Is Koba Really Dead in ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’?

     December 9, 2016

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At the end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, audiences were divided on one pressing issue: Was Koba (Toby Kebbell) really dead? On the ‘Yes, of course, he’s dead’ side: Koba fell down hundreds of feet into a fiery pit of doom. Typically you don’t get to see Tuesday after that. On the ‘Who knows? Maybe he survived’ side: Koba’s heavy breathing can be heard during the end credits of Dawn, perhaps suggesting a return appearance for Caesar’s best-friend-turned-arch-nemesis. So which way is it?

On the set for War for the Planet of the Apes, producer Dylan Clark dashed the dreams of many Koba-Lives advocates – “I can tell you 100% Koba’s not alive in this movie,” Clark stated bluntly. However Clark admitted originally there was talk, especially during the post-production of Dawn to keep Koba alive for subsequent sequels.

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Image via 20th Century Fox

Per Clark, “There was talk… Matt and I — we loved Toby Kebbell. Koba’s a great character. He was great for entertainment and for Caesar… Caesar loved Koba. He was his brother until the humans showed up and Koba couldn’t contain his rage. We loved what that said about the world but we also loved what it said emotionally for these two characters. We were really sad to see [Koba] in visual effect meetings tumble down three hundred feet and die in a fiery ball of hell. They wouldn’t have done that to Darth Vader… So we were like ‘God – did we make a mistake killing Koba?’ But again we have to look each other in the eyes and say – ‘could anybody survive that fall? For real?’ And the answer is no.”

Koba’s presence though will still be felt in War for the Planet of the Apes both emotionally and physically. Caesar will be struggling with the “guilt” of killing an ape, haunted by this single action. But even more so – Koba’s murder will further divide the apes. “There was already a big faction. We couldn’t get too deep in with those characters with Koba but there were a lot of Koba sympathizers. There were a couple guys sitting on the rock basically flipping Caesar off…” Dylan revealed, “…[They] didn’t agree with how Caesar was leading the apes and in this movie there is conflict within the apes. There are some apes that have not been on Caesar’s side. How far will they go to survive?”

Meanwhile on set, Matt Reeves called action as a number of apes (i.e. MoCap dotted actors) were led into a snowy internment camp by military-garbed humans. However something seemed amiss. On the monitor, I could make out other MoCap dotted actors leading the charge with the military humans. Could it be apes leading other apes into these internment camps? Later production art confirmed the sight – a faction of the apes (remnants from the Koba supporters) will defect from Caesar’s group and join up with the humans against him.

So yes – Koba is 100% dead but his presence will still be 100% felt in War for the Planet of the Apes.

War for the Planet of the Apes opens July 14, 2017. For the rest of our set visit coverage, peruse the links below.

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