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Why the ‘Planet of the Apes’ Franchise Makes the Marvel Universe Look Simple

Why the 'Planet of the Apes' Franchise Makes the Marvel Universe Look Simple

Over the course of the past decade and a half, the “Planet of the Apes” series has turned the reboot sequel from a threat into a promise. Gone are the days of generic action, bad twists and Mark Wahlberg sublimating his goofball strengths in favor of strained sincerity. The recent “Apes” movies are more thoughtful, more ambitious, and have the added bonus of extraordinary motion-capture effects that further the argument that there needs to be a collaborative performance Oscar category, pronto.

As with any rebooted series, there are some timeline differences between the original films and the new ones. Matt Prigge of Metro mapped out the history of the “Apes” franchise, and the its chronology rivals that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” in complication, particularly as the series reaches the 21st century and beyond.

In the original films, Caesar leads his people out of enslavement and towards a humans vs. apes stalemate by 2003, while in the recent films Caesar doesn’t start the revolt until 2019. Meanwhile, Wahlberg’s hero from the Tim Burton movie travels to the future from 2029, the same year the events of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” take place. And if you go all the way to 3978, you’ll find the characters from  “Planet of the Apes,” the short-lived “Return of the Planet of the Apes” cartoon, and the original film’s sequel “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” which end by sending Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowell) back to 1973, only a year after Charlton Heston’s Taylor started on the trip that brought him to them in the first place.

These are perhaps inevitable timeline differences that come up whenever a series is rebooted, but the parallels between the series’ real-life ups and downs and the state of the world in the films are striking.

In 1973, Zira and Cornelius reach their low points in the third film, “Escape from the Planet of the Apes.” 1973 is the same year the original “Apes” movies bottomed out with the little-loved “Battle for the Planet of the Apes.” Burton’s reviled 2001 remake, meanwhile, killed any chances for a sequel but leaving room for a new team to take over. That’s just a few years before the events in “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” in 2003, where the humans, once rulers of the apes, have been overthrown, and a new era awaits mankind and apekind.

Spectacular coincidence or bizarre conspiracy set up by an ape cabal? You be the judge.

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