‘War for the Planet of the Apes’: How Does it Set Up the Original?

20th Century Fox War for the Planet is now playing in theaters.

War for the Planet of the Apes is the conclusion of a Planet of the Apes prequel trilogy, but it does not exactly tie directly into the 1968 original like Rogue One ties directly into Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. So how does this prequel trilogy tie into the events of the original Planet of the Apes franchise? Where do we leave off in War, and where do we pick up in Planet of the Apes?

Well, while War for the Planet of the Apes does set up some plot elements of the original Planet of the Apes, it can only do so much considering how far apart these movies are taking place. After all, War takes place in 2028, whereas the original takes place in 3978.

But one major way that the movies tie together is that War explains how humanity becomes primitive and loses the ability to talk as is the case in Planet of the Apes. In War for the Planet of the Apes, it is explained that this is a result of the ALZ-112 virus. That makes sense considering the drug was originally developed to cure Alzheimer’s.

Also in War for the Planet of the Apes, we meet the character of Nova, a little girl who has lost the ability to speak for the same reason that many humans have. This is meant to remind us of Nova from the original Planet of the Apes, a grown woman who is not able to speak and who Taylor befriends. However, they are not meant to be the same character; the girl in War is just a different person named Nova who also is unable to speak.

One line of dialogue from The Colonel in War is clearly meant to tie into the original: he predicts that if humanity isn’t careful, they’ll one day be cattle to apes, something that we see play out on screen in Planet of the Apes. 

If you left War feeling like the movie never really bothered to set up Planet of the Apes, that’s partially because this was already accomplished in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In that movie, we see the spacecraft from the original film take off, and later on, a newspaper reveals that the ship has been lost in space. Nearly 2,000 years later, that ship would land back down on Earth, by which point apes have taken over the planet and humans have lost the ability to speak. There’s a bit of an inconsistency there, though, in that in the original film it’s stated that the ship left in 1972, yet in Rise, it leaves in the 2010s.

So we never quite get that moment in War similar to the boarding party in Rogue One, where we suddenly understand what happened immediately before the events of the first film. After all, the apes in Planet of the Apes can speak perfect English, and they wear clothing. The apes when we leave them in War for the Planet of the Apes can speak via sign language and some limited vocabulary, but they are far less advanced than the apes we know from the 1968 version.

However, director Matt Reeves has said that he hopes there are more Planet of the Apes movies that would bring us closer to the 1968 version.

“The world of this movie still doesn’t look like the world of the [19]68 movie,” Matt Reeves recently said in an interview with Screen Rant. “Caesar’s apes are not the same as the apes in that movie. So the idea is we’re kind of telling these giant, epic, almost chapter-after-chapter of a Russian Ape novel. Tolstoy of the Apes – how do we get to that [19]68 movie? So we think there’s a lot more stories.”