Here’s why the Agents might be coming back in The Matrix 4. From long leather coats to bullet time, the Matrix movies left an undeniable impression on pop culture. The Wachowski sisters also gave the world the iconic Agents – anonymous, uniform programs in flawless matching suits and sunglasses. Representing the archetypal faceless authority figure, the Agents gave The Matrix‘s heroes an enemy to fight, and a reason to show off the gun-fu spectacle that Neo and his pals made famous.
Almost 20 years after Keanu Reeves last plugged in, The Matrix is set to return with a fourth movie in 2021. Currently in production after an enforced pandemic break, The Matrix 4 will once again star Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, but the nature of the sequel remains unknown. Given how often the classic Matric films manipulated the perception of reality, anything is possible in the upcoming revival, whether that be time travel or Keanu Reeves playing an entirely new character. One element of the previous films definitively confirmed to return in The Matrix 4 are the Agents. Although he won’t appear personally, Hugo Weaving revealed that Agent Smith was slated to make a comeback, and Daniel Bernhardt will reportedly reprise his role as Agent Johnson.
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With an Agent presence expected for The Matrix 4, it’s only natural to question why. Although the finale of The Matrix Revolutions never stated outright that the Agents had been decommissioned, the Machines do agree to stop using their simulated reality as a prison. Therefore, Agents in The Matrix 4 suggests something has gone horribly wrong since that hopeful sunrise on a new world… but even if the Agents are set for a return, they won’t necessarily be villains this time around.
Returning Agents Prove Policing Programs Are Required In The Matrix 4
The Agent program was designed by the Machines to maintain totalitarian order within the Matrix. When inhabitants like Thomas Anderson began to ask too many questions or believe conspiracy theories revolving around the existence of a “Matrix,” the Agents would swoop in to quash the subversion. Agents would also respond whenever the unplugged folks of Zion tried dipping into the simulation for fresh recruits, resulting in many violent battles between Agent Smith’s firm and the Morpheus mob. By the time The Matrix Revolutions comes to an end, Neo has ensured the end of this eternal battle. Humanity is finally free and, logically, this should make all Agents redundant.
There are several possible explanations for the likes of Smith and Johnson booting up again in The Matrix 4. Perhaps the Agents have become exiles. The Merovingian leads a motley crew of outdated programs from previous versions of the Matrix, and in a peaceful reality, the Agents could certainly fall under his umbrella. Alternatively, the role of the Agents might’ve softened during peace time. Where the programs were once molded after the ominous fictionalized image of an FBI operative, maybe they’re now more akin to a friendly rural 1960s English policeman – settling local disputes, keeping order, and helping Mrs. Mullins track down her missing cocker spaniel – making life easy for the people waiting to exit the Matrix.
Most likely, however, the Agents are back in The Matrix 4 because the Machines require the unique skills of their glorified guard dogs. The return of The One proves Neo’s truce is in jeopardy, for one reason or anther. The reemergence of the Agents is potentially another symptom of the Matrix’s crumbling peace – a sign that something needs fighting, repelling or defeating with the cold, unflinching violence that the Agents were renowned for. This time, however, humanity may not be caught in the Agents’ cross hairs.
A New Rogue Program Could Seek To Enslave Humans Once More
While it’s easy to assume that the Machines have broken their promise and reverted to enslaving humanity in The Matrix 4, a common theory suggests the sequel will star an entirely new villain. Given the vast potential of the Matrix franchise, 2021’s revival is unlikely to retread familiar ground. Instead of repeating the humans vs. Machines narrative from previous films, both species could come under threat from a new enemy that threatens to enslave everything, whether flesh and blood or nuts and bolts.
One of the earliest Matrix 4 casting reports claimed that Lambert Wilson would be returning as The Merovingian, while time travel is rumored to play a role in Neo’s return. With these two building blocks in place, The Matrix 4‘s main villain could be a disgruntled ancient program from the simulation’s ancient past – something that Machines desperately want to remain buried, having already deemed it too dangerous. If such software exists, The Merovingian would know about it, and time travel might be the only way to stop it.
Many Matrix fans are also suggesting that the new sequel could flip the original movie’s themes and feature a human arch-villain for the first time. As highlighted by Cypher in 1999’s The Matrix, some of the “awoken” humans react badly to their transition, and long to be plugged back into a dream. Since mankind is being freed by the truckload after The Matrix Revolutions, a “blue pill” movement could’ve arisen, fighting for humanity’s enslavement and posing a threat to everyone.
Whether The Matrix 4‘s villain is of digital or natural origin, the Matrix’s response would be to unleash the Agents once more. All of the goons absorbed by Smith, Agent Johnson, perhaps even a new-look Smith himself – activated to fend off the villains who seek to destroy Neo’s delicate peace.
The Agents Will Work With The Heroes Against A New Enemy
Of course, this would make the Agents good guys in The Matrix 4 – another philosophical twist on the established story. As the revival’s new villain (played by Neil Patrick Harris, perhaps?) brings coercion and fear back to the Matrix, the Machines, still bound by their truce, would fight back with Agents. Sadly, a few well-dressed, but woefully outdated, Agents may not be enough for the task – like expecting a Windows 98 dial-up connection to seamlessly run Netflix in HD. Perhaps this is why Neo is called upon. The Oracle previously guessed that The One would return when needed, and The Matrix Online strongly hinted that Neo and Trinity could be revived by the Machines using their physical remains. The pair’s resurrection may be a last resort Hail Mary against The Matrix 4‘s new villain.
Effectively, this would mean Neo and the Agents are on the same side. Even in the previous Matrix sequels after Agent Smith broke bad, the other Agents still fought against Zion, despite sharing a common enemy. The Matrix 4 could see the Agents become soldiers under Neo’s leadership, defending humanity against one of their own, or a deadly relic from a past Matrix – whatever the film’s threat turns out to be.
The image of Neo and the Agents cooperating would be a jarring one, given how dastardly the programs have been over the three existing Matrix movies. Watching Agents actively work to protect humans would also be a revolutionary moment for the franchise. Viewers are conditioned to expect nothing but emotionless violence from The Matrix‘s agents, so utilizing them as a force for good overhauls what the audience think they know going into The Matrix 4. The dynamic between Neo and Smith would’ve been especially interesting – how can two fated opponents come together and cooperate when both of their races face extinction?
As the first Matrix trilogy progressed, the moral line between humans and Machines became less clear. Programs weren’t inherently evil, and the people of Zion weren’t inherently good. That ambiguity will likely develop further in The Matrix 4, and the best way to rewrite expectations would be turning the once-sinister Agents into man’s best friend.
More: The Matrix 4: Every Theory On How Neo Is Alive After Revolutions
Key Release Dates
- The Matrix 4 (2021)Release date: Dec 22, 2021
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