The Matrix movies in order

From the minds of the Wachowski sisters, Lilly and Lana, The Matrix quickly grew into an iconic sci-fi franchise with four feature films, comic books, video games and nine animated shorts that make up The Animatrix.

The Matrix revolves around the concept that the Earth has been taken over by machines and the Matrix itself is a simulated reality where most humans live through virtual reality, or to put it another way, are kept there. The few who escaped the simulation fight against artificial intelligence in the real world to free humanity. There’s a lot to figure out, but thankfully The Matrix franchise has built enough history with multiple films for you to absorb.

While we’re discussing the four films in the franchise, there’s also The Animatrix (a collection of nine animated shorts) which can essentially be enjoyed in any order. We highly recommend giving them a watch as it provides side stories, prequels and sequels to the Matrix universe which only adds richness to the sci-fi tapestry.

If you’re thinking of using this guide to watch The Matrix movies in order, but aren’t sure where to stream them online, our The Matrix streaming guide will help. If you want to see what we think of the franchise, check out our The Matrix movies ranked, from worst to best, to find out which one is the one.

The Matrix movies in order

  • The matrix
  • The Matrix Reloaded
  • The facilitator
  • The matrix revolutions
  • The Matrix Resurrections

1. The Matrix

Here we see a man and a woman facing the camera, both dressed entirely in black leather and wearing black sunglasses.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: March 31, 1999
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

In 1999, The Matrix invited us for the first time to make a choice. Take the blue pill and believe what you want to believe, or take the red pill and find out how far the rabbit hole goes. But why? Because in Matrix, reality is artificial and the computer programmer, Thomas Anderson alias Neo, had the chance to discover the truth and wage a war against the computers that govern the very existence of human beings.

The journey begins with the introduction of four pillars of The Matrix franchise: Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Morpheus is tasked by the Oracle to find “The One”, someone with incredible powers who could end the War of the Machines once and for all. Through this search, he finds Neo and invites him to see both sides of the coin, the real world and the simulated reality in which humans have found themselves forced.

With battles to fight, Neo learns a unique set of skills via direct download, including kung fu. This sets the stage for epic fight scenes pitting the Agents, namely Smith, to free his mind from the Matrix and launch the beginning of an exciting franchise.

2. The Matrix Reloaded

An image from The Matric Reloaded (2003).  Neo (slicked back hair, black sunglasses and a long black trench coat) standing in front of dozens of TV screens, all displaying him.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: May 15, 2003
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Neo, Trinity and Morpheus continue their revolt against machine repression by returning to the city of Zion, as the impending doom of the Sentinels draws near within 72 hours. Meanwhile, in The Matrix, Agent Smith’s power multiplies as he gains strength from his previous encounter with Neo.

The Oracle continues to use her power of foresight to aid humans and quickly becomes a staple character in the Matrix franchise. Likewise, we’re introduced to The Architect, the creator of The Matrix and a figurehead for Neo to contend with. While there is a big cliffhanger ending at The Matrix Reloaded, fans didn’t have to wait long as the sequel, The Matrix Revolutions, was released later that same year.

3. The Host

In this illustration, we see a person with dreadlocks wearing a vest and shorts running away from three people wearing mid-length black trench coats, black ties, and black sunglasses.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: June 3, 2003
  • Cast: Kevin Michael Richardson, Pamela Adlon, John DiMaggio

Although released as a bridge between the two films, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, The Animatrix, is an anthology of nine animated shorts that detail the backstory of The Matrix. These side stories expand the universe of the film franchise and show the origin story behind the Matrix’s very existence with the story of the fight between man and robot, as well as the ending.

As such, while the shorts were released as an anthology series in 2003, they can be viewed anytime to expand understanding of The Matrix. A combination of CG animation and anime, The Animatrix has its own visual style but still remains a centerpiece of the Matrix universe.

4. Matrix Revolutions

A still from The Matrix Revolutions film showing two men fighting in the rain.  On the left we see Neo, dressed in a black trench coat and sunglasses with that right arm stretched out as a punch.  On the right is Agent Smith, dressed in a suit and sunglasses, his right arm outstretched in a fist.  In the background you can see an army of Smiths agents.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: November 5, 2003
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

In 2003, it was the supposed end of the Matrix trilogy of feature films with The Matrix Revolutions. As the Oracle so aptly says, “everything that has a beginning has an end”. We of course now know that 18 years later, The Matrix Resurrections would follow. The war for humanity still stands as strong as the battle to save Zion.

As mentioned in The Matrix Reloaded, Agent Smith’s powers in The Matrix remain strong and Neo must first focus on his nemesis before it’s too late and break free to fight for humanity in the real world. The Matrix Revolutions picks up on its predecessors with harrowing existential questions intertwined with action-packed battles.

5. The Matrix Resurrections

Here we see the silhouette of a man in a long trench coat walking down a slippery road at night,

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Release date: December 22, 2021
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff

In 2021, the Matrix, as its title suggests, is resurrected. Thomas Anderson is apparently living an ordinary life 60 years after the events of The Matrix Revolutions. Until he was revisited by Morpheus, again offering to reenter the Matrix. This time however, the Matrix has expanded. It’s stronger, more powerful, and not everything is as it seems.

For The Matrix Resurrections, while Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their roles as Neo and Trinity, there’s a new Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff) plus a host of new characters and big names. Again, The Matrix is ​​action-packed, full of sci-fi musings, and will leave you questioning your own reality. Maybe 22 years later, it’s time for one last trip through the looking glass…

About Florence L. Silvia

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