Evolution has always represented a major theme of the Planet of the Apes franchise. Not just in the sense that the series revolves around our less-evolved ape brethren attaining sentience, but also in the way the films have changed in recent years. The newly rebooted Apes continuity will continue to expand with next summer's War for the Planet of the Apes, and it looks like it's going to be the darkest chapter in Caesar's life yet. Check out the first official teaser for the film below.

20th Century Fox has just released the first official teaser for War for the Planet of the Apes in the form of this "digital billboard," and it promises a dark and gritty adventure. Although the teaser in question does not actually feature any genuine footage from the film itself, it utilizes a voiceover from Caesar (Andy Serkis) as snow starts to fall over a dark background. Slowly but surely the snow begins to accumulate to the point where we can make out the unmistakable face of the hyper-intelligent chimp at the center of the franchise, and Caesar's lines from the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ominously warn of a looming battle. If you're a fan of the franchise, this should give you chills.

War for the Planet of the Apes will take all of the beautifully crafted digital action that we have seen from the last two installments of the series, and finally bring it firmly into the war genre. The film will center on a full-scale military conflict between forces led by Caesar and a "ruthless Colonel" (Woody Harrelson), in a war that will ultimately decide which species becomes the dominate, ruling force of planet Earth (admittedly the title is kind of a spoiler).

The most interesting thing to note about this teaser trailer is the fact that it promises arguably the most somber Planet of the Apes movie to date. Over the course of the newly rebooted franchise, each film has become progressively darker with each passing installment. This appears to reflect the growing disillusionment of Caesar himself, who has gone from innocent ape, to revolutionary, to grizzled military leader. For a mo-cap character, Caesar has honestly become one of the most compelling franchise leads in recent years.

In keeping with the tradition of the rebooted Planet of the Apes continuity, War will keep Andy Serkis' Caesar as the central focus of the film, while introducing a brand new cast of human characters for him to interact with. Rise of the Planet of the Apes centered on Caesar's relationship with Will Rodman (James Franco), and Dawn evolved the series as Caesar bonded with a human known as Malcolm (Jason Clarke). For the third installment, War for the Planet of the Apes will bring in series newcomers such as the aforementioned Woody Harrelson and Gabriel Chavarria as a character named "Preacher."

With a bloody war on the horizon, we have a distinct feeling that there will be plenty of human and ape casualties in the very near future. We will know for certain once War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters next summer on July 14, 2017.

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