How ‘The Matrix’ influenced culture: From film to fashion

In 1999, Keanu Reeves chose the red pill to go down the rabbit hole and modern cinema and pop culture would never be the same.

Even in the landscape of that unforgettable cinematic year, “The Matrix” was an absolutely unique blend of cyberpunk science fiction, superhero thriller and mind-blowing existential drama.

The Wachowski filmmakers have failed with a dystopian nightmare about a hacker-hero named Neo (Reeves) destined to be a savior with the help of a gang of rebels led by cyber-warriors Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus ( Laurence Fishburne).

The ambitious storytelling was matched by lush visuals: green lines dripping with computer code, a post-apocalyptic field of battery-humans encased in capsules, androgynous protagonists sporting virtual wardrobes with S&M undertones and defying the laws of physics to dodge bullets.

“The Matrix Resurrections” – out in theaters Wednesday and on HBO Max – is the fourth installment of the incredibly influential franchise.
NY Post Photo Composite

“The Matrix” also had its share of detractors, who mocked the notion of reality as a busted freshman illusion. But whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that, as one of the movie’s menacing mechanical octopuses, the creation of the Wachowskis has put its tentacles into almost every aspect of pop culture. It launched endless discussions, memes, and a visual vernacular in both film and fashion that persists more than 20 years later. Recently, Kim Kardashian rocked a Matrix outfit for an outing.

The stunts that defy physics in 1999 "The matrix" led to a slew of copycats and set a new standard for action scenes.  Above, Neo (Reeves) battles Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) in a famous subway scene from the film.
The physics-defying stunts in 1999’s “The Matrix” led to a slew of copycats and set a new standard for action scenes. Above, Neo (Reeves) battles Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) in a famous subway scene from the film.
© Warner Bros / courtesy Everett C

The next installments of the franchise that would follow in 2003, “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions”, expanded the Wachowskis’ vision, although neither lived up to the promise of the original.

But hope is eternal. So, before the latest installment, “Resurrections” is released in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22, let’s examine the sprawling influence matrix of “The Matrix”.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their iconic roles as Neo and Trinity for the fourth installment of the franchise, "Resurrections."
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their iconic roles as Neo and Trinity for the fourth installment of the franchise, “Resurrections”.
© Warner Bros / Courtesy of Everett C


Bullets time

Visual effects supervisor John Gaeta designed a shot where Neo leaned back in slow motion to avoid bullets. It became a very popular style in action movies after “The Matrix”. Benedict Cumberbatch protagonist “Sherlock” adapted the technique to show his hero’s analysis of a moment in time. The technique has also been parodied in countless comedies and animated films, including “Shrek”, “Deadpool”, “Scary Movie”, “The Simpsons” and “Kung Fu Panda”.

Unconventional superheroes

With his slim physique and concise manner, Keanu Reeves was not the idea of ​​a typical hero figure at the time. In creating Neo, the Wachowskis opened the door to a more elegant and edgy genre of characters – think Christopher Nolan’s Batman, Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Quentin Tarantino’s Beatrix Kiddo in “Kill Bill,” who were also educated in martial arts.

Adaptations to comics

The Wachowskis have claimed that “The Matrix” was inspired in part by a request for them to create an original comic, and the graphic novel aesthetic of the film can be seen in films such as 2010’s “Kick-Ass” “Wanted,” “2008” and “Sin City” and 2005 “V for Vendetta”, the latter of which was adapted by the Wachowskis for director James McTeigue.

Keanu Reeves in "John Wick."
Keanu Reeves in “John Wick”.
Courtesy of Everett Collection

Virtual Realities

“The Matrix” spawned a virtual reality goldmine, from Cameron Crowe’s 2001 thriller “Vanilla Sky” starring Tom Cruise to Christopher Nolan’s 2010 classic “Inception” to Steven Spielberg’s 2018 adaptation of the novel. Ernest Cline “Ready Player One”, about a near future where people leave behind the hellish landscape of an Earth full of junk in the world of virtual games.

The “John Wick” franchise

Perhaps nowhere is the influence of “The Matrix” more obvious than in this hugely successful Keanu headliner. The “gun fu” of “John Wick” owes much of its style to “The Matrix”, and the franchise nodded to this connection in “John Wick 3”, where Reeves’ character echoes a line from the original “The Matrix.” “in his request for weapons:” Weapons. Lots of guns. “


After the film’s release, it spurred fashion trends on the streets and runways, including the Christian Dior 1999 collection. Vogue reported that Dior was “heavily influenced” by the film, with this season’s collection featuring sweeping trench and leather.

In 2017, “The Matrix” resurrected on the runway with long coats and skin-tight leather looks by Balenciaga, Vetements, Balmain and Alexander McQueen.

The rebirth continued the following year with the Alexander Wang and Off-White collections featuring shades reminiscent of “Matrix” and tight black leather.

FRANCE - JULY 15: Haute Couture autumn-winter 1999 -2000 Fashion show in Paris, France July 15, 1999 - Christian Dior.
Two models show “Matrix” inspired dresses for Christian Dior during the label’s 1999 Paris fashion show.
Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Kim Kardashian in a "Matrix"- together inspired.
Kim Kardashian in a “Matrix” inspired ensemble.
Kim Kardasian Instagram


Trans visibility

The success of the film series raised the profile of its directors, the Wachowskis. Both siblings have come out as trans in the years following the initial film’s release, shedding light on trans people. In 2020, Lilly Wachowski said in an interview that “The Matrix” was a metaphor for coming out as transgender. “I love how meaningful these movies are to trans people and how they come to me and say, ‘These movies saved my life,'” she said.

Lily and Lana Wachowski.
Lilly and Lana Wachowski
Getty Images

Simulation theory

Online chatter about the idea that our universe is actually a computer simulation has increased significantly since “The Matrix”. Philosopher Nick Bostrom postulated in 2003 that it was more likely than not that our reality was a simulation. Elon Musk has also espoused the theory, saying he thinks there is a “one in billions chance” that humans aren’t in a simulation. Scientists pointed out that there is no real evidence to support this theory. Last year, the documentary “A Glitch in the Matrix” explored simulation theory, including profiling a man who killed his family after concluding that the matrix was real.

Keanu Reeves as Neo in "The matrix."
In the 1999 film, Neo (Reeves) is presented with a choice between ignorance or awakening, represented by a blue pill and a red pill. He chooses the red pill and is awakened to the true reality of his world.
© Warner Bros / Courtesy of Everett C

The phrase: “A glitch in the matrix”

“The Matrix” is full of quotable moments – “I know kung fu”, “There is no spoon” – but “a glitch in the matrix” has become a popular shortcut for something that seems creepy or strangely familiar (just give a look at the sprawling Glitch in the Matrix subreddit).

A still image of the now iconic film, "The matrix." The film's visual vernacular continues to influence cinema, fashion and culture more than 20 years after its release.
A still from the now iconic film, “The Matrix”. The film’s visual vernacular continues to influence cinema, fashion and culture more than 20 years after its release.
© Warner Bros / courtesy Everett C

The phrase “Pilling red”

This “Matrix” inspired term for waking up to reality has been co-opted by alt-right circles to describe the process of “realizing” the erroneousness of progressive concepts. In 2020, there was a moment in the spotlight when Elon Musk tweeted “take the red pill”, with no further explanation, to which Ivanka Trump replied, “Got it!” Lilly Wachowski later he answered, “Fk both.”


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