Exclusive: Zak Penn Wants To Expand The Matrix Universe

Screenwriter Zak Penn has revealed some of his plans for his upcoming Matrix movie. The Ready Player One scribe has certainly built up a significant amount of nerd cred over the course of his impressive career. With writing credits for films such as X2: X-Men United, Elektra, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Incredible Hulk and The Avengers, Penn has made his mark on the superhero genre in a way not many can match.

Penn has taken on some major genre pictures during his time, but nothing he's done compares to his task of bringing back the Matrix franchise. While talking to Screen Rant about his work with superhero films (he explains that he did write a draft of Suicide Squad 2 as a favor), Penn gave us an update on some of his upcoming projects. In the first of a three part series, Penn gave some insight into his plans for one of his passion projects: The Matrix.

Related: Zak Penn Explains What's Going On With The Matrix

Zak Penn: I’ve been working on Matrix right now. Which is in...a phase right now. That’s a franchise I desperately want to see brought back and, I can’t go in to too much detail, but I’ve been harassing Warner Bros. for years to try to get it going again so that’s one thing I’m working on and I’ve been working on a bunch of other things too.

I want to hug you for that. I love The Matrix.

Penn: I will fight people who don’t under...look, I think OASIS (the interconnected virtual space in Ready Player One) is similar, both the Matrix and OASIS are similar in that they are brilliant ideas for universes. And they are not, you know, when it came out about Matrix, people were like ‘Oh no, there going to reboot Matrix’ I was like, Why, I’m not insane. I mean, the Matrix is still one of my favorite...they’d re-release The Matrix and people would go see it.

That movie was mind blowing.

Penn: I was at the premiere and I was still like, this was better than I ever expected. So I just think that universe is brilliant, I think OASIS is like the action-comedy version of that and it doesn’t always have to be the same characters, you could go in so many different directions so…

The Matrix, which debuted in early 1999, opened the minds of audiences to some wild ideas and was certainly a revolutionary film in terms of its VFX. Two successful sequels followed, both in 2003, as did an animated collection of short films, The Animatrix, that gave fans some exposition about how the Matrix came to be. Penn has been very protective of his plans for The Matrix in the past, insisting that it would be neither a continuation of the trilogy nor a reboot. Based on his comments here, it seems that Penn’s Matrix film(s) might just be about an entirely different set of characters who happen to inhabit the Matrix, expanding the universe beyond the keyhole view we get from the perspective of Neo and crew in the originals.

The idea of shared or expanded universes is certainly an interesting one. With Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. and Universal all building their own versions of them, they’ve become more common but they also carry great risk. Given the number of moving parts and dangling threads, it’s no easy task to structure movies not only as individual stories but also as pieces of a greater narrative, but here’s to hoping that Penn’s passion for the project and his experience with comic book films can help him bring The Matrix to a new generation of fans.

Stay tuned to Screen Rant for part two of our conversation with Zak Penn in which he let us know what project is next up on his to do list!

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