Proximus Caesar In ‘Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Explained: Is Proximus Dead?

One of the prominent features of the Planet of the Apes franchise is that the binary that exists between apes and humans ends up being emphasized through a moral lens and via subversive takes, which acts as a symbolical presentation of the treatment of the marginalized in ‘civilized’ society. However, the ape antagonists who exist on the fringes of the binary, as traits of humans and apes seamlessly intermingle in their characterization, make for the most intriguing discourse involving the two species. In the original series, the orangutan Dr. Zaius played such a role as the ape leader of science and religion; in the rebooted trilogy, Koba, the human-hating Bonobo, made quite an impact as the usurper; and in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, the tyrant Bonobo monarch, Proximus Caesar, has left a strong impression on viewers in a short span of time. Despite the character being a proper example of the worst traits of humankind, Proximus’ ideas and motives make much sense in the context of the movie without the writers resorting to the ‘misunderstood villain’ trope.


Spoilers Ahead

What Makes Proximus a Formidable Antagonist?

Proximus’ arc is intricately linked with the savior of the ape kind, Caesar himself, as is indicated by his self-taken name. The most notable trait of Proximus is his intelligence, which at times rivaled that of the human characters as well. The most striking feature of Proximus’ lair in the abandoned ship is his library full of books, and as we learn its significance, we realize the way the ape has wielded his intelligence as his greatest weapon. During the initial phase of the movie, it was revealed by Raka that the earliest of the intelligent apes, Caesar’s associates, knew to read books—an ability that was lost in later generations. Coincidentally, Proximus had come across Trevathan, a human unaffected by the Simian Flu but, most importantly, having the ability to read. As Trevathan was contend with living as Proximus’ captive, he read him details about human civilization, technology, warfare, history, literature, etc. It is from this knowledge that Proximus came to know about the truth about humanity’s history as the advanced dominant species of the past, and the more he learned about their achievements, the more fascinated he became. From his fascination with Roman history, he fashioned himself the name Proximus. Whatever little he had known about Caesar’s teachings, he cunningly twisted to appear as his apostle, like the corrupt flag bearers of religion in real life. The noble motto ‘Apes together strong,’ which represented the brotherhood among simians, was turned into a vile instrument of subjugation, which was used by Proximus to strengthen his position as a monarch. 


Another coincidence that worked perfectly in Proximus’ favor was the interaction between the bunker-dwelling surviving humans and Proximus’ ape soldiers. As the apes killed all the human researchers (except Mae, who escaped), Proximus was able to gain a map that detailed the destinations of the humans and a silo where the technology and weapons of bygone era were stored. Already enchanted by the advancements of humans, an ambitious Proximus wanted to obtain the treasure of the silo, which he believed would grant him the ability to build a kingdom like the human emperors of the past. His ambition was backed by his penchant for cruelty, as he enslaved other ape clans, like Noa’s Eagle Clan. Truly, like the tyrants of the past, Proximus had no aversion to oppressing his subjects. To convince other apes about his ‘rightful’ motive, a bit of charisma and perversion of Caesar’s words proved to be enough, if their morale hadn’t been broken under his tyranny already. 

Proximus knew the true face of humanity

There is a point of similarity between Proximus and Caesar’s friend turned adversary, Koba, as both of them have realized the dark depths humanity can stoop to. In the case of Koba, he was subjected to human brutality from an early point in his life and didn’t have the privileged position of Caesar to experience their kindness. In a sense, Koba was right not to trust humans, having a deep-seated hatred for them. Although Proximus didn’t interact with humans that much except for the cowardly Trevathan, his knowledge of human history was enough for him to realize the human vices and their potential for exploitation. Therefore, he had much admiration for human achievements, but he harbored only hatred and mistrust for them. 


In fact, when he is warning a captive Noa not to put his trust in Mae, he is stating the truth, which Noa eventually comes to understand too late. Hell, if not for his selfish intentions and sadistic demeanors, Proximus could have become a great ruler solely due to his knowledge and intelligence. During his last conversation with Mae, Noa eventually acknowledges the truth of Proximus’ advice about not trusting humans, and with his realization finding acceptance in Noa’s developing ideology, Proximus establishes himself as another well-written character in the “Planet of the Apes” franchise.

Is Proximus Dead at the End?

During the ending battle of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, Noa and his clan members summoned the eagles of their clan to throw Proximus off the silo entrance cliff, and the despot fell to the ocean to his death. With the silo flooded and Proximus’ army gone as well, Proximus’ grand dream of building an empire fades away as well. However, the possibility of a similar threat rising in the future remains, as the ideas didn’t die. Proximus’ actions have hinted at the possibility of apes becoming empowered using the technology left by humans, which will definitely be used as a key plot point in upcoming movies. 


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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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