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The Planet of the Apes Handbook From A-Z. That’s A(pe) to (Chimpan)Zee (2024/05/07)- Tickets to Movies in Theaters, Broadway Shows, London Theatre & More

May 7, 202414 Mins Read

Monkey business means big business at the box office, and 2024 marks another milestone for the long-running Planet of the Apes series. The Maze Runner’s Wes Ball is unlocking the cage and letting those anthropomorphic apes free for a whole new era. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is the 10th movie in the franchise, and with 56 years of lore to lean into, there’s a lot to unpack.

While Kingdom is something of a pseudo-sequel to 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes, it finds its home in a timeline of prequels, sequels, remakes, and requels. Here’s the whole A to Z of the Apes franchise, from apes to chimpan(zee).


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Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1968 and 1970)



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Based on Pierre Boulle’s La Planète des singe, the 1963 novel was already being optioned for a movie before it was published. Starting in 1972, a group of four astronauts leads a 700-year mission into space but ends up marooned on a distant planet in 3088. One of them perishes in the crash, leaving the others to be captured by a group of humanoid apes. 

On this strange planet, humans are unintelligent slaves to their monkey masters. Charlton Heston’s George Taylor is the MVP, striking up a bond with Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter) and a mute human female called Nova (Linda Harrison). An orangutan superior known as Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) tries to discover Taylor’s origins, while Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) works with Zira to smuggle Taylor and Nova to the Forbidden Zone.

Zaius admits that he’s known about a pre-simian human species but warns Taylor not to go searching for answers. With The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling co-writing the screenplay, we get one of the most iconic shots in cinema, with Taylor realizing he’s on an apocalyptic future version of Earth where apes have evolved. 



The iconic image of Heston screaming at the Statue of Liberty wasn’t the end of the story. In fact, it was just the start. Heston returns for a supporting role in 1970’s Beneath the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, where James Franciscus’ Brent heads up a mission to search for Taylor. Set just a few months after the first movie, Brent finds Nova and learns that General Ursus (James Gregory) is planning on leading an assault against the Forbidden Zone. There’s also a race of telepathic human mutants who worship an atomic bomb – similar to the one that destroyed Earth centuries ago.

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Ursus’ gorilla army invades the Forbidden Zone after Brent and Taylor are reunited. There’s a massive fight between apes and humans, with the latter ready to set off their doomsday bomb as a last resort. Nova is killed, as are Brent and Ursus, while Taylor tries to stop the nuclear bomb from being detonated. A mortally injured Taylor curses Dr. Zaius and collapses, setting off the bomb. The entire planet of the apes is destroyed, and we cut to white with an ominous narration saying, “Another green and insignificant planet is now dead.”




Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1971, 1972, 1973)



Attempting to retcon Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ glum ending, 1971’s Escape from the Planet of the Apes establishes the Caesar timeline (no, not Andy Serkis). Zira, Cornelius, and Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo) use a repaired spaceship to jump though time and back to Earth in 1973.

After Milo is killed in an accident while in the custody of the Los Angeles Zoo, Zira and Cornelius are forced to attend a Presidential Commission to explain how they came to be. Under the influence of a truth serum from the President’s Science Advisor, Dr. Otto Hasslein (Eric Braeden), Zira reveals all about the apocalyptic future and what awaits the human race. 

Dr. Lewis Dixon (Bradford Dillman) and Dr. Stephanie Branton (Natalie Trundy) help the apes escape, whisking them away to a circus run by Señor Armando (Ricardo Montalbán). Zira gives birth to a son and names him Milo, but when Hasslein tracks the group down to a shipyard, Cornelius is killed by a sniper and Zira crawls to her dying husband. Armando heads to Florida as Milo begins to talk. 




Conquest of the Planet of the Apes picks up in the year 1983 when a mysterious plague wipes out cats and dogs around the globe. At the same time, apes have been thrown into a life of slave labour. Jumping forward again to 1991, Milo is now an adult and goes by the name of Caesar (played by Roddy McDowall). Caesar is sold to be the slave of Governor Breck (Don Murray). Armando dies in police custody, leading to an enraged Ceasar training apes to fight humans. 



