The Matrix Resurrections has given way to plenty of nostalgia in its latest addition to the film franchise. The sci-fi flick stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Lambert Wilson reprising their roles from the previous movies, and has gotten many shoutouts for its treatment of the fan-favorite romance between Neo and Trinity. It also introduces Matrix-newbies Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff into the cast.
So, what’s missing? Made evident through fan reactions and critic reviews, Laurence Fishburne’s absence is a major pitfall for the new installment. Fishburne famously originated the role of pack leader Morpheus in the popular franchise but has been recently replaced by Aquaman’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen.
Why was Laurence Fishburne replaced?
For the past numerous months, Fishburne has been bombarded with questions about his absence in this highly-anticipated fourquel. Earlier this year, he confided to Collider that he wasn’t invited to reprise his role.
The actor said, “It would make sense that people would ask me that, so it doesn’t get old. I am not in the next Matrix movie, and you’d have to ask Lana Wachowski why, because I don’t have an answer for that,” placing the blame on the movie’s production team.
Prior to that comment, back in 2020, Fishburne was prodded by Vulture about his time spent in the Matrix universe and he had nothing but fondness to share about playing Morpheus.
He told the outlet, “It is probably the role that I’ll be best remembered for, which is great; it’s not the only thing I’ll be remembered for, which is better.”
However, the tone seemed to shift when he was asked about The Matrix 4.
“No. I have not been invited. Maybe that will make me write another play. I’m looking for the blessing in that. I wish them well. I hope it’s great,” shared the 60-year-old actor.
What are fans and critics saying about Laurence Fishburne’s absence?
New Morpheus actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen hasn’t received flack for his role, given that he is an acclaimed actor, but many are stating that The Matrix Resurrections isn’t the same without Fishburne. In a review, USA Today insinuated that the franchise didn’t give Abdul-Mateen a fair shot.
“Fishburne’s absence is notable, though: Abdul-Mateen gives Morpheus a lot of style and is in some ways a different take, but he’s such a great actor that originating a character would have been a better fit for him,” wrote movie critic Brian Truitt.
European outlet Shropshire Star made the same association, albeit with a less-favorable critique.
They stated, “Abdul-Mateen II is a lack-luster substitute for Laurence Fishburne’s theatricality.”
Fans online seem to agree as Twitter has been blowing up with complaints about Fishburne’s absence.
While still deeming the movie as “watchable,” it has been made evident that Fishburne’s absence has stung Matrix fans and left a sour taste in their mouths.
Not even Keanu Reeves could explain the actor’s absence, telling Unilad, “Yeah, certainly. Speaking with Lana about that, it was just creatively where she wanted to go with the production and the story. Yeah, we love Hugo and Laurence, and we thought about them all the time.”
The Matrix Resurrections is currently playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.