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Movies have a tremendous power to inspire and thrill. But even more than that, they can sometimes directly impact real life. And decades after its release, The Matrix certainly stands as one of those impactful movies for a lot of people. Now one of the movie’s directors, Lilly Wachowski, has confirmed a much-talked-about element of The Matrix.

Lilly Wachowski at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards
Lilly Wachowski at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

‘The Matrix’ is a sci-fi action-thriller with a lot to say

To be sure, The Matrix offers a cinematic experience like few others. On the surface, the movie is simply a sci-fi action-thriller. But siblings Lilly and Lana Wachowski infused the story with a variety of influences. In addition to action and sci-fi, The Matrix invokes mythology, religion, anime, Westerns, film noir, and countless philosophical concepts.

More than 20 years after its theatrical release, bits of dialogue — such as the red bill versus the blue bill — are ingrained in the public consciousness. The movie’s sequel — 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions — developed the first movie’s themes. And while they contribute their own ideas, nothing has matched the impact of the original The Matrix.

Co-director Lilly Wachowski just revealed the film’s ‘original intent’

Since the release of The Matrix in 1999, both Lana and Lilly Wachowski have come out as transgender women. And over the years, fans have begun to suspect the Wachowskis’ movie is actually an allegory for what’s it like to be transgender. Now in a recent interview, Lilly Wachowski has discussed this is exactly what she and her sister intended all along.

I’m glad that people are talking about The Matrix movies with a trans narrative. I love how meaningful those films are to trans people and the way that they come up to me and say “These movies saved my life.” … So I’m grateful that I can be throwing them a rope to help them on their journey. … I’m glad that it has gotten out that that was the original intention, but the corporate world wasn’t ready for it.

Wachowski also discussed how the movie’s notion of making the “impossible becoming possible” informs its connection to the transgender community. After all, The Matrix ends literally with Neo (Keanu Reeves) proclaiming that he will show others how to free their minds and escape the confines of the system.


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Will the upcoming fourth film from Lana Wachowski revisit this theme?

As Wachowski said, the world in 1999 wasn’t ready for a blatant transgender narrative. But times have changed a lot since then. With The Matrix 4 midway through filming, fans have wondered how the new movie will build on the franchise. One way could be tackling a transgender story much more directly.

After all, the Wachowskis subsequently explored the LGBTQ community much more thoroughly in their Netflix series Sense8. And as Lilly Wachowski points out, the character of Switch in The Matrix was initially a man in the real world and a woman in the Matrix. Perhaps The Matrix 4 could reintroduce this idea amid its own extension of the series’ themes.