Planet of the Apes

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Plot Details Reveal a Unique Twist

Hail, Caesar!

They came, they saw, they conquered: the most recent chapter in the saga of Earth’s superintelligent primates closed with a victory for the apes and a lamentation for the hairy face of their revolutionary, Caesar.

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), directed by Matt Reeves, was a gritty, action-packed, and emotional culmination of Caesar’s (Andy Serkis) journey, first as a clever and curious baby chimpanzee in James Franco’s arms, then as a rebellious leader who unleashes a virus that nearly wipes out the human race, and finally as a compassionate war hero advocating for the rights of his fellow apes.

Though War for the Planet of the Apes only came out six years ago, 20th Century Studio’s Ape series will be getting its first (of potentially several) “legacy sequels” sooner than expected. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is slated to hit theaters in May 2024.

“Legacy sequel” is in quotes because Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will slightly subvert the category’s norms. Instead of incorporating the original protagonists and reestablishing their importance to the story à la Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World, and the latest Star Wars trilogy, Kingdom will follow the continuity of Rise, Dawn, and War without the Moses-like Caesar’s presence.

The “legacy” part of the legacy sequel will be taken literally: Caesar’s son, Cornelius (Owen Teague), will carry his father’s torch and serve as a central focus alongside newcomer primates played by Kevin Durand and Peter Macon, and a human woman, played by The Witcher’s Freya Allan. Unlike Rise, which was directed by Rupert Wyatt, and Dawn and War, which were directed by Matt Reeves, Kingdom will be helmed by director Wes Ball, known best for The Maze Runner and its sequels.

Kingdom is set several years after the conclusion of War. Humans have been reduced to an almost feral and mostly nonverbal existence, and apes are at the top of the food chain. Some groups of these primates have never heard of Caesar, while others have contorted his teachings for their own selfish gain. One ape leader (Durand) is enslaving other clans to salvage human technology, while Cornelius (Teague) embarks on a journey to free them. He enlists the aid of a human (Allan), but she has her own plans for liberation.

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), starring Andy Serkis as Caesar and Amiah Miller as Nova.

20th Century Studios

The Inverse Analysis — Is the timing right for this legacy sequel? The rebooted franchise has barely been able to, well, leave a legacy. The five Apes movies from the ‘70s had plenty of time to marinate in pop culture before being reimagined by Tim Burton in 2001, only to regain relevancy and renewed interest again with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011. There hasn’t really been enough time between War and Kingdom for nostalgia to kick in (or for visual effects to advance much, a common justification for the necessity of legacy sequels).

Perhaps, then, it’s better to think of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes as a long overdue fourth installment of the rebooted series, rather than as a sequel to a trilogy. Will Caesar’s son be able to captivate audiences the same way his father did? We’ll soon find out.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes swings to theaters on May 24, 2024.

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