The Matrix Resurrections, now streaming on HBO Max and showing in theaters, has a lot of figurative lifting to do. On one hand, it has a legacy to uphold, because The Matrix (1999) was a game-changer–-a mash-up of cyberpunk, martial arts, and gunplay, wrapped up in philosophical arguments about fate vs. free will and the nature of choice.
But Resurrections is also the direct followup to Matrix Reloaded (2003) and Matrix Revolutions (2003), two sequels which, though commercially successful, are oft-criticized for needless bloat and redundant plot beats. Co-writer and director Lana Wachowski, who also co-directed the first three Matrix films, had to thread a needle: Remind audiences why they loved the first film, while also treading new territory that would justify the fourth film’s existed.
Whether or not she succeeded is not for lack of trying. The Matrix Resurrections is an ambitious, meta work of fiction that celebrates its past, but also interrogates it and holds its fanbase up to scrutiny. Here are 32 Easter eggs and references you might have missed, including an end credits scene you’ll need to stick around for.