Breck’s aide is an African American man called MacDonald (Hari Rhodes), whose heritage makes him a symapthizer with Caesar’s plight. When MacDonald assists Caesar in escaping, he takes over the Ape Management slavery company and sets fire to the city. Breck is marched out, while MacDonald pleads for Caesar not to succumb to the same cruelty as the humans. Caesar’s girlfriend, Lisa (Natalie Trundy) convinces him to stop, and even though he spares Breck’s life, he declares this the birth of the “planet of the apes.”




Battle for the Planet of the Apes is the final entry in the original run of movies and takes place in 2001 – with a wraparound of an orangutan Lawgiver in 2670. In 2001, humanity has been ravaged by nuclear war as Caesar tries to hold peace between apes and the remaining humans while living with Lisa and their son (named Cornelius).

A gorilla general called Aldo (Claude Akins) wants to use humans as slaves to build Ape City, leading to a clash between him and Caesar. Caesar learns that archival footage of his parents is held in the radioactive ruins of the Forbidden City, warning of the future that awaits apekind. General Kolp (Severn Darden) is one of Caesar’s former captors and leads the humans in the Forbidden City.



When Kolp launches an attack on Ape City, Caesar also has to fend off an uprising from Aldo. Cornelius is critically injured by Aldo, and as Caesar tends to his son, the gorillas raid the armory. Kolp’s forces are easily defeated, although Aldo captures the survivors. A final showdown between Caesar reveals Aldo’s role in Cornelius’ death, breaking the sacred rule of “ape shall never kill ape.” The angry apes turn on Aldo, who falls to his death in a fight with Caesar. 

Caesar realizes apes are no better than their former human slavers and finally agrees that both sides should coexist. 600 years after Caesar’s death, the Lawgiver recounts the story to a group of young humans and apes, saying they wish for the day they won’t need their weapons. The final scene is a closeup of a statue of Caesar as a single tear falls from its eye.

Planet of the Apes (2001)



Tim Burton’s now-infamous Planet of the Apes reached for the stars in 2001 and killed the franchise dead for a full decade. Mark Wahlberg plays astronaut Leo Davidson, and echoing the OG Planet of the Apes, he crashes on some unknown planet after heading into an electromagnetic storm to chase a chimp called Pericles in 2029. 




Marooned on the planet Ashlar in the year 5022, a human sympathizer called Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) buys Davidson and a human woman, Daena (Estella Warren), as slaves for her father, Senator Sandar (David Warner). The pair eventually escape but are hunted by the human-hating General Thade (Tim Roth). Leo makes it to the sacred temple of Calima, which he realizes is his Oberon space station that crashed while looking for him. 



The Oberon logs explain how the apes used during space missions had mutinied under an ape called Semos and evolved into the society we see today. As Thade and his apes try to attack Leo and the humans, Pericles arrives in his pod – thought to be the second coming of Semos. Thade and Leo have a climactic fight inside the Oberon, with Thade being defeated but surviving. 

Leo decides he’s going to leave Ashlar and takes Pericles’ pod while leaving the chimp in Ari’s care. He heads back into the electromagnetic storm, but instead of Davidson returning to Earth in the present day, a jaw-dropping ending on a part with 1968’s Planet of the Apes reveals the planet is now ruled by apes. While not as memorable as Taylor and the Statue of Liberty, the closing shot of a Thade-inspired Abraham Lincoln statue is still an iconic moment. 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, War for the Planet of the Apes (2011, 2014, 2017)



Reinvigorating the dormant Ape-Verse after plans for Burton’s movie kickstarting a new franchise flopped, 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes puts a new Caesar (expertly mo-capped by Andy Serkis) as its focus. Scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s in the near future. Will takes in a baby chimp who’s been injected with the ALZ-112 drug, but when there’s an incident with a neighbor, Caesar is sent to a primate shelter.




A new drug called ALZ-113 is given to a bonobo called Koba, who gains the same hyper-intelligence as Caesar. ALZ-113 has an adverse effect on humans, causing the scientist who injected Koba to die, but not before infecting Will’s neighbour. Caesar steals canisters of ALZ-113 and uses them on the other apes in the zoo, who escape and flee to the forest via the Golden Gate Bridge. There a tense showdown between the apes and the police, although Caesar and several others make it to the forest.



