So says Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Koba as he reminds his leader Caesar of the many, many scars he incurred in his early life while under human subjugation. Koba was a lab animal, and as such he underwent hundreds of medical experiments and operations, living in a cage when he wasn’t being cut into. The abuse he suffered was physical, as we can plainly see, but it of course went much deeper than that too. Koba was emotionally scarred by the humans as well.
So when the crowd in the Dawn screening I attended cheered as Caesar dropped the traitorous Koba to his death late in the film, I couldn’t help but wonder if these people were watching the same movie as me. For I felt pity for Koba, and while I could see how Caesar came to the decision that he did in executing his former lieutenant -- Koba was too far gone at that point -- I certainly did not feel gratification or bloodlust over the death of the tortured ape. Even Caesar’s justification -- “Koba not ape” -- seemed facile.
Part of that crowd reaction no doubt came from the Hollywood programming that we have all been subject to for decades. I mean, as much as I love Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the “showdown on a high structure culminating in a character dangling one-handed” is a pretty standard action-movie set-up. As my buddy I saw the film with said, it’s the Hans Gruber Scenario. But come on… Koba is no Hans Gruber.
In fact, if one looks back to the previous Apes film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we see that one of the reasons why Caesar ultimately had to kill Koba was because Caesar helped to make Koba in the first place.