(Warning: this article contains spoilers for The Matrix trilogy and Equilibrium. But you should have seen them by now surely, so no big deal. Right?)
The Matrix series stands as one of the best works of science fiction ever made. And fifteen years after its release, still manages to confound fans with its messianic and philosophical "whoas."
But what if I were to tell you about an incredible fan theory that has appeared on reddit. One that posits the idea that The Matrix and 2002's vastly underrated sci-fi caper, Equilibrium, existed in the same world...
The Early Iterations of The Matrix
Equilibrium is set in a dystopian future, ravaged after the end of the Third World War. Emotion, and all sources of it such as art, music, literature and other emotionally stimulating material, have been outlawed. The inhabitants of the movie's fictional neo-city "Libria" are required to take daily injections of the drug "Prozium," which acts as an emotion suppressant, turning humans into drones. Failure to do so ("Sense Offence") would lead to execution.
In The Matrix, during Agent Smith's thrilling "humans beings are a disease" monologue, he explained to Morpheus the machines' initial plans for The Matrix to be a veritable utopia, where humanity could flourish amidst their slumber. But due to the machines' inability to "describe our perfect world," many lives were lost and the machines sought a new form of control.
What if the post-WW3 world was the machines' attempt at an earlier experiment. One where they, or the Oracle, began to deduce how important a role choice makes in human life.
In the Equilibrium Construct (as I'm calling the theory cause it sounds cool), you could either live in utopian harmony with "Prozium" and totalitarian order, or live in constant fear of death from "Sense Offense," but still get to read comics and stuff. Which would you choose?
The Grammaton Cleric vs. Agents
"Sense Offenders" live outside the walls of "Libria" in war-torn, destitute conditions, and are constantly hunted down by the "Grammaton Cleric," the apex of "Librian" law enforcement.
These highly skilled operatives are trained in the art of "Gun Kata," a fictional martial art that suggests that given the positions of enemies in a gun fight, all trajectories of fire are statistically predictable. Upon memorizing the positions, a Cleric can easily dispatch an aggressor without aiming at them, in the traditional sense.
What if the "Cleric" were the Matrix's proto-agents? Super powered programs tasked with erasing malfunctioning humans and/or programs from the Matrix with extreme, yet sublime, force?
That would make John Preston (Christian Bale) an early version of the One!
Well, more like The Sixth if you take Neo's encounter with The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded into account.
When Neo first meets the silver tongued devil that is Daddy Matrix, The Architect regales Neo with the fact that he is actually the sixth naturally occurring anomaly to risk crashing the Matrix, and offers him a choice...
Save Zion from certain extinction or save Trinity from certain insurance claim.
In the movie Equilibrium, John Preston's wife Viviana was executed for being a Sense Offender, leading to the Equilibrium Construct positing that Viviana was a glitch which was suitably removed from the Matrix.
Her eradication created an error in John's programming which lead to him stop his dose (going rogue like Agent Smith in Matrix 2-3), notice the plight of other anomalies (or people whose minds are rejecting the program) and aid them in the reclaiming of a Zion filled with free thought and emotion.
This could have led to the machines scaling back to three A.I. controlled keeper programs (or Agents), due to their ability to malfunction.
So "Libria" could have existed as an early version of the Matrix construct, with John Preston as that operating system's savior. Corrupting the program and leaving a trail in code for other heroes to seek out and take on the might of the machines.
Whew! That was fun and pretty mind altering. Remember this is all pure speculation, but it would be thoroughly cool if somehow the two franchises were connected. Fan fiction o'clock, me thinks!