Director Insists ‘War For the Planet of the Apes’ Nova Is A Brand-New Character

This article CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS for War For the Planet of the Apes.

Fans of the original Planet of the Apes film from 1968 will remember Nova – the mute, primitive woman played by Linda Harrison encountered by Charlton Heston’s astronaut, Taylor.

In War For the Planet of the Apes, we’re also introduced to a character called Nova, a mute human girl. But director Matt Reeves dispels the notion that this is one and the same character.

“Obviously, Nova is a character who relates to Nova – isn’t literally Nova – but is related to the trajectory of why can’t the humans speak,” says Reeves. “Well, Nova is our answer for why the humans don’t speak in the ‘68 movie.”

She exists as an homage to that film rather than a direct link. Although with the plan for the rebooted films to lead up to the point where Planet of the Apes picks up, it’s possible that she could be an ancestor of the Nova we meet in the 1968 film, which is set in the year 3978.

War For the Planet of the Apes_Nova
Nova, with orangutan Maurice

Nova also seems to exist to offer some kind of hope that there could be a way for humans and simians to co-exist harmoniously, although Reeves suggests that she’s simply representative of the kind of humans we might meet on the journey leading up to Planet.

“I think the Colonel is right,” he says of Woody Harrelson’s character’s belief that mankind is doomed. “Because we know in the ‘68 film that that’s the world it becomes. So we were acting in that manner, which is to say that it ends up a ‘planet of the apes’, in which the humans are their cattle – which is literally what Woody says. But we’re still not there yet so how that journey works and which intelligent humans we might encounter from here to there and all of those details are like the giant Russian novel, the chapters of the Russian novel that takes us to the end of the story.”

Reeves also says that Nova isn’t the only reference to the original films.

“The Alpha Omega, that’s a reference to Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” says Reeves. In War, the Alpha Omega symbol is associated with a renegade military unit headed up by Woody Harrelson’s Colonel. In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the symbol is found on an atomic bomb.

“There’s a lot of details that these films all sort of vibrate against. It’s not like we’re ever meaning to remake, but we’re trying to exist in the context,” explains Reeves.

Watch Reeves discuss Nova and the Planet of the Apes mythology in the video above.

War For the Planet of the Apes hits screens in the UK on July 11 and in the US on July 14.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.