How Rises messes with Apes canon (and 3 ways we can fix it all)

Contributed by
Dec 15, 2012

Rise of the Planet of the Apes seemingly contradicts the accepted Planet of the Apes canon. The 1968 Planet of the Apes, loosely based upon Pierre Boulle's 1963 satirical novel, spawned four sequels, a disappointing Tim Burton-helmed remake/re-imagining/relaunch/whatever-you-dub-this-garbage, a short-lived TV show, an animated series and a multitude of comics from a variety of publishers.

The many sources, all of which claim the '68 movie and original novel as inspiration, created a muddled and contradictory history. But for most the only timeline that matters is from the initial five movies (Planet of the Apes, Beneath..., Escape From..., Battle For..., Conquest of...). Now comes Rise, which seemingly undermines one of the series' cornerstone beliefs.

[Spoilers ahead.]

As chronicled in Escape From the Planet of the Apes, the chimpanzees Cornelius and Zira used Taylor's abandoned rocket to escape the dying 40th-century Earth. The explosion propelled the ship backward through time to Earth circa 1973 C.E. Government agents hunt the duo after learning that in some 20,000 years in the future talking apes not only control the Earth but ultimately lead to its destruction (never mind it was actually a man-made device, worshiped by mutated men and triggered by a human time traveler that doomed the planet).

Zira gives birth to a son, Milo. Soon after she and Cornelius are gunned down. Circus owner Armando adopts the infant chimpanzee, renaming him Caesar to hide his identity and setting him up for his future role as savior of the apes. In 1991, the now-grown Caesar leads a revolt that eventually culminates in a world dominated by the apes (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes).

Rise of the Planet of the Apes establishes a new continuity where humans, not a time paradox, established the new order of apes. Though seemingly incongruous, there are three possible ways to have your banana and eat it, too.

Ape Shall Venerate Ape

The First Article of Faith from The Sacred Scrolls:

The almighty created the ape in his own image.

That he gave him a soul and a mind.

That he set him apart from the beasts of the
jungle and made him the lord of the planet.

These sacred truths are self-evident.

The events of Rise show the actual events that lead to the ape uprising. Wanting to further distance themselves from humanity, Caesar's followers, writers of The Sacred Scrolls, created the improbable time paradox of Escape to explain their savior's beginnings.

Abrahams Conundrum

When Cornelius and Zira escaped the dying planet, they appeared years before the experiments outlined in Rise and thus creating an alternate, parallel reality to the "real" reality. Both worlds still exist and progress along similar lines.

Amazingly, Dr. Otto Hasslein first posited this very possibility in Escape:

"I do not find it hard to believe that, in the dark and turbulent corridors of Outer Space, the impact of some distant planetary or even galactic disaster 'jumped' the Apes from their present into ours. And indeed the proof lies in their arrival among us."

Crisis on Infinite Ape Earths

A yet to be recorded cataclysmic multiuniversal event results in the destruction of many aspects of the Planet of the Apes multiverse (films, books, comics, TV shows and cartoons). The surviving universes merge into one common reality. No one within remembers their previous incarnations. Watch for the comic book maxi-series chronicling these events soon.

Can this new addition to Apes lore that clearly contradicts the status quo be accepted by longtime fans and newbies alike? Should an attempt to reconcile the different visions even be attempted? Or should the new origins become the beginnings of a new canon?

Judging from the near-universal praise of Rise of the Planet of the Apes from critics and fans alike, we should all prepare to kneel before our new ape overlords.

(Thanks to Paul O. Miles for his help.)

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