Disney's Planet Of The Apes: Where Does The Franchise Go Next?

What future escapades will face the world's remaining apes?
planet of the apes
Movie Web.com

While the X-Men, Alien, Die Hard, and Home Alone film franchises were huge gets for Disney, the Planet of the Apes series may just be the premier gold mine that the company now has access to. Based on author Pierre Boulle's 1963 French novel of the same name, Planet of the Apes is a sci-fi exploration of the future of mankind, through social commentary and space odyssey.

20th Century Fox's 1968 original film stars actor Charlton Heston as an astronaut set adrift and landing upon a future Earth ruled by civilized/weaponized apes.  Following an overabundance of sequels, director Tim Burton (Batman, Beetlejuice) sought to revitalize the franchise once again with a stylish yet flawed Planet of the Apes remake starring Mark Wahlberg.

With the critical failure of Burton's Apes revival, 20th Century Fox decided to wind the clock back on the POTA series, focusing instead on the outbreak which allowed the apes dominance over the human beings which occupy the planet Earth. Though not set firmly in the timeline of the original 1968-1973 films, the current Ape series act as a loose prequel to the events prior to the original series star George Taylor (Heston) landing on Earth. 

Following Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, director Wes Ball (The Maze Runner) was chosen by Disney in late 2019 as the director for their upcoming Planet of the Apes installment, which will take the simian enabled apes into a new decade of cinema. Due to his commitment to DC and Warner Bros.' upcoming The Batman and potential sequels, director Matt Reeves will not be returning to the Planet of the Apes anytime soon.

As Reeve's memorable tenure on the Planet of the Apes series comes to a close, the finality of the trilogy leaves the door ajar for a talented new voice to enter the fray. The film's latest venture War For the Planet of the Apes may have closed the book on Caesar's story, but concurrently numerous possibilities for spinoffs and sequels on other apes.

War For the Planet of the Apes
The New York Times.com

While story details remain scarce, Ball has offered a few details that give an idea that will act as a spiritual successor from the previous films. Though fans hoping for a direct continuation for War may be in for a disappointment, the next Apes movie will see a continuation of Caesar's legacy within the series. Shortly following his hiring, Ball shared a snapshot from the classic Apes films, which may or may not offer any direction of the story.

As the tenth anniversary of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes nears, word on the future of the series remains mum. Rise depicts the apes' intelligence evolution and the start of the widespread simian outbreak. Its 2014 sequel Dawn of the Planet Apes highlights growing turmoil within the ape community, while 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes finally sees the arrival of a military platoon and their mission to eradicate any remaining apes.

If the next Apes film acts as a straightforward follow-up of War, it would not be out of the realm of possibility to expect both a time skip and a change of POV. Now that Caesar has tragically passed away in battle, the apes and audiences are in need of a new leader to take up the reins of the franchise.

Caesar's younger son Cornelius is one logical path, but that is not even taking into account the scattered groups of apes likely active in other regions of the world. While Caesar remained a leader for a handful of apes within the Northern California area, there remains an entire world filled with simian apes. As proven with former ape Koba (Toby Kebbell), not every ape will agree with Caesar's more optimistic views of the human threat and life in general. 

former ape Koba - Toby Kebbell
3 Brothers Film.com

While the future may be unclear, it's been a growing discussion among fans that the trajectory of the current POTA series is reaching the point upon which astronaut George Taylor makes a return trip home to Earth in the original Planet of the Apes. The 1968 sci-fi film starring Charlton Heston was a pure science fiction adventure set in the future (3978 to be precise) with completely fluent armored apes on horseback, mute humans kept in cages, and a ruined Statue of Liberty for a tourist attraction.

A brief blink and you'll miss it segment during the Rise of the Planet of the Apes features news footage from the launch of a commercial named spacecraft Icarus, which is an obvious nod to the space flight embarked upon by Taylor and his crew of astronauts. While the spacecraft does not have any bearing on the overall arc of Caesar's story at hand, the film makes it a point to mention that the flight along with its crew of astronauts have gone missing in space, toward the end of the movie.

As of 2021, the whereabouts of the crew and the Icarus spacecraft remain unresolved. If future films decide to expand on the shuttle, the seeds for a modern reimagining of the original Planet of the Apes film are there.

Before bringing the trilogy to a close, War For the Planet Apes saw Caesar and his clan take in a young girl named Nova (Amiah Miller), who is a human and prisoner of the apes in the 60s film (played by Linda Harrison). Then there is the evolved simian flu, reducing humans to a primal form and rendering them speechless, which becomes the state of remaining humans in the future.

War For the Planet Apes saw Caesar and his clan
VFX Voice.com

Focusing on Bad Ape's original flock or another ape colony within the world would not only widen the trajectory of the world but keep the series moving forward. Unlike Caesar's own stable of ape companions, Bad Ape is not only more vocal than his fellow primates but the most fashionably dressed. The only instances that a lead ape was seen wearing clothes were Caesar during his childhood with caretaker Will Rodman (James Franco) and his father Charles (John Lithgow).

Apes in clothes or armor would become a staple of the original series and even the 2001 Tim Burton remake, which the current series seems to gradually be inching towards.  

However, Burton's 2001 retelling of 1968 original may have proved that yet another adaptation of the original story may not be what will benefit the series. 2024 is a giant leap from 3978 and with that, come centuries of war and conflict amongst both apes and humans before the beginnings of an ape civilization begin to take form.

Audiences have only been privy to a trilogy spanning over a decade of the apocalypse, all from the POV of one single group of apes. The opportunity exists for the filmmakers to bring a brand new element to the table, rather than retread old ground and automatically depicting apes as dictators locking humans in cages.

Current junior Writing Arts major attending Rowan University. I am an avid writer, comic book reader, and film enthusiast.

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