Spoilers for War for the Planet of the Apes.
War for the Planet of the Apes is very much an ending. It’s the cap on Caesar’s trilogy, with Andy Serkis’ revolutionary ape dying in no uncertain tragic-yet-noble terms in the final minutes, and as his disciples gather around his body there’s a sense of a new dawn; humanity as we know it has seemingly been eradicated, with hubristic science bringing it to its knees and reactionary fighting (the real war of the title) finishing off both sides. But while there’s that finality from a character and narrative perspective, it’s not going to be the last Planet of the Apes film.
Once a forgotten relic of the pre-Star Wars franchise age, Planet of the Apes has through this prequel trilogy emerged as being at the very forefront of blockbuster cinema. Of course, like the original film’s groundbreaking makeup, its mo-cap work has revolutionized the way the industry operates, with a remarkable improvement in both the animation and real world integration even from film to film. But more than that, it’s not lost any of the high-minded, philosophical bent, with the original themes of man’s self-destruction paired with a greater sense of intimacy. And, above all, they have been successful – War is expected to push the series past $2 billion at the worldwide box office. There’s more to be done here.
Indeed, while the film is being marketed as the end, those involved have been quite open about future sequel plans. Matt Reeves has discussed how the current plan is to explore the wider world that Bad Ape, the first evolved ape not from Caesar’s company, nods towards; a semi-direct continuation that accepts a planet of apes and moves on into the conflicts that arise between the recently-intelligent simians. Alongside that, though, he’s said all of this will not take us to a remake of the original.
We would respectfully disagree and say that at this point going to that era with that concept is the absolute best way for POTA to go.
Are These Actually Prequels To The Original?
First, let’s make clear what we mean by that scandalous “remake” term and, in doing so, clarify how exactly the prequel movies fit into the series anyway. After all, calling Rise, Dawn and Wars “prequels” is incredibly misleading; yes, they are chronologically set before the 3978 of the original, but they’re not on the same timeline. There is some mild debate on this, but based on both what those producing and directing the series have said over the years and what’s explicitly in the movies, we can safely say the global breakdown Caesar’s catalysed doesn’t lead to the same Planet Charlton Heston landed on. Rise was a fresh start, exemplified by how it was actually itself remaking Conquest for the Planet of the Apes, the fourth in the original run that showed the origins of the ape rebellions.
That narrative quirk is the big reason the end goal isn’t the 1968 film – the new installments are remaking lesser-known entries from the original series full of homage and extension, meaning they directly contradict the first movie. You could make some argument of time displacement and inevitability, but the new series has been able to ditch most of the weirder parts of the Apes canon (no mutants, for one) and with it needlessly complex time travel.
And so what we have with this new trilogy is a series of films alone, with the only future promise that of the title.
What we’re saying is to deliver us that. Now War has capped the origin arc, it’s time to reveal the new end game: The Planet of Apes (from The Colonel’s warning in War) or Return to the Planet of the Apes (a nod to the 1970s animated series).
Next Page: Why A Remake Is The Next Natural Step
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