Why Nova in ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Isn’t Meant to Be the Nova From the Original

Writer Mark Bomback says they named the apes’ human buddy Nova to show how history repeats itself

WARNING: Contains major spoilers for “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Fans of the classic “Planet of the Apes” from nearly 50 years ago got a surprise when it was announced that the latest installment in Fox’s reboot series, “War for the Planet of the Apes,” would see Caesar and his fellow apes joined by a mute human girl named Nova, making some wonder if this girl would grow up to be the mute human woman encountered by Charlton Heston’s doomed astronaut George Taylor in the 1968 film.

Well, it turns out that’s not the case. In an interview with TheWrap, “War” writer Mark Bomback said that while their Nova was inspired in part by the original Nova, she wasn’t meant to be the exact same character. Bomback explained that he and director Matt Reeves first came up with the idea to add a mute human child into the story, with the idea for her famous name coming later in the writing process.

“I don’t remember exactly how it came up, but during one of our spitball sessions we realized, ‘Hey! Bad Ape has all these trinkets. What if one of them is the word ‘Nova’ and we can call her ‘Nova’?'” Bomback said. “We loved the idea she was called that, but it never was meant to be that she was the ancestor of the Nova in the ’68 film or that she’s going to grow up to be that character. It was more that we wanted to convey the idea that history is unwittingly cyclical.”

To further that theme, Bomback and Reeves added other references to the classic “Planet of the Apes” films that are a bit more obscure than Nova herself. In the Colonel’s base, the soldiers start each day by declaring they are “The Alpha and the Omega.” In the original’s 1970 sequel, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes,” an underground civilization of mutated humans worship a nuclear bomb they call the “Alpha-Omega Bomb.” Bomback also pointed to a scene where Caesar discovers apes tied to cross-shaped racks the Colonel’s men use to torture apes to death. The racks were designed to resemble the scarecrows from the ’68 film that mark the entrance to the Forbidden Zone, where Taylor discovers the Statue of Liberty at the end of the film.

“Nova’s name is more about this unwitting pattern that keeps repeating through history,” Bomback said, noting that what’s most important about Nova is how she restores Caesar’s compassion for humans that he had in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” but loses in this film after his encounter with the Colonel.

“He’s reluctant to bond with her, but being with her over time reminds him that humans are worth saving even if the vast majority of the ones that are left want to destroy him.”

For more of Bomback’s interview about “War for the Planet of the Apes” with TheWrap, including how they designed the series’ newest ape, Bad Ape, and the films that inspired their story, click here.