The Important Lesson Planet Of The Apes Is Taking From Chris Nolan’s Batman Movies

War For The Planet Of The Apes

There are few rebooted franchises in history that have been as successful as Planet Of The Apes. While the old films still stand the test of time, the new run of movies -- including Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes - present the same story in a shockingly fresh and inventive way -- earning both the applaud of critics and the fanhood of audiences. It's all thanks to the way the filmmakers decided to approach the modern version of the story, and it turns out that was an element that was heavily inspired by what Christopher Nolan did with the Dark Knight trilogy.

Taking a Batman Begins-esque perspective on the new Planet Of The Apes movies was one thing that we discussed with producer Dylan Clark while on the set of the upcoming War For The Planet Of The Apes. Back in January, I joined a small group of journalists in Vancouver, Canada to visit the production during filming, and one of the first things we did was sit down with Clark and have an in-depth conversation about the new film and the franchise as a whole. Speaking to the reboot's relationship with the original series, Clark noted that what Christopher Nolan did with the Caped Crusader was very motivating when Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was developing, as it got them to think about new avenues for the core ideas rather than repeated roads. Clark explained,

Chris Nolan is brilliant, right? Batman, everybody knows who Batman is, but Chris Nolan said, 'No, no, no, you don't. Let me tell you. Let me tell you what Batman is. I'm going to tell you the beginning of Batman and I'm going to give you his mythology.' We're not as big as Batman. We're not as good as Chris Nolan, but we looked at that and went, 'Oh, well, that's right. That's what people want.' You're going to show them these franchises in different lights. Do it in a different way. Give them some different stuff to chew on, and make it about things that they're dealing with now, or else it will feel a little bit antiquated or outdated or just feel like a bad remake, which we've seen.

Dylan Clark didn't mention it directly, but even the Planet Of The Apes franchise is guilty of making these kinds of past mistakes. Tim Burton's 2001 remake of the 1968 classic was a financial hit, and definitely featured some amazing make-up, but it was snubbed by critics and failed to have any pop culture permanence it was just a retelling of a story everybody knew. Similar to the way that Christopher Nolan reintroduced audiences to a world everybody thought they knew with Batman Begins, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes presented a whole new way to look at Planet Of The Apes movies, and the results have been terrific.

Of course, this thinking continues to have a direct effect on the way that the movies are being made, and it is something that they are considering when it comes to Easter eggs and references. Dylan Clark noted that they have to be careful when it comes to that stuff because it has the potential of getting in the way of originality and creativity -- and even mentioned that he still doesn't love the most prominent one in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. Therefore, it's never part of the narrative-building process. Said the filmmaker,

The first one we did some Easter eggs. We shot the Icarus. It wasn't my taste, but we even used some dialogue from the original. There were some fights about that one. The second one... there are certain characters and there are certain things that you will see in this movie [War For The Planet Of The Apes] too, so you know, again, we pay some homage, some of it is just cool for the mythology, but we're never sitting in our story meetings going how do we link up to what they did in Beneath or 'God, they did that in Conquest, can we do a version of it better?' Never.

Both Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes have been tremendously successful, and our hopes are high that War For The Planet Of The Apes will continue that trend. A big part of that is everything that we got to learn about the movie while we were on set, so be sure to stay tuned here on Cinema Blend for more about our experience!

War For The Planet Of The Apes will be in theaters on July 14, 2017.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.