Hitting theaters this weekend is the latest installment in the Planet of the Apes franchise, which has received new life over the last few years, thanks to Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. All of these films are set in the same universe as the franchise that kicked off with 1968 film. Despite all three of these films being set long before the events of the original, the latest installment in the saga shares plenty of connections to the decades-old franchise.
With Rise, audiences saw the initial scientific experiment that began to heighten ape intelligence and displayed their desire for freedom, led by Caesar, who became so smart he even learned how to talk. This film also birthed the "Simian Flu," a disease that began to kill those humans infected with it.
Years later, Dawn showed the dire situation humankind had fallen into, with the Simian Flu wiping out much of the world's population and sending society into a primitive state. The world of apes, on the other hand, thrived under Caesar's leadership, as he taught apes to communicate with sign language while living in the redwood forests of northern California. With many apes praising Caesar, Koba undermines his authority and sparks conflict between the ape and human communities, kicking off a disastrous war.
Scroll down to see some of the film's many easter eggs explained by the writer himself!
Warning: Mild spoilers for War for the Planet of the Apes below
From the very first moment we see human soldiers in War, audiences will notice they've emblazoned their helmets with Alpha and Omega symbols, in addition to their primate allies carrying those brands on their foreheads. Later in the film, Woody Harrelson's Colonel character makes multiple mentions of his movement being the Alpha and Omega, in addition to seeing American flags emblazoned with these symbols.
Although audiences familiar with the symbols will understand the relevancy of the cyclical nature of history, the symbols hold a more specific significance to the franchise. In the second original film, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, a cult of humans worship a nuclear weapon referred to as "Alpha-Omega" that is emblazoned with those respective symbols.
Bomback confirms, "You see the Alpha/Omega symbolism everywhere, that's a reference to the original series, that was the name of the cult of the humans. It's the notion that history is always going to be repeating itself and that its unwittingly cyclical."prevnext
In the time since we last saw Caesar, his family has expanded, with the addition of a son named Cornelius. In the original film, Cornelius was one of the only apes who empathized with the human characters, thinking they could be of use to the ape population and shouldn't merely be prisoners.
Given War takes places centuries before the timeline of the original film, the implication isn't that this is the same Cornelius, but this is most likely the first of many with that name.
"You know Cornelia is actually the name of Caesar's wife and that was established in Rise of the Planet of the Apes," Bomback points out. "We thought it would be fun in this movie if the baby's name was Cornelius and maybe he was the next in line to rule the kingdom after Caesar, and that name would repeat throughout ape history, the way names do in our own cultures."prevnext
Humans No Longer Speak
In both the 1968 film and in Pierre Boulle's novel upon which the story is inspired, humans in the future have lost the ability to speak coherently. With this new trilogy paving the way for the events of the original films, this allowed Bomback to explain how this happened.
After Caesar meets a girl who can barely talk, Harrelson reveals that not all individuals in contact with the Simian Flu die, but that some lose their higher brain functions. This results in the loss of speech and poor motor skills.
"We're starting from this new origin that was viral," Bomback revealed. "The point-of-view is that Caesar's sentience wasn't triggered by some weird jump in evolution, but that it is in fact, man-made. We like the idea that humans in the future are devolved to the point of apes in our world, and apes have evolved into what we think of as human. Why not keep the virus as a part of that?"
Bomback pointed out that he felt this explanation made more logical sense, noting, "It's not entirely clear to me in the original movie what caused the loss of speech; maybe the nuclear holocaust was responsible for it?"prevnext
Many of the humans in War for the Planet of the Apes are members of the military, with one of the only exceptions being a young girl that Caesar discovers while searching for a military base. She joins the small band of apes on their journey, showing that she's far more interested in helping the apes than the humans.
When this band of survivors comes across a temporary refuge, the girl, whose brain is much more primitive, becomes fascinated with a relic of the old world, a shiny plate that reads "Chevrolet Nova." Later in the film, the girl has the name "Nova" bestowed upon her, which, much like Cornelius, served as the introduction into the universe of that name, one which fans would recognize from the original film.0comments
"She's not supposed to be the character from the '68 film," the writer clarified. "But here we see how that name gets introduced into the universe of these movies. And…hundreds of years later, someone else is going to wind up being named Nova."
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