Though The Matrix and its sequels clearly present them as villains, the franchise’s machines might well be the good guys. The Matrix followed hacker Neo as he is awakened to the truth: the “real” world is a simulation, and he’s being kept there by a race of sentient robots. Breaking free, he discovers that the Earth has been all but destroyed by centuries of war.
It’s explained to Neo that most of humanity is kept in pods where they are connected to the Matrix. While they live in blissful ignorance, the machines supposedly use them as batteries. So we’re told, at least.
There’s actually a theory that the automatons are actually benevolent, though. Posted to Reddit, it points out that humans are incredibly inefficient as batteries, and the Matrix would almost certainly use more power than it could generate. So if the humans got their foes’ motivations all wrong, what exactly are the robots doing?
The Matrix’s Machines Were Actually Saving Humanity
The clever fan theory has an answer for that, too. The theorist believes that the creation of the Matrix is far from the prison humanity believe it to be: it’s actually a life support system. After their war all but destroyed the Earth and the humans continued to attack, the machines realized that they’d eventually have no choice but to eradicate their creators. Instead, they found a more elegant solution, and placed humanity inside comfortable simulations of the world before it was destroyed.
Comparing life inside the Matrix to that in the real world, it’s not hard to see why. It’s a peaceful solution to all-out war, and it’s actually a favorable outcome for mankind. Though Neo and his friends believe that the Matrix is akin to living in servitude, they don’t actually answer to machines. They get to enjoy a better life, at no real personal cost.
This theory is backed up by The Animatrix, the animated anthology film set in the same universe. It reveals that humanity were the ones who escalated the war, and keeps the machines’ motivations vague. As The Matrix is all about questioning everything, maybe it’s our perspective on the sci-fi conflict that needed challenging. According to this theory, the machines are the good guys, and humans are a race of bloodthirsty meddlers.