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‘Planet of the Apes’: With ‘War’ Over, What’s Next for the Blockbuster Franchise?

"War for the Planet of the Apes" effectively ended one trilogy, but there are more stories to tell in this franchise.

“War for the Planet of the Apes”

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

3. More Characters to Explore

The franchise has long been anchored by the performance of Andy Serkis has Caesar, rising from whip-smart lab experiment to leader of the free world in just three films, and while “War” ends with his demise, the series itself isn’t dead. As Reeves told Screen Rant earlier this month, although Caesar has been the lead character throughout the trilogy, the franchise can solider on without him.

“We think of [Caesar] being the seminal figure in ape history like Moses but as the idea, that tapestry, extends outward, there are all kinds of new characters in this story that you could absolutely follow,” he said. “It’s really about this trajectory that all of the apes are on, that all of the characters are on, and have been very intentionally centered around Caesar, but the universe is meant to be larger than just him as well.”

“War for the Planet of the Apes

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

“War” closes out with Caesar’s death, but it leaves the door open for his young son Cornelius (played by Devyn Dalton) to take over the tribe, a young ape who surely has plenty of adventures ahead of him. The film also introduces us to new characters like Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape, Sara Canning’s ape Lake, and Amiah Miller as the young mute Nova, and that’s to say nothing of the larger pack of apes that Caesar led to freedom, the vast majority of which we don’t yet know. Without Caesar to lead the narrative, there’s more than enough room for another star (or two?) to take the lead. We’re gunning for Cornelius and Nova, who could both speak to very different sides to one experience.

4. A Wider Perspective

Those new characters also hint at a much wider world to explore, most notably Bad Ape, whose arrival reminds Caesar that there’s an entire planet out there also dealing with the fallout from the Simian Flu and the new world order it’s helped usher in.

Reeves told Fandango, “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 doesn’t just mean more apes like Bad Ape — a former zoo inhabitant who escaped during the initial outbreak, and who is eager to fit into Caesar’s tribe — but others who haven’t been united by a strong leader with his own moral code. What does it look like when they come into contact with Caesar’s still-idealistic group? Reeves thought of that too, and told Fandango, “Future conflicts in this kind of epic journey [may] take us toward the ’68 movie without necessarily ever getting there [and] could be about conflicts between apes, not just conflicts between humans and apes.”

“War for the Planet of the Apes”

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Still, there are likely plenty more conflicts to explore between said humans and apes. At the end of “War,” Woody Harrelson’s militia and the army bent on taking them out are both decimated by battle and a very well-timed avalanche, but that by no means implies that all humans are gone. And the apes are going to have to face off against more of them, eventually leading to all humans being mute and drafted into servitude to the apes. At least, that’s what the world of the 1968 film looks like.

In 2016, Reeves and producer Dylan Clark told /Film, “You know the ending, but what you do know is also that the world is not that world. So how did it change? Caesar’s apes are not like the apes in the ‘Planet of the Apes,’ right? They’re very brutal to the humans. That’s not what’s going on, so how did that happen?”

Sounds like more than enough for a movie…or three.

“War for the Planet of the Apes” is in theaters now.

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