Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is about to hit theaters and it has people wondering where it fits into the larger Planet of the Apes franchise narrative and timeline. The story follows the young chimpanzee, Noa (Owen Teague), who befriends a young human woman named Mae (Freya Allan), who is different than other humans in surprising ways. After a tragedy that sees Noa’s entire village and family slaughtered, he and Mae embark on a dangerous journey that will hopefully reunite apes and humans once again.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes has been getting great reviews, billed as a strong return to the Apes franchise, with praise going to director Wes Ball’s reimagining of the universe while staying true to the mythology. Still, a really excellent Planet of the Apes trilogy having just wrapped in 2017 has left some audiences wondering where Kingdom fits into the overall timeline.

Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes Is Set 200 Years After The Last Movie

If the world looks different in the new movie than in 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes, there’s a reason for that: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is set roughly 300 years after Caesar’s death. At the end of the previous movie, Caesar led his people to the oasis before succumbing to his fatal wounds. He was peaceful at the end, hoping that his pacifist philosophy and harmonious teachings would be handed down.

300 years later, however, and the apes are now led by a ruthless and cruel despot name Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), who has taken Caesar’s teachings and perverted them. Rather than continue Caesar’s benevolent philosophies, Proximus is bloodthirsty, carrying out raids on ape clans that don’t follow his rule or that deems weak. The apes are firmly at the top of the food chain, with their weapons and teachings being the rule; human technology and teachings have been all but lost in the past few centuries.

Humans, meanwhile, are little more than chattel, used as slaves or gone into hiding. It seems the disease that was introduced in War for the Planet of the Apes, the Simian Flu, that initially rendered them mute has mutated to throw humans back into a feral, animalistic state. This is what makes Mae so special; she’s intelligent in a way that other humans are not, perhaps showing that the spark of humanity has not yet died out. Mae could become to humanity what Caesar was to apekind, which is why Proximus Caesar hunts for her.

It’s The Start Of A New Planned Trilogy

With that premise, there’s a lot of storytelling ground to cover. What do apes do once they have the power instead of humans? Will they be better than humans or will they treat humans the way they themselves were once treated? Will they forget Caesar’s teachings completely or are there still pockets of apekind who remember the older, more peaceful ways and still keep them alive in secret? Will humankind evolve an immunity to the Simian Flu and start to regain their reasoning and intelligence?

With all those big questions to grapple with, it’s not surprising that Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is planned as the start of a new trilogy. The Planet of the Apes franchise is about action and sci-fi, but at its heart, it’s always been about the more philosophical questions about what makes us who we are – what it means to be sentient, or human, or alive. With the apes’ and humans’ roles now being reversed in the power dynamic, it presents a whole new universe of existential questions to explore.

As Wes Ball said an in interview with Empire, “Those last three movies were about the end of something. They were about the end of this Moses story. They were about the end of humanity. And we thought, ‘From the ashes of those previous movies, we’re gonna grow a new tree to climb.’ This movie is very much about the beginning of something.” He was announced as the director for Kingdom at the same time that the new trilogy was announced, so it’s likely he’ll be involved in all three movies in some way, even if he’s not directing them. His vision for the next phase of the Planet of the Apes franchise sounds fascinating; here’s hoping Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes has a strong opening weekend.

Get tickets to Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

  • Editorial