Morpheus Is Back… And Selling Cars?

The 'Matrix' character returns in a new Super Bowl spot from Kia.

It’s almost Super Bowl weekend, and that means you can expect football, chicken wings and the co-opting of beloved fictional characters to sell stuff. Because who doesn’t want to see a little Darth Vader promoting the perks of driving a Volkswagen?

The latest pop culture figure to be brought into the world of marketing is Morpheus from the “Matrix” movies. Laurence Fishburne reprises his role as the spiritual guide of Keanu Reeves’ Neo, but this time he’s got a few things to say about the benefits of driving a Kia. (Hint: It’s more luxurious.) Also, he sings for no reason.

Morpheus is the second “Matrix” character to inexplicably find his way into a TV spot. Hugo Weaving brought Agent Smith back from the dead to tell us why GE is doing great things for the world, as if the whole message wasn’t completely undercut by the fact that he’s a human-despising lunatic.

That’s the real problem with these ads that bring in characters we know from movies and TV shows. The ones from “The Matrix” just happened to be some of the worst examples. They don’t work if there isn’t an understanding on the marketing department’s account of who that character is. Does it make any sense at all that Morpheus begins to sing opera in the back seat of the all-new Kia K900? It does not, but Kia says “Let’s do it anyway because it’s silly, and once the viewer recognizes the character, what happens next doesn’t matter at all.”

Aside from not being very good, the Kia Super Bowl spot expects you to want the car because you saw “The Matrix” back in the ’90s, and it assumes that you’re going to accept Morpheus singing just because. It’s not like you liked the character in the first place because he did awesome kung fu moves and jumped around in slow motion.

Writer/editor for MTV. If it involves cowboys, spies, or hitmen, I'm there. All three would be ideal.