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Matrix 4 Theory: Neil Patrick Harris Is The Villain

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Neil Patrick Harris is set to appear in The Matrix 4 - could he be on villain duty? The Wachowskis' original Matrix movie was a groundbreaking venture in 1999 and set a new tone for sci-fi action cinema. A pair of sequels in 2003 (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions) failed to ignite the same kind of reaction, but despite the somewhat disappointing continuation of Neo's adventures, The Matrix has retained a strong cultural identity and loyal following over the past 20 years. So much so, in fact, that Warner Bros. have announced The Matrix 4 for 2021.

Directed solely by Lana Wachowski on this occasion, much of The Matrix 4's plot remains unknown, and a sense of mystery also hangs over the cast. We do know that Keanu Reeves will be appearing to (probably) reprise his iconic role as Neo, and he'll be joined by fellow Matrix alum, Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. Heavily rumored additional returnees include Lambert Wilson as The Merovingian and Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe. Fascinatingly, The Matrix 4 also promises an impressive selection of new talent. Yahya Abdul-Mateen, Neil Patrick Harris and Jessica Henwick are among the names joining Neo for his next adventure, all in undisclosed roles.

Rumors swirl over who these actors will portray in The Matrix 4, with Abdul-Mateen consistently linked to Morpheus. Another tantalizing possibility is that Neil Patrick Harris will be playing the villain of the piece. Thanks to candid comments from Hugo Weaving, The Matrix 4 is confirmed to have sought (and failed) to bring back Agent Smith. That appearance could've been as a cameo, a supporting figure, or as the main villain. Without Weaving on board, The Matrix 4 would surely seek to avoid replacing Smith with another quietly menacing, cold and calculating baddie in a similar mold. A more natural reaction would be to write a villain completely the opposite to Smith - a flamboyant showman with magnetic charisma and cult-like status.


Without meaning to typecast, Harris does undoubtedly fit that bill. Shades of these qualities were on full display in Harris' performance as Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events, although one would obviously expect his turn in The Matrix 4 to be much less overblown. Not only would a dramatic and expressive villain mark a striking deviation from the insidious silence of Agent Smith, but an antagonist of this kind would also fit with another theory regarding The Matrix 4's villain - that they'll be human, rather than Machine or Agent.

The Matrix has always toyed with the dichotomy between the real and digital worlds, as well the man vs. machine struggle. It would be entirely fitting for a human villain in The Matrix 4 to have the kind of ostentatious personality that directly opposes the digital Agent Smith. If The Matrix 4's main antagonist was a human, they'd most likely be leading some kind of pro-Matrix cult that advocates being "plugged-in" instead of existing in the real world. The leader of such a movement would need to have the oratory skills and performance flair required to maintain such a dangerous following of zealots, and Neil Patrick Harris is perfect for that style of villain. It's also curious that The Matrix 4 has cast Jonathan Groff who, like Harris, has a background in musical theater. Could Groff be lined up as Harris' second-in-command, an equally outlandish character encouraging humans to give up their freedom and return to the Matrix? If such a cult faction did emerge in Zion, that would certainly be reason enough to bring Neo back from the dead.

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