With Space Chimps officially the most anticipated monkey movie of the summer, it's time to take a serious look at our spacefaring simian cousins. (Especially after we discovered our readers are as obsessed with monkeys as we are.) And it turns out there are way more of them than we'd realized, including space-monkey entrepreneurs, superheroes, supervillains and half-monkey half-robot killers. Click through for the complete list of space-faring simians!
Usually when we throw together a list of "the best this" or "the definitive that," we're willing to concede that we might have missed something. But this time, we're screeching and flinging our own feces with the total confidence that we have covered all of the space monkeys in history. Mostly thanks to the obsessive-compulsive maniacs at Monkey Conspiracy, who compiled an exhaustive list of monkey films. Plus Mr. Monkey's List of Famous Monkeys. Top image from Adrian Platts.
First of all, of course, there are the Planet of the Apes movies, which are almost their own genre. (We won't even get into the thorny question of whether apes are monkeys.) it's the distant future, except in the Burton version where maybe it's an alternate Earth, and apes have taken over, and humans can't talk. It's all part of some bizarro analogy for race relations in America.
Space Chimps, coming this summer, is an animated movie about the grandson of the first chimp in space. Ham III gets blasted into space by an unscrupulous senator. Then, somehow, he gets zapped to a faraway star system, where he has to help overthrow the evil ruler of another inhabited planet. Good thing two other smart, resourceful chimps are on board his spaceship.
Captain Simian & The Space Monkeys. An animated show from the mid-1990s, and yet another story about astronaut monkeys. This time, a monkey-naut in the 1960s gets lost in the outer reaches of space, only to get picked up by a race so advanced, nobody can pronounce their name. The monkey gets an upgrade, including enhanced intelligence and high tech, and recruits a squad of other monkeys to fight a villain who's half-human, half-black hole (and who wants to destroy the universe.)
Lost In Space. The TV show and the movie had many important differences, but one central element remained constant: Penny's space monkey. In the TV show, she befriends a weird alien monkey with long ears named Debbie, or Bloop, after the funny noise she makes. In the movie, the monkey's named Blarp, and instead of being a real chimpanzee with a funny hat, she's CGI mixed with animatronic:
Star Trek: Voyager. In one of the most memorable episodes of Voyager, "Resolutions," Captain Janeway and Chakotay get bitten by an insect, so they can never leave a particular planet. Voyager has to go warping off without them, leaving Janeway and Chakotay to put on funny vests and take up gardening and pandering to J/C shippers. But there's a complication: Janeway meets a cute-ass monkey, who threatens to steal her affections away from Chakotay. Which one will she choose? Luckily, Voyager comes back with a miracle cure before Janeway has to decide. That was close!
2001: A Space Odyssey. There are some apes tossing a bone around on a lazy Sunday, and then a big obelisk/monolith thingy shows up. I don't think the apes ever get into space in this film, but space comes to them. So I'm including it.
Monkeys In Space. A twice-weekly webcomic about a group of monkeys zipping around the galaxy and trying to wipe out the remnants of the human race. And score some bananas:
Moon Pilot. Another movie about chimp astronauts, this 1962 Disney comedy features a space chimp who makes contact with a race of telepathic aliens, who just happen to look like hawt babes. No human astronaut wants to follow in the path of the alien-crazed chimp, until he sticks a fork in a young trainee's ass at a dinner party, prompting the man to volunteer by mistake.
The Right Stuff. NASA wants to send monkeys up into space before it sends up any trained astronauts, prompting the classic line: "The issue here ain't pussy, it's monkey." But why can't it be both?
Robot Monster. An alien invader, looking suspiciously like a man in a gorilla suit with a diving helmet on his head, manages to kill everyone on Earth... except for six people. The film was such a huge disaster, the director reportedly attempted suicide (unsuccessfully.) Here's a clip:
Rocket Man. A spaceship full of humans blasts off into deep space, with the humans in suspended animation. But the ship's resident chimp (you have to have one, it's regulations) accidentally wakes one of the humans up, and he has to spend months entertaining himself while the other humans sleep. Good thing he's got a chimp to keep him company.
Space Ghost. In the original 1967 cartoon, Space Ghost had twin sidekicks, Jan and Jace. (Not unlike the wonder twins in Superfriends.) And Jan and Jace had a pet monkey, Blip. Similarly, the Wonder Twins had their pet blue monkey, Gleek.
The Existential Adventures of ASTRO-CHIMP, First Monkey In Space. An animated program on the Sci Fi Channel, this is yet another astronaut chimp show, which supposedly is incredibly boring and pointless despite its cool name.
The Monkey In The Rocket by Jean Bethell. A children's book about monkeys in the space program. Sample lines: "Sam and Bam are Monkeys. They are very special monkeys that live in a very special place... at the Blue Sky Rocket Base." Sam is the bravest little monkey, who volunteers (sort of) for a one-way trip to the farthest reaches of the universe... and oxygen starvation!
The Scary/Angry Monkey Show. On Invader Zim, Zim's robot servant Gir is obsessed with a TV show that's either called Scary Monkey or Angry Monkey. It seems to consist of a monkey, sometimes wearing a band-aid, looking somewhat pissy or freaky. He's obviously in outer space, or why would he be in such cramped quarters?
Dexter's Laboratory. The monkey Simion gets shot into space and becomes hyper-intelligent (of course) and then becomes a supervillain. His dastardly scheme: Invade Earth to get revenge on all the humans who helped make him the megalomaniac he is.
Monkey Business by J. Otto Sebold and Vivian Walsh. The first monkey in space, conveniently called Space Monkey, comes back to Earth and starts a business to capitalize on his fame: he builds a supercomputer that turns out objects that look like cubist cupcakes. Nobody's sure what they are, but they're tremendously popular. Then it turns out if you point a TV remote control at the objects, they open up into tiny apartments.