. There’s a magic to their worlds even as they also like to delve into deep philosophical sci-fi.

Kayla: Yes! There’s a playfulness to the sequels and room for strangeness.

Drew: I think it’s funny that the general consensus is the sequels were bad but then the cultural memories of The Matrix is actually from all three. Obviously the car chase and fight with multiple Smiths in Reloaded but also the fight in the rain and so much Zion stuff from this film. It’s as if the original film has sucked up the best aspects of the sequels in people’s memories. It really is wild we never see Zion in the original film considering how deeply it’s tied to Matrix mythology and imagery.

Kayla: Right! I actually had forgotten we don’t see Zion until the second movie until this rewatch. And even though bullet time is such an iconic image from the first, some of the most memorable action sequences actually happen in the sequels. There are some really lovely movie magic moments in both. I really did marvel at the way I was still dazzled by these fight scenes and stunts. It felt like watching them the first time did. I feel like I time-traveled back to that high school sleepover! The power of The Matrix lol.


Where were you when you first saw the Matrix movies, and how did it make you feel? Should Drew and Kayla keep revisiting movies from their youths and chat about it? Let us know in the comments!


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Kayla

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Miami. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 341 articles for us.

Drew Gregory

Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Thrillist, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew has written 222 articles for us.

23 Comments

  1. Thank you for this rewatch conversation!! My boo and I also just rewatched all 3 ahead of watching the 4th and THEY ARE SO GOOD. Like, I was too young to quite appreciate all of what was going on the first time around – especially the beautiful, corny, sweet love story.

    On the subject of being mortified by sex scenes: My mom is a huge sci-fi nerd. I’m pretty sure she was so excited about the first Matrix, she had me watch that so I could attend the midnight premiere with her of the 2nd one. When I was 13. I think my best guy friend came too.

    THE HORROR OF WITNESSING SEXY ZION SITTING NEXT TO MY MOTHER IN A ROOM FULL OF RED PILL NERDBROS AT 13.

    That is all.

  2. Can’t wait to read this. Like herekitty, my partner and I rewatched the original trilogy before going in for Matrix 4.

    I really came away from the original 3 feeling like 2 and 3 would be be REALLY AMAZING if they were each 30 mins shorter. and if the CGI they had access to was better.

    i thought matrix 4 was cool, though. and a really cool spin on the reboot/sequel idea. and the ending??? well, i wanna read what y’all say so i won’t say anything here lol

  3. Here to out myself as someone who is 31 and had never seen The Matrix until October 2021! I then watched Reloaded and Revolutions back to back in December and Resurrections two weeks ago so similar to Kayla, I really just downloaded all these movies into my brain! It was really wild to see something that has obviously been referenced and parodied to death and realize that the original actually holds up better than you imagined. This movie came out in 1999 and honestly looks better than 90% of action/sci-fi today. I’m glad you mentioned being able to see the DNA of Sense8 in Reloaded because I felt the same way. Maybe that’s why I didn’t mind the corniness of the sequels, because my first experiences with the Wachowskis were Jupiter Ascending and Sense8? I honestly love how earnest and horny the Wachowskis are, we need more sex in sci-fi!

  4. This was really fun to read. I saw the first 3 Matrix movies in the theater, on opening day. I’m really sad that I couldn’t do that for the 4th.

    I saw The Matrix in 1999, on opening day. I didn’t know much about it but one of my buddies wanted to see it and since he and I had similar tastes in SFF movies, I agreed to go without asking any questions. I still remember standing with my little group of friends, waiting to be let into the theater, and being like “um, why aren’t there any other women going to see this movie? what exactly kind of movie are we about to see?” And then the movie started and I was BLOWN AWAY! I talked it up with everyone. I think I hand-sold the movie to like half a dozen friends who thought it was just some kind of nerd-bro movie.

    I loved and defended II and III.

    A friend bought some sort of DVD set with the directors commentary and we hosted a group of friends to come over and watch the philosopher’s cut – Cornell West and Ken Wilber talking over the first 3 movies.

    I haven’t watched IV yet and I’m of two minds whether to watch the first three movies first or after

      • Yeah, it’s one of the very few times in my life that I got in on the ground floor of a pop culture phenomenon and it was more or less by accident.

        It’s hard to explain what it was like seeing it in 1999 – I really had this sense of wonder, like WOW, I’ve never seen anything like this before.

        I mean you and Drew also talk about that amazement at seeing it the first time and maybe everyone has this, but I do feel like there was something about seeing it when it was such a surprise – because not only had *I* never seen something like it before but *no one* had, because it was totally new.

      • I can’t remember the correct term for those DVD extras – philosophers’ commentary is probably more correct than philosophers’ cut. But yes, such a Wachowskis move – they’re so sincere. And both philosopher commentators were so into the movie as well as the spiritual metaphors – I barely remember anything they said but I do remember that.

        Oh, except that they said something like the Matrix represents the mind, Zion and the physical world represents the body and the machine world represents spirit and I still don’t think the machine world works as a metaphor for spirit.

  5. I was watching Resurrections with my husband last week and I told him as I realized it myself, The Matrix helped save my life.

