Disney Just Retconned a Major Planet of the Apes Scene

By John Ross Bradford Posted:
Caesar, Planet of the Apes, Disney logo

Disney just retconned some major details in the Planet of the Apes franchise after Marvel Comics released a new issue of the same name.

2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes introduced Caesar, the genetically-enhanced chimp who was a byproduct of Gen-Sys Laboratories' experiments to cure neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. The rebooted film followed Caesar's evolution and his first stand against humans.

The subplot of the film teased that humans wouldn't respond well to the Gen-Sys retrovirus ALZ-113 that improved the chimps' brain capacity, and a post-credits scene implied that a full-fledged pandemic would ensue once the virus got out. 

This ended up only serving as exposition for the next two movies. However, 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes left many details of the pandemic a mystery as they chose to instead focus on the aftermath of the outbreak more than 10 years later. 

Despite the trilogy of films largely focusing on Caesar and his evolution, Disney is now interested in expanding on the Planet of the Apes universe with fresh stories, and the company retconned some major story details in doing so. 

Planet of the Apes Battle Retconned by Disney 

The comic book continuation titled Planet of the Apes goes back through the events of the rebooted film franchise and takes a closer look at how humans perceived and responded to the events of the trilogy, and it fittingly changes a few details along the way. 

As the ALZ-113 virus overtook the world, the new comic asserts that "many people looked for someone or something to blame for the deadly disease." Apparently, many humans quickly developed a "misplaced belief that simians were responsible" for the outbreak thanks to the media calling it "the Simian Flu." 

Planet of the Apes comic panel
Marvel Comics

With that in mind, the climax of Rise of the Planet of the Apes which features Caesar and the escaped primates clashing with the local military has been given a name, now being referred to as "the Golden Gate Ape Uprising." 

Planet of the Apes comic panel
Marvel Comics

The most interesting change here, though, is that this comic calls San Francisco "ground zero for the (Simian) Flu" while recapping the Golden Gate Ape Uprising, indicating the outbreak began before the brawl on the iconic California bridge. 

That, combined with the fact that the ALZ-113 retrovirus improved the apes while it killed humans, led "to the unchecked fear and hatred of all primates" before any altercation between man and the newly-enhanced chimps even occurred. 

Why the Updated History of Disney's Apes?

Disney likely retconned these details to help establish a human hatred for primates on a global scale. Why? Because the movies only made humans hate Caesar. 

By the end of Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, the future of the franchise was split in two. For the next movie, audiences could either continue following Caesar after he’s escaped to the Redwood Forrest, or they could watch the world burn in the sequel as the Simian Flu wipes out most of Earth's population. 

Map of Virus Outbreak, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
20th Century Studios

Since the first film's final scene already teased the latter, the filmmakers chose to go with the former idea and did a 10-year follow-up on Caesar and the community that's thrived under his leadership in 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

That decision was pivotal because it focused the franchise on Caesar rather than the bigger picture. The fate of the infected human population was relegated to a forgotten post-credits scene as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continued to follow the evolution of the genetically-enhanced primate. This meant that any details about mankind's survival in the trilogy simply served the same purpose as the ALZ-113 virus itself: to help develop the apes. 

Because of this, any major conflict in the Planet of the Apes film franchise traces back to Caesar rather than primates in general. The stories that the movies have told thus far don't explain why the rest of the world would hate primates, so Disney is subtly making it happen in Marvel Comics. 

Will Disney's Changes Help Planet of the Apes? 

Before, the blame for the viral outbreak of ALZ-113 was purely placed on humankind as man took science one step too far. However, the Planet of the Apes comic is trying to change that. 

Since the Golden Gate Ape Uprising happened before the virus began to spread across the world in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it would've been tough for the media to relate a battle that already happened to an outbreak that's happening in real time. 

Caesar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
20th Century Studios

In contrast, now that the viral outbreak has been retconned to have already begun by the time the public watched apes clash with humans, the media can take that story and run with it in any direction that helps them find "someone or something to blame" for the rapid spread of "the deadly disease." 

Now, the comic is using the humans' anger toward the apes to introduce compelling stories during the time between the films. In the debut issue, a religious terrorist organization called Exercitus Viri, which translates to "Army of Man," positions itself against any and all apes during the pandemic, claiming they the species needs to be eradicated if humanity wants to survive. 

Even after the terrorist group continues to attack various humanitarian efforts to protect the apes, the in-universe media also attempts to turn the public against the primates, saying that the virus kills humans and it "kills those (they) love," but it "doesn't kill apes." Yes, even a fictional pandemic features an emotional and manipulative mainstream media, which seems to be developing as its own subplot in Disney's expanding Apes universe. 

If the company is looking to expand the Planet of the Apes franchise and tell new stories, then Disney likely won't want to use the same ape that the last trilogy followed. 

Ultimately, the new Planet of the Apes comic is filling in the gaps to keep the rivalry alive between man and ape, making the issues less about Caesar and more about mankind as it rearranges some of the movies’ biggest events. 

Disney is currently developing the next film in the franchise, titled Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

- About The Author: John Ross Bradford
John Ross Bradford is an editor and writer at The Direct. He has contributed to content ideation and development across multiple branches of the company's website since it launched in 2020.