Matt Reeves: Bad Ape is the key to the future of the Planet of the Apes franchise (exclusive)

Tom Butler
UK Movies Editor
What does the future hold for the ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise? Matt Reeves spills the bean (20th Century Fox)

Director Matt Reeves has dropped the biggest hint yet about where the ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise might go after ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’, and a character introduced in the new film (in cinemas 11 July) could hold the key.

“Bad Ape is actually a seed that is a forest,” Reeves explained to Yahoo Movies.

Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) is a former zoo chimpanzee who gained sentience and the power of voice in isolation from Caesar’s tribe. Andy Serkis’ Caesar (along with new human character Nova, played by Amiah Miller) finds Bad Ape hiding out in the mountains while journeying to his confrontation with the Colonel (Woody Harrelson), and It’s this idea of a wider world of intelligent primates that looks set to drive the narrative of future ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies.

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“In this story we see that the idea is that the world is revealed to be much larger than the apes ever imagined,” the future ‘The Batman’ director adds.

“There are apes who grew up without the benefit of Caesar’s leadership and they might not just be pockets of one or two, there might be actually colonies, and might that be where future conflicts come for Caesar’s apes? They have the benefit of the integrity that he’s instilled in them, so what’s going to happen when they encounter others who didn’t have that?”


As the leader of the apes, Caesar’s legend has reached near mythic status, and in ‘War’ he finally seeks to lead his people to salvation as “the apes Moses”. We all know where the apes end up, as the reboot trilogy has slowly worked its way towards the story of the 1968 ‘Planet of the Apes’, but Reeves – who likely won’t be directing the next film – says there’s still a lot of story to tell before the two stories meet.

“Caesar’s apes are not like those apes [in the ’68 movie] and Nova is a nod towards that. None of which is to say there’s nothing literal about the connection, that’s more of a trajectory. That [trajectory] changed in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’. It’s clear in the original [1968] story when Taylor comes to this planet, he doesn’t think it’s planet Earth, and then he realises it is, that’s the big twist of the movie.

Charlton Heston’s astronaut finds himself stranded in a dystopian future earth, inhabited by apes (20th Century Fox)

“You realise that evolution – 5000 years of evolution – after the humans have destroyed themselves, have allowed the apes to take over the planet. That’s accelerated and changed dramatically through the ALZ-113 in ‘Rise’ (the manmade virus that decimated humans), so they’ll never meet up, but what it does is it tells the end of the story in a way that is taking all of these stories and removing the question of ‘what happened?’ and instead focussing it on the ‘how?’

“So this ends up getting to be a blockbuster that’s all about character and all about the sort of thematic, of us holding the mirror up to ourselves.”

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ swings into UK cinemas on 11 July.

Watch a Andy Serkis transform into Caesar in this incredible new ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ clip below…


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