After a fantastic opening weekend both critically and financially, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is obviously poised to bring back Caesar and company in a few years. A sequel to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is definitely happening, and will be directed AND written by Matt Reeves. Recently, Reeves dropped some hints as to the shape of the next film. But what about some specifics?
Here are three scenarios that might fit into the new Apes mythos.
Essentially a Real Remake of the Original Film in the New Continuity
I think this is the best bet. The original Apes films sort of haphazardly told the “story” of how a “planet of the apes,” was formed, but in reverse. The continuity issues of these older movies is a little like one of those cartoon trains where the tracks are being built just moments before the train hits them. The third and fourth films—Escape from The Planet of the Apes and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, respectively—reveal that the ape-dominated future-Earth visited by Col. Taylor in the first film was actually created through a time-travel paradox involving the child of future-apes Zira and Cornelius.
The new movies have explained this “rise” and eventually “dawn” of the planet ruled by apes in a direct, linear fashion. So, now that we’ve seen the sequence of events that convinces us (fairly well, anyway) that the apes are in charge, why not jump forward say 100 years for a set-up straight from the original film? An astronaut from a somewhat contemporary (2000s) space mission could return to Earth Buck Rogers style, 100+ years after they are supposed to, and BAM it’s Caesar’s planet of the apes, where humans have been totally dominated.
Obviously, Caesar would be dead by this point, but that’s okay! Andy Serkis can play Cornelius who, in this continuity, will be Caesar’s descendent. This idea also jibes with director Reeves in the io9 interview when he said this:
“...he’s the Caesar that shall begin other Caesars. Given that we know the ending of the story and we know that Caesar has these ties to humans and to apes, and that everything gets really turned upside down by the world of the ’68 film…”
This is a little weird, simply because the original Caesar from the old movies is actually, thanks to time travel, probably his own ancestor and descendant at the same time. But in the new apes movies, it’s not like that, meaning what would set this hypothetical new film apart from the original Planet of the Apes is that our sympathies would be more split between the human astronaut (or astronauts) and the apes, because we know these apes. Also, this sequel wouldn’t require an audience member to have seen Dawn or Rise, but would make the experience even better if they had.
Go Even Further Into the Future (Like WAY Further)
Or what if things got even crazier? What if this sequel went like 2,000 years into the future, and apes had colonized other planets? To the point where some apes on other planets didn’t even believe Earth existed, and that humans were a far-fetched concept. I know this sounds a little silly, but it’s actually not dissimilar to the framing mechanism of the original novel. There, two chimpanzees are flying around in space and are incredulous at the notion that a human being could have written such a crazy story. Of course in the novel, the planet of the apes isn’t Earth (initially), but Sonar.
Perhaps this sequel could be titled Return to the Planet of the Apes and could feature space-faring apes who live on another planet, returning to Earth to check on the legends of Caesar and all of his cronies. This movie would NOT have to feature humans at all if it didn’t want to, and would be a massive triumph if somehow it was taken seriously. To make things even more rad, imagine if these space-apes were in some kind of war with other space-apes, and the “ape not kill ape” thing becomes a sort of religious truth they’re seeking in order to unite all of ape-kind across the universe!
Pick Up Where this Movie Ends, But with a Twist!
And that twist is James Franco is somehow alive and now, and a bad guy. I mean, we never actually saw him die in the previous film, and bringing back Franco would provide the movie with some solid emotional weight, particularly if he goes anti-ape. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was mostly about the apes, and the humans played second fiddle. This worked really well, but I think if some human on ape conflict is central to the next movie, it needs to get personal. Part of the reason we couldn’t connect with Gary Oldman’s crazy-person antics in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was because we didn’t know the character at all. If Franco comes back, twenty years older, and totally insane, maybe a showdown between he and Caesar could get awesome, but also, emotional. Just to be safe though, give Franco a robot arm and a laser-beam eye.
Okay, commenters: now, FIGHT LIKE APES! Actually, just tell me what you think! Do you want to see a sequel to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? Do you like these ideas? What do you hope will happen? Please, please tell me ONE of you wants to see Franco with a robot arm. Please.
Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com.