Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Ending Might Have Set Up Fan Favorite Character


This article contains Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes spoilers.

The penultimate scene in Wes Ball’s Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes might be its most important. The chimpanzee they call Noa (Owen Teague) and the young human woman he learns is Mae (Freya Allan) stand at a crossroads for their characters and their species. Despite Noa generally disliking humans, or “echoes,” for their smell and their ignorance, he’s grown attached to Mae, perhaps not least of all because she’s revealed herself to be as intelligent as an ape—if not more so.

Yet Mae, as we learn over the course of the movie, not only retains the intelligence of the species that once dominated this planet but is also the daughter of a thriving remnant of human civilization—men and women who keep the history of what the world was before the Simian Flu reduced us to cattle. And she too has come to care for Noa. But she’s ultimately only human. Hence how in the climactic sequence of the movie, upon realizing that Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) was about to gain access to human firearms, Mae chose to flood the entire silo. She told Noa “I’m sorry” beforehand and then detonated an explosive that could—and very well nearly did—drown the chimp and his entire tribe.

Which brings us back to that bittersweet reunion. At the end of the movie, they are each able to recognize the soulfulness in a species they previously considered lesser, but there can be no trust. Mae in particular has revealed humanity’s intelligence goes hand-in-hand with their duplicity. Look no further than the telling shot of a pistol hidden in Mae’s hand… just in case she needs to put Noa down. It’s the Planet of the Apes franchise in a nutshell. Humans are by our nature covetous and dangerous.

And humanity still has a much bigger role to play in future POTA movies than viewers might have expected when they walked into the cinema. While Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was sold as a new beginning of the series with apes fully in dominance of the Earth, the closing moments of the new film reveal a persistent strand of humanity is hoping to stage a comeback—and before flooding that Silo, Mae might’ve obtained a critical weapon. While we do not know exactly what the technology she stole involved, it clearly gave smart humans the ability to use satellites and communicate with… someone.

What the Ending Cliffhanger Means for the Series

“I thought it was a cool idea that in the beginning you think this is an ape story, and it turns out it’s actually an ape and a human story,” writer-director Ball said when speaking with our own Don Kaye. “The relationship between them is going to be crucial and very important moving forward. And in the end, literally a door opens to reveal there is a much larger world to be explored in the future.”

Ball remains cryptic on what that ending exactly means, and indeed wants audiences to puzzle over where these humans have been. “I imagine there are still many out there, and they’ve somehow been able to survive and they’re starting to move back into places, and trying to turn things back on, to bring back [that] former glory.” But what does former glory mean in a world ruled by monkeys? Well if you paid close attention to the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes ending, you might have gotten A PRETTY BIG CLUE.

During the closing montage, as Mae watches ancient satellite dishes move into position for the first time in centuries, and the control room she aided makes contact with someone out there who has been desperate to hear another human voice, Noa is meanwhile returning to the decrepit observatory he and Mae discovered near the start of the movie. Back then, Noa became fascinated with something he could see in a telescope. It likewise caught Mae’s attention. We never did learn exactly what they were looking at, but when Noa returns to the observatory the film jarringly cuts to a faded mural of an astronaut on the wall. At the same time we see that astronaut floating there, we hear a disembodied human voice express relief at discovering another soul is out there in the aether.

… In other words, there seems to be a strong implication that Mae’s human colony is radioing not someone else across the globe, but someone among the stars. Could Planet of the Apes be bringing some astronauts from centuries past back into the narrative? For those mostly familiar with this franchise thanks to the recent 2010s trilogy starring Andy Serkis, the idea might sound bizarre. After all, we are told “many generations” have passed between the events of War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) and Kingdom. Some press material suggests even more than 300 years have gone by. How could anyone be alive up there?

The answer, of course, is this wouldn’t be the first time Planet of the Apes relied on Einstein’s theory of relativity to bring the 20th century man (or maybe now the 21st) into contact with a world ruled by apes.

“In less than an hour, we’ll finish our six months out of Cape Kennedy, six months in deep space. By our time that is,” Charlton Heston’s Col. George Taylor famously muses in the first scene of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes. “According to [the theory of relativity], the Earth has aged nearly 700 years since we left it while we’ve aged hardly at all.” By arguably being the first science fiction film to address the mind-bending effects of time dilation on space travel, Planet of the Apes was able to set up the motherlode of all twist endings when Taylor eventually discovers the alien planet ruled by apes he crashed onto is actually Earth.

Now nearly 60 years later, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes appears eager to deliberately leave the door ajar for the franchise to go the long-way round to the same narrative setup, with our idea of modern humans coming to a planet ruled by apes. Only this time, we are seeing the situation from the apes’ point-of-view. This has already been teased once before with 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes featuring a newspaper headline asking if beloved astronauts have become “lost in space.”

There seems every reason to speculate that Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is picking up on that thread, and the mysterious object Noa and Mae were watching is the same source of that satellite communication at the end: found astronauts who will bring a distinctly different perspective on Noa’s world.

The post Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Ending Might Have Set Up Fan Favorite Character appeared first on Den of Geek.

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