Was There Another Matrix In The Matrix?

As part of part of our series on mind-blowing movie fan theories, we’re changing the way you watch some of Hollywood’s most famous films. 

The theory

Cult sci-fi ‘The Matrix’ depicted the modern world as a simulated reality (‘the matrix’) created by sentient machines to control mankind and harvest human bodies as a bio-energy source.

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However, one incredible fan theory, dubbed “The Matrix-within-a-Matrix theory” (or MWAM), suggests that the “real world”, and in it mankind’s last city Zion, is actually a second level to the simulation – designed to control even the humans who escaped the Matrix. As Neo might say: “woah…”.

The evidence 

In ‘The Matrix Reloaded’, Neo manages to disable a group of attacking sentinel machines in the “real world” by using some unseen force – telling Carrie-Anne Moss’ character Trinity: “Something’s different, I can feel them”. But Neo’s gift as The One is that he is able to manipulate the code WITHIN The Matrix (resulting in those awesome action sequences), but in the “real world” he should be a normal human being. Unless he’s still in the Matrix?

During ‘Reloaded’ Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith copies himself onto resistance member Bane, and enters the “real world” (in Bane’s body) at the beginning of ‘Revolutions’. We know that Agents are able to take over bodies inside the Matrix, so when Smith leaves the simulation in Bane’s body it implies they’re not entering the “real world.”

When Neo is blinded by Smith (as Bane) in ‘Revolutions’, he can somehow still see – now with bright orange fire-like vision. We know that it’s possible to learn to “see code” within the Matrix (think back to those black and green binary images), so is this Neo now seeing a different version of the code in what he thinks is the “real world”?

‘The Matrix’ movies explain the existence of the “real world” city of Zion as a kind of pressure valve – allowed to exist by the machines as a way of isolating and removing dangerous dissenters from the Matrix. But by allowing those unhappy with the simulation to “wake up” into the dystopian “real world” (actually a second simulation), the “Matrix-within-a-Matrix” theory is accounting for what that machines see as mankind’s inherent cynicism.

This is even backed up my Agent Smith’s monologue in the first ‘Matrix’ movie about humans naturally wanting unhappiness: “Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from…”

When Neo meets the Matrix’s creator, the Architect, he reveals that the ongoing events are in their sixth cycle, and five previous Zions have been allowed to exist by the machines – destroying them when the population grows too big. “There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept,” The Architect admits. So, if the machines have that much control over the fate of mankind in the “real world”, why shouldn’t Zion be another part of the Matrix?

The verdict 

The theory adds a great twist to the ground-breaking sci-fi about alternative realities, by suggesting that even real life is just another simulation.

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However Neo’s baffling “real world” abilities could actually be explained by his contact with the Matrix’s “source” earlier in the second film – resulting in a wireless-like connection with the system. This is revealed in ‘Revolutions’ when the Oracle reveals to Keanu Reeve’s character exactly how his gifts work:

“The power of The One extends beyond this world. It reaches from here, all the way back to where it came from… The source. That’s what you felt when you touched those sentinels, but you weren’t ready for it. You should be dead, but apparently you weren’t ready for that either.”

So, using his newly acquired access to the source, he communicated with the simulation “remotely”, and disabled the Matrix-controlled Sentinels back in the “real world”. This effectively cancels out the biggest point in the entire fan theory.

Does a “Matrix-within-a-Matrix” make sense? Yes. But sadly so does the debunk. As for the rest of the evidence, just like ‘The Matrix’ itself it’s open to interpretation…

Are you convinced by this fan theory? Let us know in the comments below.


Image credits: Warner Bros.