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Among the new characters War for the Planet of the Apes is introducing is Bad Ape (played by Steve Zahn), a chimpanzee who's smart like the apes in Caesar's tribe, but has been living on his own. The War trailers have presented Bad Ape as being eccentric because of his time in isolation, but according to director Matt Reeves, the character is important to the future of Apes reboot series because he represents the wider world of Apes beyond Caesar and his followers. Reeves explained:
There are apes who grew up without the benefit of Caesar's leadership and they might not just be pockets of one or two, there might be actually colonies, and might that be where future conflicts come for Caesar's apes? They have the benefit of the integrity that he's instilled in them, so what's going to happen when they encounter others who didn't have that?
When Caesar released the ALZ-113 gas at the primate shelter, he boosted the intelligence of all its inhabitants, and most of those apes have been the core members of his tribe in the years following. But as the ALZ-113 virus (contracted by Will Rodman's neighbor, Douglas Hunker) spread across the world and killed off most of the human population, it would also seem that it functioned just like the concentrated gas and increased the intelligence of all apes elsewhere, whether they were wild or lived in captivity. So Caesar's tribe is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to ape society in this brave new world, but as Caesar learned when he battled Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, just because apes are all smart doesn't mean they'll all get along. You know, like how it is with humans.
Matt Reeves also laid out to Yahoo Movies that while this reboot series is still a long ways away from meeting up with the original Planet of the Apes movie, War for the Planet of the Apes does set up how Earth as we knows it is on a trajectory to turning into the alien-like world seen in the 1968 blockbuster. Reeves continued:
You realize that evolution -- 5000 years of evolution -- after the humans have destroyed themselves, have allowed the apes to take over the planet. That's accelerated and changed dramatically through the ALZ-113 in Rise (the manmade virus that decimated humans), so they'll never meet up, but what it does is it tells the end of the story in a way that is taking all of these stories and removing the question of 'what happened?' and instead focussing it on the 'how?' So this ends up getting to be a blockbuster that's all about character and all about the sort of thematic, of us holding the mirror up to ourselves.
War for the Planet of the Apes will wrap up the conflict between apes and humans that began at the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, with Caesar leading the apes and Woody Harrelson's Colonel McCullough leading the humans. Bad Ape will presumably aid Caesar to the best of his ability during the story, and the outcome of this war will determine what becomes the dominant species on Earth.
You can watch the video below to learn about Bad Ape's background before catching the third Apes reboot entry.
War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on July 14.