Will Zak Penn’s New “Matrix” Sequel Actually Work in The Modern Era?

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

Poor Zak Penn is having a hard time with the “Matrix” sequel that he’s working on.

The prolific writer is trying his best, but from the sound of it, many of the executives at Warner Bros are really making things difficult.

According to Penn, in a recent interview with Screen Rant:

“I’ve been working on Matrix right now. Which is in…a phase right now. That’s a franchise I desperately want to see brought back and, I can’t go in to too much detail, but I’ve been harassing Warner Bros. for years to try to get it going again so that’s one thing I’m working on and I’ve been working on a bunch of other things too.”

According to Penn, part of the problem is that people think that the premise of “The Matrix” is too similar to OASIS in “Ready Player One”. It’s Penn’s job to convince Warner Bros that it’s worthwhile having two virtual reality computer simulation franchises on the go at once, and this is a frustrating experience.

Said Penn:

“I will fight people who don’t under…look, I think OASIS (the interconnected virtual space in Ready Player One) is similar, both the Matrix and OASIS are similar in that they are brilliant ideas for universes. And they are not, you know, when it came out about Matrix, people were like ‘Oh no, there [sic] going to reboot Matrix’ I was like, Why, I’m not insane. I mean, the Matrix is still one of my favorite…they’d re-release The Matrix and people would go see it.”

Perhaps the Warner Bros executives have a point.

The world has moved on since the original “Matrix” movie, as both technology and film trends have changed the way we relate to the concept of simulations and simulacra in film.

Ready Player One OASIS Headset
Source: Warner Bros

“Ready Player One” makes virtual reality an empowering space – it essentially acts as a metaphor for modern internet life, while “The Matrix” casts shade on computer generated life as it comments on the way that 1999 society lied to its inhabitants.

Are audiences simply too invested in computer worlds by this point to take “The Matrix” seriously? Given the chance, wouldn’t we all prefer the escapism of OASIS over the depressing fantasy of the Matrix?

That all depends on Zak Penn. If the writer can craft an excellent modern story that ties into real, pressing fears and concerns that audiences can relate to, then his planned “Matrix” spin-off will be a hit. If instead, his work spends too much time idolizing the original movies without pushing forward to create something new, then this will become yet another tired Hollywood sequel/spin-off that nobody will want to see.

Source: Warner Bros

The question isn’t so much whether “The Matrix” can be made to resonate with modern audiences, and more whether a movie can be drafted that will be enjoyable to watch.

This remains to be seen, but based on Zak Penn’s portfolio of previous work, and his obvious enthusiasm for the project, his “Matrix” movie might just be worth paying attention to, even if some of the ideas at its heart might feel a bit dated at first glance.