He is the One: The Matrix Trilogy’s Postmodern Movie Messiah

By Mark D. Stucky


1. Dirs. Larry and Andy Wachowski, Warner Brothers, 1999.

2. See, for example, James L. Ford, “Buddhism, Christianity, and The Matrix: The Dialectic of Myth-Making in Contemporary Cinema,” The Journal of Religion and Film, Vol. 4, No. 2, October 2000 <http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/thematrix.htm>. See also his article “Buddhism, Mythology, and The Matrix” in Taking the Red Pill, ed. Glenn Yeffeth ( Dallas: Benbella Books, 2003) 125-144.

3. See, for example, Frances Flannery-Dailey and Rachel Wagner, “Wake Up! Gnosticism and Buddhism in The Matrix,” The Journal of Religion and Film, Vol. 5, No. 2, October 2001 <http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/gnostic.htm>.

4. In an online chat with viewers of the DVD (“Matrix Virtual Theatre: Wachowski Brothers Transcript,” 6 Nov. 1999 <http://www.warnervideo.com/matrixevents/wachowski.html>), the Wachowski brothers are asked: “Your movie has many and varied connections to myths and philosophies, Judeo-Christian, Egyptian, Arthurian, and Platonic, just to name those I’ve noticed. How much of that was intentional?” They respond: “All of it.”

5. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2nd ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968).

6. The major elements will be examined, but all the minor and supporting elements are too numerous to be treated in an article this length.

7. Peter Malone, “Christology in Edward Scissorhands,” Explorations in Theology and Film, eds. Clive Marsh and Gaye Ortiz ( Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 2000) 76.

8. Mallone 76.

9. The correspondences with Jesus are not perfect in every detail, of course, but the number of blatant and subtle parallels is astonishing.

10. Dirs. Larry and Andy Wachowski. Warner Brothers, 2003.

11. Dirs. Larry and Andy Wachowski. Warner Brothers, 2003.

12. Conrad Oswalt in “Armageddon at the Millennial Dawn” (The Journal of Religion and Film, Vol. 4, No. 1, April 2000 <http://www.unomaha.edu/jrf/armagedd.htm>) notes the apocalyptic and Christ figure elements in the original The Matrix. The apocalyptic level is raised much higher in the sequels. See also the chapter “Movies and the Apocalypse” in his book Secular Steeples: Popular Culture and the Religious Imagination ( Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 2003) 157-188.

13. The Animatrix (Warner Brothers, 2003) released on DVD and video (not in theaters) contains other animated stories by various directors concerning the Matrix that only indirectly relate to Neo or not at all. The Animatrix fills in the background of how the humans originally created the machines, exploited them, then feared them, and tried to destroy them. The blame for the evil present in the Matrix ultimately rests on the shoulders of humanity.

14. Quoted in Chris Seay and Greg Garrett, The Gospel Reloaded ( Colorado Springs: Piñon Press, 2003) 83. See also Matt. 3:14.

15. John 1:29.

16. John 1:32-34.

17. Read Mercer Schuchardt qualifies the Judas parallel in that the agents are looking for Morpheus at that moment, not Neo. However, in betraying Morpheus’s crew, he betrays Neo as well. “What is the Matrix?” Taking the Red Pill, ed. Glenn Yeffeth ( Dallas: Benbella Books, 2003) 5.

18. John 11:43.

19. Seay and Garrett 30.

20. In The Matrix Reloaded, Smith comes back and says Neo’s encounter with him has somehow “unplugged” him from the Matrix. Now he is a free rogue agent with even greater power and malevolence. Although Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection is commonly viewed as a victory over Satan, Satan is portrayed in the Bible as still active in the world until the decisive apocalyptic conflict in Revelation 20.

21. Dan. 2, 4.

22. In “Matrix Virtual Theatre: Wachowski Brothers Transcript,” the Wachowski brothers say the names “were all chosen carefully, and all of them have multiple meanings.”

23. Link, the new Nebuchadnezzar operator says of him, “He’s doing his Superman thing.” Since Superman as a Christ figure has been noted by many, here we have a second-generation Christ figure reference.

24. Compare with the apocalyptic beast from the sea of Revelation 13 that had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound healed.

25. The Oracle says to Neo about Smith: “He is you. Your opposite. Your negative.”

26. Isa. 11:6; Col. 1:20.

27. “What is the Matrix?” Taking the Red Pill, ed. Glenn Yeffeth ( Dallas: Benbella Books, 2003) 5.

28. Schuchardt 13.

29. Schuchardt 16.

30. Steve Lansingh, “Ten Films that Made my Year,” ChristianityToday.com 17 January 1999 <http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/103/21.0.html>.

31. Paul Fontana, “Finding God in the Matrix,” Taking the Red Pill, ed. Glenn Yeffeth ( Dallas: Benbella Books, 2003) 161.

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