War for the Planet of the Apes is set to hit cinemas this week, and it's is expected to serve as the prequel trilogy's grand finale, as well as the swan song for #Caesar (Andy Serkis) - the messianic ruler of the apes. But even if the third chapter in Caesar's story wraps up the prequels, the ape-dominated world has more stories to tell. If director Matt Reeves has his way, War will conclude Caesar's journey to freedom while opening the door for even more stories set before Charlton Heston crash lands on Earth.
As the director of both War and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes said in a recent interview with io9:
Reeves: In our minds the story’s not over. The story definitely continues, but that aspect of seeing this epic arc was really what we wanted to complete.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for 'War for the Planet of the Apes' and the rest of the 'Planet of the Apes' franchise.
The Planet Of The Apes After Caesar
Reeves, who's currently preparing the The Batman, revealed his ideal plans for future Apes prequels. The director intends to build on the changes that were introduced in the first installment, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and make future movies that have their own story while maintaining a connection to the original franchise.
Reeves: In the original, obviously, there was like 5,000 years of evolution that occurred after a nuclear holocaust and that’s what enabled the apes to reach this level of evolution. In this one, the idea was that the timeline was changed radically, and yet the originals are sort of a trajectory. And it’s like they’re in the same universe and they vibrate up against each other narratively.
War sped up the timeline between the prequels and the original movie. The third prequel hinted that astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) and his crew landed on the planet a single generation after the events of the prequels - not after thousands of years. This was clear to fans of the original thanks to the inclusion of a young human, Nova (Amiah Miller), and Caesar's child, Cornelius (Devyn Dalton) - both of whom are adults in the 1968 original.
While these details may be enticing for old-school Apes fans, Reeves hopes to flesh out the world of the Apes movies, rather than limiting himself to the use of familiar names and plot elements from previous films.
Good News For Bad Apes: A World Outside Caesar's Community
In another interview with Fandango, Reeves revealed that the prequel's newcomer, Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), wasn't just introduced in War for his comic timing. In fact, the English-speaking ape's existence hints at a larger world beyond Caesar's tribe.
Reeves: When [co-writer] Mark [Bomback] and I came up with the idea for Bad Ape in War, that was to imply the idea that there would be apes out there in the world that Caesar and his apes knew nothing of, and that they wouldn’t have had the benefit of Caesar’s leadership and the values that he had instilled in his community.
That future conflicts in this kind of epic journey that takes us toward the ‘68 movie without necessarily ever getting there could be about conflicts between apes, not just conflicts between humans and apes. And so, to me there are many more exciting stories to be told, and I would love to tell those stories.
The Apes prequels take place during and after the worldwide chaos caused by the Simian Flu Pandemic, but the trilogy focuses solely on Caesar's tribe. As Bad Ape revealed, there were other bands of sentient apes wandering across America before they were killed by the Colonel (Woody Harrelson) and his men.
While Caesar's community could be considered lucky to have the guidance of a true leader, the same may or may not be said for other ape communes around the planet. By exploring conflicts between fellow apes, the prequels can show how their society evolved into one that's ironically similar to human civilization in more ways than they would admit.
Apes Forever Strong!
Despite the initial doubts, the prequel trilogy to Planet of the Apes defied the naysayers and became one of the most critically acclaimed blockbuster franchises in recent memory. Each entry has been considered to be better than the last, with War being confidently called the trilogy's best. With this in mind, it's a pity that the Apes prequels are seemingly coming to an end.
Thankfully, Reeves has a few more stories to tell and is more than willing to delve deeper into this world's other stories. While more Apes movies may take a while to become a reality due to Reeves' commitment to the DC Extended Universe (#DCEU), it's good to know that he's more than ready to return to the franchise in a heartbeat.