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Is Planet of the Apes Our Future?

What would it take for our future to look like the one depicted in the Planet of the Apes franchise?

We love it when one of our topics needs no introduction. Certainly, you’ve seen at least one movie in the Planet of the Apes franchise, right? One of the most venerated film series in sci-fi history, and with good reason! So in this episode, we’re diving into the central question of the entire franchise: is it possible that apes will evolve far enough to match humans in intellect, reason, and more?

Hakeem will take you through the evolutionary and physiological questions posed by the franchise, as well as some compelling studies that indicate that some elements might just be possible. Tamara breaks down the central concept of ape evolution through the lens of three films in the franchise: the original classic Planet of the Apes (1968), Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake (2011), and series reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011). Get your bananas ready, because we’re (sorry) going ape this week!

Remember that you can join in on the conversation in the comments on our YouTube page, so be sure to like, subscribe, and come back for more!

FURTHER READING 

Do you want to delve a little deeper into the facts, concepts, and stories Hakeem and Tamara referenced in today’s episode? Here are a few recommendations!

Evolution

You can’t discuss anything related to the Planet of the Apes franchise without first understanding the concept that human beings evolved from these relatives of ours. How far we’ve come is another story.

Macaque Speech Experiment

“The narrative my entire life has been that [primates] just don’t have the physiology [for speech]…But it turns out [that macaques] do have all the physiological qualities necessary for speech. But what they don’t have is the brain. If they had a human brain in their physiology, they would be speaking.”

Upright Walking

“Look at the ape behavior in Planet of the Apes. Clearly, it’s a brain change. If you think about it, there’s really three different things. One, they’re thinking like us using emotion and logic. Two, they’re speaking. And three, they’re walking upright, they’re no longer knuckle-walkers. That last one to me is actually the most difficult one, because the research seems to show that if they have the brain change that we’ve already had, and of course we’re relatives, then they could be speaking, being rational, and reasoning the same way we do. But how do you go from knuckle walker to upright walker? That’s another piece of recent research.”

La Planète des singes 

You guessed it, this French novel by Pierre Boulle is better known as the source material for Planet of the Apes! Sometimes you’ll find it under that title, other times as Monkey Planet. Either way, it’s not the exact same story as the film, and features its own twist ending. 

SUGGESTED VIEWING

The Planet of the Apes franchise is VAST and might seem a little intimidating to folks who aren’t familiar with it yet. But for the purposes of what’s discussed in this episode, all you need to watch is Planet of the Apes (the original 1968 classic starring Charlton Heston), the 2001 remake directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg (which is better than you’ve probably heard, but isn’t the most essential entry), and 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which serves as both a reboot of and prequel to the original series of films…and whose sequels lead directly up to this summer’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (in theaters now).

However, for those of you who want to go ape (sorry, sorry, we’re trying to delete it) on the Planet of the Apes franchise, here’s the official Does it Fly? approved viewing order. As a general rule, we firmly believe in watching things in the order they were released, rather than where they take place on the timeline. The franchise begins with five films:

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

These original five movies range from genuine classics (the first is one of the great sci-fi films of all time) to cult flicks that are still absolutely worth your time. Less essential, but still cool for completists, is the 1973-1974 Planet of the Apes TV series, which seems to take place earlier in the timeline than the original films but may or may not be canon. This was followed by an animated series, Return to the Planet of the Apes, which might take place further in the future than Battle for the Planet of the Apes, but in all likelihood isn’t canon at all. Similarly, the 2011 Tim Burton Planet of the Apes movie is a completely different timeline/story, so you can ignore it if you wish (well, except to understand the stuff that we discuss in this episode).

Then there’s the modern series, which could be watched as prequels to the original films, but are really just the start of a brand new franchise. They’re all good, but both Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes (both directed by Matt Reeves of The Batman fame) are two of the best sci-fi movies of the 21st Century. The order is as follows…

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024)

Get watching!

WANT MORE FROM DOES IT FLY?

The new era of Doctor Who is in full swing on Disney+ right now, so in case you missed it, now would be a great time to revisit our Who-centric episode about the TARDIS!

And for everyone keeping up with Star Trek: Discovery every Thursday (as well as Trek fans of all kinds) we broke down the plausibility of the transporter right here.

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