‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ May “Erase” Previous Three Films

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Noa (Owen Teague) headshot in the 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' trailer

Credit: 20th Century Studios

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes could erase the last three films in the series…

The likes of mega franchises such as Star Wars and Marvel, which both fall under the Disney umbrella, have left little room for other science fiction IPs in recent years.

James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) might have obliterated the box office, grossing over $2.32 billion worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time, but it will be many years before we see the third installment hit theaters.

Na'vi on a sky banshee in 'The Way of Water' trailer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Star Wars might not have had a theatrical release since 2019, with Disney and Lucasfilm “relocating” the franchise to its streaming service Disney+, for now at least, however, between 2015 and 2019, it churned out five movies in theaters.

As for Marvel, need we say more? Despite suffering a massive decline over the past couple of years by churning out underwhelming content amid the “superhero fatigue” era, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has still led the superhero genre since 2008.

Rey about to try and rescue Chewie in 'The Rise of Skywalker'
Credit: Lucasfilm

But now, it’s time for another sci-fi franchise to reclaim its territory, and it’s one that appeared long before Star Wars.

The first official trailer for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024) is finally here, the latest installment in a franchise that started in 1968.

Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) talking to the apes in the 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' trailer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will be the tenth film in the Apes franchise, following the original five-film series that started with Planet of the Apes (1968), which was also accompanied by a live-action television series, Tim Burton’s 2001 remake, and the latest trilogy of films comprised of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017).

However, Kingdom is only connected to the last three, Rise, Dawn, and War, acting as the fourth installment in that series.

Apes on horseback in the 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' trailer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

For the past year, we’ve had to make to do with morsels of information for the upcoming sequel, from filming start dates to casting announcements. Excitement started to ramp up last September when the official X (formerly known as Twitter) account for the film shared an image of Noa (Owen Teague) on horseback against a majestic backdrop.

Now, the official trailer for the film is finally here, and it puts Avatar: The Way of Water to shame. Per 20th Century Studios, check it out below:

Related: ‘Planet of the Apes’ Officially Joins the Marvel Universe

What’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes about?

The film takes place “generations” after the events of War for the Planet of the Apes to find that many ape clans have emerged all around the world. Humans, who are now scarce, have been reduced to a feral-like state and are hunted by the apes.

According to the synopsis, the film’s main antagonist, Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), is searching for “the last traces of a secret human technology.” That technology has not been revealed by the filmmakers, but it likely either relates to space travel, or time travel.

Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) talking to the apes in the 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' trailer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Per Wikipedia, here’s the synopsis for the film:

Generations after the events of War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), many ape clans have emerged in the oasis to which Caesar led his fellow apes, while humans have regressed into a feral state.

When the ape leader Proximus Caesar perverts the teachings of Caesar to enslave other clans in search of the last traces of a secret human technology, the ape Noa embarks on a journey to find freedom alongside a young human woman named Mae.

Noa is played by Owen Teague and Mae is played by Freya Allen.

Raka (Peter Macon) in the 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' trailer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

You might scoff at the idea of Kingdom featuring time travel, but it’s a concept that has been used by the franchise since the very beginning. Let’s do a spot of time-traveling ourselves, and take a look at all the installments in the franchise that focus on time travel.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

In the original 1968 film, we learn that astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) inadvertently jumps through time aboard his spaceship the Icarus, to find himself on a future Earth after a nuclear war, where apes have risen up and now rule over humans.

Of course, this isn’t made clear until the final scene, in which George screams those iconic words, “You blew it up!” while looking mournfully upon the head of the Statue of Liberty, which reveals that he hasn’t crash-landed on an alien planet as previously suspected.

Charlton Heston in 'Planet of the Apes' (1968)
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Planet of the Apes (1968) Sequels

The sequels Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) each deal directly with time travel.

In the first sequel to the 1968 film, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, while searching for Charlton Heston’s character George Taylor, fellow astronaut Brent (James Franciscus) inadvertently travels into the future.

In Escape from the Planet of the Apes, the two apes, Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), go back in time to a then-contemporary United States, long before a “planet of the apes” ever happens.

Roddy McDowell in 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes'
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Planet of the Apes (2001)

Tim Burton’s 2001 remake Planet of the Apes (2001) is also centered around time travel, with lead astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) meeting the same fate as George in the original film, after passing through a wormhole in space with a test-chimpanzee on board.

Leo learns that he’s crossed space and time, and that the planet he’s stranded on is a future-version of Earth, where apes revere a long-dead primate, who turns out to be the chimpanzee from his spaceship. At the end of the film, Leo even ends up in an alternate timeline.

Thades (Tim Roth) in Tim Burton's 'Planet of the Apes' 2001
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Return to the Planet of the Apes animated series

Yes, there was an animated series titled Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975), which came after the failed live-action television series Planet of the Apes (1974).

It follows a plot similar to the first two films in the series, focusing on two astronauts who accidentally travel forward through time, arriving in a world dominated by apes.

Apes in a courtroom in 'Return to the Planet of the Apes' animated series
Credit: 20th Century Studios

As you can see, time travel has played a huge role in the wider Apes franchise, and this doesn’t even include the novels and comic books that span the last five decades.

The trailer for Kingdom in no way confirms the presence of time travel, however, we know that the apes (the “bad” ones) are looking for a secret human tech. Whether this tech is space travel or time travel remains to be seen, though it’s likely to be the latter.

Space travel shouldn’t be ruled out, though, but there’s seemingly no reason for the apes to seek out such technology. That said, we may finally see an astronaut return to Earth aboard the Icarus, whose disappearance gets a subtle mention in the first film in the series, Rise.

Noa (Owen Teague) with his falcon in the 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' trailer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

This concept may be saved for a future film, though, or perhaps for Kingdom‘s inevitable mid or post-credits scene. As for time travel, this would make far more sense for the upcoming sequel, as it’s possible Proximus Caesar could be looking to destroy it.

Has time-traveling technology long existed in the current Apes series? And does this new villain fear that humans — perhaps some non-feral ones still in existence — will be able to use it to travel back and prevent apes from ever taking over the planet?

It’s hard to imagine the current Apes series going down this route, as it is, for the most part (if you take talking apes out of the equation), a relatively grounded series of films. That said, if you look at how much the series has evolved between Rise and War, which are separated by just one film, it may yet continue to evolve in dramatic ways.

Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) talking to the apes in the 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' trailer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Introducing time travel into the series is an exciting concept, even if it does feel like something out of the Terminator franchise. But maybe Planet of the Apes isn’t just set to replace Avatar as the next big epic sci-fi franchise — it could also replace Star Wars.

For a long time, fans hoped that one of the many Disney+ Star Wars shows would “erase” the widely hated Sequel Trilogy. But while the latest series, Ahsoka (2023), certainly leans into time travel, it seems to embrace the sequels more than anything.

Mae (Freya Allen) in the grass in the 'Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes' trailer
Credit: 20th Century Studios

The difference between Apes and Star Wars is that the current Apes trilogy is critically acclaimed and beloved by fans. But even if the events of Rise, Dawn, and War are “undone” by time travel in the upcoming film, let’s hope it still doesn’t ruin an otherwise perfect series.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes stars Owen Teague (Noa), Freya Allan (Mae), Kevin Durand (Proximus Caesar), and Peter Macon (Raka). Travis Jeffery,  William H Macy, Eka Darville, Neil Sandilands, Sara Wiseman, Lydia Peckham, Ras-Samuel Weld A’abzgi, and Dichen Lachman have been cast in undisclosed roles.

It releases in theaters on May 24, 2024.

Are you excited about the new Apes sequel? Let us know in the comments down below!

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