Will tries to bring Caesar home, but the chimp says he is home. The movie ends with Will’s infected neighbour boarding a flight at San Francisco airport, triggering a global pandemic. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up 10 years after the deadly Simian Flu infected the world, with only 1 in 500 humans immune to its symptoms. Caesar and a group of intelligent apes live in the woods near San Francisco with his lieutenants, including Maurice the orangutan, Rocket the chimp, Luca the gorilla, and Koba.



Human survivor Malcolm (Jason Clarke) takes his group to a hydroelectric dam in hopes of restoring power to San Francisco, inadvertently injuring Rocket’s son. Caesar demands that the humans stick to their territory and confront the group as a show of power – insisting he doesn’t want a war. Malcolm convinces their leader, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), to try to reconcile with the apes, and an uneasy alliance is brokenred that allows them to work on the dam.




Dreyfus is convinced the humans need to remain armed, helping raid a munitions fort. Koba wants to lead the apes against the humans and drums up support by shooting Caesar while blaming the humans. It turns out Dreyfus wanted power so he could radio a nearby military facility for reinforcements. Things reach a head when Dreyfus attempts a botched suicide mission at a tower filled with the apes.

Caesar kills Koba, and Malcolm warns the apes about the incoming military forces. Caesar addresses the apes and readies them for war, which conveniently ties into the two-year time jump that takes us into War for the Planet of the Apes. As the name suggests, apes are at war with a military force led by a man known only as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson).



The Colonel has recruited a number of apes, who are derogatorily referred to as “donkeys,” and these forces are searching for Caesar’s hideout. Caesar’s son (Blue Eyes) and Rocket return from a recon mission and think there’s a better life waiting for them away from The Colonel’s Alpha-Omega team in a desert oasis. The Colonel’s forces make it to the apes and kill Blue Eyes and Caesar’s wife, Cornelia (Judy Greer). 

Left with no other choice, Caesar tells the tribe to leave for the oasis. When Caesar kills a militiaman, the apes adopt his mute daughter and name her Nova. Caesar is captured and learns that Alpha-Omega is using imprisoned apes to build a wall to keep out the official US Army. The Colonel reveals that Simian Flu has evolved and is turning infected humans into primitive creatures. The Colonel is the ape-hating leader he is because he had to kill his own son after he was infected by the new Simian Flu.




Caesar and the captured apes are freed, but when he goes to kill The Colonel, he discovers the villain has been accidentally infected by Nova. Instead of killing The Colonel, Caesar allows him to commit suicide. The militia and the military lock horns, with apes caught in the crossfire. Caesar detonates a fuel tanker, and the facility is buried in an avalanche as the apes escape up the trees. The surviving apes build their new life in the desert oasis, but Caesar succumbs to his wounds. And so ends this era of the Ape-Verse. 

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024)


This brings us to Wes Ball’s 2024 movie, which like Rise, is tipped to deliver a new trilogy of movies. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is set 300 years after the events of War, with apes continuing to evolve and descending from the ones who made it to Caesar’s oasis. Meanwhile, humans have devolved into a feral state. Ape King Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) wants to discover lost human technology and uses the original Caesar’s teachings to try and enslave other clans.



Noa (Owen Teague) is possibly the descendant of Caesar and sets out on his own journey with a human girl he names Nova (Freya Allen). The future of apes and humans is unclear, although the trailers confirm we’ll get plenty of those iconic shots of apes on horseback. Whether Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a franchise-starting success like Rise or another Burton bomb remains to be seen, but by the looks of it, it’ll be one of the year’s biggest blockbusters. 





Author’s Bio:


Based in Manchester, UK, Tom Chapman has over seven years’ experience covering everything from dragons to Demogorgons. Starting out with a stint at Movie Pilot in Berlin, Tom has since branched out to indulge his love of all things Star Wars and the MCU at Digital Spy, Den of Geek, IGN, Yahoo! and more. These days, you’ll find Tom channelling his inner Gale Weathers and ranting about how HBO did us dirty with Game of Thrones Season Eight.





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