    In the darkest moments of my life, I was able to turn to The Matrix and it gave me hope. It’s more complicated than that but The Matrix is so special to me and always will be.

    I saw The Matrix in middle school and enjoyed it but didn’t get into the fandom until I saw Reloaded, which I saw three times in theaters. I love how pivotal the love story is to Reloaded and it resonated with me as I went through my first heartbreak.

    Reloaded also helped me realize I was queer when I recognized that part of my utter admiration for Trinity is that I had (and continue to have) a huge crush on her.

    I liked Revolutions but I do think it’s the weakest of the franchise. Resurrections reminded me why I love this franchise so much as well as the relationship between Neo and Trinity.

    Thank you for this round table. I’d like to see more! I was especially able to relate to this one but would be curious about others.

  6. This article was great!

    I saw The Matrix freshman year of high school, in theaters (not sure how my parents let me do that – they were also super strict!).

    In retrospect, there are two things that stand out to me:

    1) Switch. This was the first time I remember seeing an androgynous person being portrayed positively, as a strong and valued member of a team. Also I shipped Trinity/Switch before I even understood what shipping was.

    2) Star Wars Episode 1 came out two months after the Matrix, and I had been SO excited because I loved Star Wars. But I think part of the reason that movie fell so flat was that I had just seen this scifi universe that really spoke to me (maybe in the way that Star Wars spoke to people in 1977) and the Phantom Menace just felt really hollow by comparison.

    • I remember reading somewhere recently that Switch was originally intended to be one (apparent) gender in the real world and a different one in the Matrix but that that had gotten nixed. Were there any characters like that this time? I meant to watch for it but I was tired and things went so fast if there were I missed it.

  7. My husband and I also just rewatched the first three before watching 4. I liked them the first time but not enough to remember them as anything more than fun movies. This time I was like wow! These are fantastic! I love them!

    It’s amazing what watching with eyes open for queer interpretations will do to improve a movie. (I knew I was bi when the first one came out but it didn’t occur to me to see anything queer going on. Hot guy, hot girl, lots of guns and violence = standard big-budget action movie, right?) I remembered thinking the first time that the Zion rave was just really strange like why are we spending so much time on this, I guess we’re just stretching out the Neo/Trinity sex scene with some filler?? Give the horny young men who are the obvious intended audience some extra hot bodies to look at? This time I saw it as the heart of a message about queer joy: insisting on celebration even when, especially when, you believe you’re soon to be annihilated. That celebration deserves as much attention as other parts of the story.

    I noticed more this time too how many of the women had authority that they explicitly claimed without pushback. Trinity says she’ll accompany Neo because she’s the ranking officer, and he accepts. Niobe tells Rowland don’t-even-dare interfere or criticize how she runs her ship, and he doesn’t. It annoys me that this is something worth comment! But it helps the movies hold up.

    Re: your discussion of focus on Trinity & Neo vs. other characters, I felt like that fit in with the emphasis on questioning whether Neo really is The One, and even in the fourth movie him being like “I never believed it.” I thought they were questioning the whole idea of a single foretold/anointed savior who fixes everything. Sure, Neo has fancy abilities, but if everyone else hadn’t done their parts, he couldn’t have done his, and the story isn’t over once he’s done his thing. In this vein I really like Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston which grapples with the same idea in a climate-change narrative.

    Also, not to brag (totally to brag), but near the end of 4 when they’re on the rooftop surrounded by helicopters I was like, “Time for Trinity to get some superpowers.” 😎

    Did Bugs and Lexy get more than a background out-of-focus hasty embrace? Clearly I need to watch 4 again.

  8. “The Merovingian has VAMPIRE VIBES” YES!!!! yes! i literally thought that during my rewatch too lmao

    really enjoyed the article! 💕 these truly were such formative movies for me

  9. Thank you Kayla and Drew! I’ve never seen the sequels (mostly because of the initial general consensus about them) but now I’m actually excited to check them out!

    I actually saw the original in theaters. My mom took me and my two sisters back in 99 (I was 8 lol) and it blew our minds so spectacularly that we ended up seeing it 2 more times within the same night lol

    Was is it responsible? Who can say!? But it was definitely one of my fondest childhood memories lol I was truly hoping to take my mom to see Resurrections in theaters but sadly it wasn’t meant to be.

    We at least got to see Resurrections virtually together on HBO Max over FaceTime which is maybe more fitting for a Matrix film!

  10. A very minor note in this excellent conversation but, Drew I feel so seen re: the parental movie oversight while trying to watch your way through the AFI 100 list 😂😵 For some reason my parents were also super hung up about The Godfather and decided I had to be 14 (?) in order to watch it. 🤷‍♀️

  11. I ADORE THIS.

    “Also like the simplest distillation of this series’ plot is Humans Vs. Machines, and idk, I like these little reminders of the human body! Like you mentioned the sweat on Morpheus in the first movie, and that’s another example of raw humanity. The fight scenes are always like these big displays of impossible movement, so when we get these little pops of REAL human bodies, it kinda reminds you what’s at stake!”

    ESPECIALLY THIS.

    Where were you when I was 14 and alone on the Matrix fan messageboards

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