MVPs: My 5 Favorite Apes

Went to see Kong: Skull Island and came out of it somewhat elated - great fun flick! - so I thought I'd go with that feeling and give you some favorite apes from fiction. Where does Kong himself figure? Well, you'll have to read further, but the last time I did one of these, he came in at #5 on a list of 10 favorite kaiju. Boy, after this week, he's climbing that list like it's the Empire State Building. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Here then are my 5 top choices for favorite fictional apes...
5. Sam Simeon. The Ape in Angel and the Ape. There are many smart gorillas in comics, and the spot might have gone to, say, Marvel's Gorilla Man, but Sam is more sympathetic and more interesting. He's a private eye. He's an artist. He's a bit of a hippie. He's been non-verbal and well-spoken. He's been a citizen of Gorilla City and not. He's been at Vertigo. He's even got his imitators (or are you telling me Monkeyman and O'Brien isn't based on Angel and the Ape?). His lack of consistent presence keeps him at #5, but he's definitely on the list.
4. Detective Chimp. When an adjunct to Rex the Wonder Dog, something I only really knew about from Who's Who anyway, I didn't care for Detective Chimp. But when they gave him a spot in Secret Origins, and revealed tiny ape-like aliens rewired his brain so they could momentarily "drive" him, well... It suddenly became important that he appear again. By the time he joined Shadowpact, he was talking (and drinking), and on par with Batman in the detective arena.
3. Caesar. While I was a fan of the original Planet of the Apes, the franchise quickly devolved into silliness, and I hated the Burton remake. The new franchise showing how Earth BECOMES the Planet of the Apes though? Love it. And Caesar is definitely its star. Heck, there was even a push to have his mo-cap actor get an Academy Award nomination. Animators will say Andy Serkis didn't do it alone, but it's still a testament to how great the Ape hero's performance is. It's hard to believe ANY CG creatures look bad nowadays when Dawn and Rise made us absolutely forget they were real. Can't wait for the thirs installment of his story.
2. Monsieur Mallah. DC Comics scores a third spot, this time with a villain. You can keep your Gorilla Grodd - I never liked him - for my money, it's all about the Doom Patrol's antagonist French (French!) ape, a gorilla who dresses like a WWII resistance fighter, and who is deeply in love with the Brain, the villain to whom he would cursorily appear to be the henchman. For anyone who's been told their love was forbidden despite it being between consenting adults, here's a character that shows there's no such thing.
1. King Kong (monstrous). My podcasting friend Rob Kelly recently said on Film & Water, in reference to the original Kong, that he wasn't a giant gorilla, he was a monster, and that he felt that was a problem with Peter Jackson's version. It blew my mind because that's absolutely correct. It's like doing a Godzilla movie and turning GZ into a gigantic T Rex. After seeing Skull Island, I quickly perused the IMDB page and the top user review at the time hated it and criticized the fact that Kong was an ape-man, not a gorilla. Sorry IMDB user, I think you're dead wrong. The Kong of Skull Island IS the Kong of the original film, just as monstrous, just as ferocious, a monster killer worshipped by island people who won't stand for his turf being invaded or for people putting chains on him. A beast soothed by a tiny beauty. Something of the Gothic. NOT one of Jane Goodall's noble animals. So Kong IS King on my list, but let's be clear that I mean THIS take on him. Which just happens to be the original take, and was perfectly rendered in the movie that's in theaters right now. And folks, he's not fully grown yet. My boy GZ better watch his back.

It's entirely possible, in fact probable, I didn't mention one of your favorites. Calm down, have a banana, and let me know in the comments.


Twistyarm said...

As for the DCU, I've always enjoyed the third most important simian in Superman's life: Koko the space monkey. There's something gloriously silver age about a megalomaniacal 12th level intellect, cold and cruel, plotting the subjugation of Kandor with a pet monkey on his shoulder. Also loved the Brainiac 5 version, of course.

Michael May said...

Dear Sir, I object strongly to the obvious lack of Gorilla Grodd in your list.

Yours sincerely etc., William Knickers


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