13

In the Matrix (1999) when Morpheus is taking Neo to see the Oracle, Morpheus nods to a man who appears to be blind and the man nods back:

enter image description here

The other theories I've encountered about this man suggest he is a guardian of the Oracle like Seraph in the sequels.

However, I could not help but notice visual similarities between the 'blind man' and Morpheus: they are both black, they have similar constitution, they even have similar glasses, and what appears to be a cane in the hands of the 'blind man' looks a lot like a katana which is the weapon of choice of Morpheus in the sequel.

Having watched the sequels, I know that Neo is not THE chosen one but A chosen one i.e. another iteration of the chosen one. This picture makes me think that the 'blind man' is the previous iteration of Morpheus. Are there other indications of this? Are there indications of other versions of any of the other characters?

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 6
    I've added a post notice, asking for explanation and citations in answers. This question seems like it may be extraordinarily difficult to answer with certainty - and is close to asking for opinions as to the likelihood of something being true. – iandotkelly Feb 20 at 19:16
9

It's interesting to speculate about who he is, but I suspect there isn't any satisfying canonical answer (TLDR: I don't think he is a previous version of Morpheus). I'll approach this by first surveying the sources I'm aware of (my blind spot includes all of the games, and the handful of comics excluded from volumes 1 and 2) which might have context clues, and then my own (admittedly speculative) reasoning about where they point. (Aside: I greatly appreciate comments correcting any fact errors I make here.)

Survey of potential sources of context:

  1. The blind man is credited as Steve Dodd (Wikipedia & IMDB), an aboriginal actor with a career spanning several decades.
  2. AFAIR its provenance is unclear (if anyone knows its provenance, please set me straight!), but the early 1996 script has a very different "version" of this scene set in a bar. The scene has named characters Rex and Mojo, and an unnamed bar-tender. There's no obvious equivalent of the blind man. I don't see a PDF version I can link to a page on, but you can search "EXT. BAR (MATRIX) - DAY" to find the beginning of this sequence.
  3. In scene 76 (p66) of the 1998 numbered shooting script, there's not much detail about the blind man: Morpheus nods to a blind man who nods back. An elevator opens and Neo follows Morpheus inside. (This description is the same as in the final draft shooting script included in The Art of the Matrix)
  4. The storyboards in The Art of the Matrix skip right on over this scene.
  5. None of the commentary tracks pay any attention to this scene.
  6. The live-chat transcript originally from the Warner Brothers website doesn't have any obvious commentary on the blind man. This is relevant because the chat transcript has notes that indicate the movie was playing during the chat, which, AFAIK, makes it the closest thing we actually have to a commentary track by the Wachowski's on The Matrix. The Wachowski's do inject a number of unprompted comments as the film progresses, including one moments later when Gloria Foster appears as The Oracle.

Interpretation/reasoning

With the information we have up to that point, the fact that the blind man nods back at Morpheus (and that the script agrees he is blind) seems to limit "what" he can be to: a prospect, or an unplugged human hacker. Later in the trilogy we can add the possibility that he's a program. I can think of a few more options, but they're all increasingly speculative. Anyways:

  • A prospect seems unlikely. If there were prospects this old, I don't know why anyone would make a big deal out of Neo's age. (FWIW: the 1996 script makes an even bigger deal of his age)
  • A hacker seems plausible, but it seems risky to hang out near the oracle (unless perhaps he's also escorting a prospect--but it seems like he'd wait inside as Morpheus does). The fact that Morpheus brings a full crew in to secure the mission seems suggest it is a big risk (but we don't see any indication another full crew is around). The fact that they leave Mouse alone (but heavily armed) to guard the hard-line further suggests that they think most of the risk is either in transit, or in visiting the oracle.
  • A program seems plausible, but I'm not sure he's a guardian like Seraph. In the third film, the Oracle says Seraph has been her guardian for years. The exterior of the building they're in (described in scene 75 in the shooting script) is described as: Tenement-like and vast, it is the kind of place where people can disappear.

I don't think the blind man is a previous version of Morpheus for a few (thin) reasons:

  • None of the sources go into any detail about this character.
  • I can't think of any obviously-canonical in-universe causal mechanism that would support something like a previous version of Morpheus. I don't recall anything that clarifies whether the matrix is effectively re-loaded with the same original set of humans (restore from backup), or if the people who populate a given round are just everyone plugged in at the end of the previous round. The Architect's monitors are a hint for the former, but I guess Neo could be the only direct copy. In any case:
    • If it's the first, Morpheus would also be the same in each round.
    • If it's the second, any previous Morpheus is presumably destroyed along with Zion
  • Body of work and interviews give me the impression that the Wachowski's are fairly thoughtful about casting decisions. I may be projecting too much back onto who they were over 20 years ago, but I have a hard time squaring that impression with the idea that they would hire a famous aboriginal actor to play the "previous version" of a character they hired an African-American actor to play.

It's not a good replacement for a satisfying canonical answer, but since interviews also give me the impression that they're pretty good/eclectic cinema nerds, I think it's worth considering that this may be an easter-egg homage--a literal head nod--to Steve Dodd.

3

There's nothing to suggest that every single incarnation of Neo had the exact same experiences. The first Neo may have been tapped by the Architect or even the Oracle. When that Neo awakened fifty people from the power plant and they began freeing the first generation of human resistance, it's possible they left something behind that the machines wouldn't recognize as significant when they wiped out Zion.

Also, we can assume that the Oracle has a clear memory of every generation of the resistance, so when she makes her "predictions" she's really just recognizing the behavior patterns of similar personality types.

Morpheus, Trinity and the others were all born in the Matrix and then freed. We don't know who Morpheus was freed by but I get the feeling he and Trinity are unique to Mr. Anderson's time as Neo.

Since we haven't yet seen an in-canon version of the previous six Neos, we can only speculate that one or two of the Neos might have had a love interest, another might have discovered the Matrix by hacking a computer. The second Neo may have been chosen by the first, etc.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .