Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed this week that Planet of the Apes is one of the major Fox franchises the company plans to prioritise continuing in the near future. It’s a pleasant surprise after War for the Planet of the Apes brought the story of Andy Serkis’s Caesar to a moving close in 2017, and, it has to be said, underperformed somewhat next to its predecessor ($146.9 million domestic next to Dawn’s $208.5 million). Enough about that though, what’s next from that terrible Planet of the Apes?
The Next Generation:
War ended with Caesar’s Apes settling in the Promised Land, but there’s still a couple of thousand of years of story to explore, before Charlton Heston and co. show up in the original (which was set in 3978). A direct follow-up to the Caesar trilogy, following his son Cornelius as he struggles to maintain his father’s peaceful ideals, would provide further insight into the creation of the original film’s world. We got a taste of the other apes who’ve become enlightened with Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape, but we ought to meet whole other tribes with their own approaches to the rapidly deteriorating human race.
One element from the original film the prequel trilogy didn’t explore were the beginnings of the rigid caste structure in Ape City, where the orangutans ruled supreme, with chimpanzees in charge of science, and gorillas as labourers and soldiers. What conflict led to this division, especially since chimps like Caesar and Koba initially led the apes? Was Caesar’s peaceful philosophy the last straw?
War confirmed the simian flu that killed most of humanity across the globe also gifted the other apes with intelligence, so why not show that? The Caesar trilogy was set in and around San Francisco since that’s where he and his clan came from, but a new film could jump to another location, like London, Paris, or Mumbai, and explore how an uplifted zoo ape coped as the apocalypse unfolded where they lived. (France would be a cool location since it was the home of original Planet of the Apes author Pierre Boulle.)
Going More Kid-Friendly:
Planet of the Apes is a pretty dark and disturbing premise right? But that’s only because you’re human: if you’re a young ape, every day is probably an adventure. Franchises need to adapt or die, so it’d be good for the next iteration of the series to be more family friendly: that’s not to say it would devoid of depth, as the story of a bunch of young apes rejecting their racist elders’ beliefs about humans would bring the same subtext the films have always been enriched by.
We know, we know, Tim Burton tried this at the start of the millennium with his failed 2001 “reimagining,” but since Planet of the Apes started as a book it’s fair for another filmmaker to take another crack at it. Burton briefly played with the novel’s vision of a world where apes lived with technology on par with our’s, so might another filmmaker finally bring Pierre Boulle’s imagination to the big screen? Only time can tell.
What are your thoughts for the post-Caesar Planet of the Apes franchise? Please do share your thoughts. And remember, it was Earth all along, or else they’ll have finally made a monkey out of you.