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Does Caesar Die In ‘War For The Planet Of The Apes’? – We Got This Covered

Planet of the Apes has quietly been one of the best movie franchises of the 21st century. Nobody expected Rise of the Planet of the Apes to be as good as it was back in 2011, and the series has just gotten better and better thanks to the work of director Matt Reeves on 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes. These are sci-fi epics that grapple with complex ideas, and they present, in Caesar, one of the most effective depictions of a CG-rendered character in all of cinema.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes picks up where the previous trilogy left off, which is to say, after the apes have conquered humanity. The upcoming blockbuster will shift the focus to the hunger for power and political turmoil that corrupts the primates in charge, but those who watched the Kingdom trailer may have noticed that someone is missing.

Caesar, the focus of the previous three films, is nowhere to be found. Some have theorized that the character is simply being withheld to drum up anticipation, while others posit that Caesar died in the years between War and Kingdom. Which is it? Well, here’s what you need to know ahead of the new film.

Yes, Caesar died in War for the Planet of the Apes

Caesar was the undoubted protagonist of the 2011-17 Apes trilogy. He was a fascinating character who underwent staggering personal and evolutionary change and literally remade the world in his image. War for the Planet of the Apes culminated with Caesar taking out the last realistic credible threat that mankind posed, and guiding his primate followers to the “oasis.” Shortly after arriving, however, Caesar succumbs to a gunshot wound he suffered at the hands of a human. Caesar dies a hero, and the film ends with the rest of ape-kind acknowledging him as the greatest ape who ever lived.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is the start of a new chapter. It takes place 300 years after the events of War for the Planet of the Apes, so even if Caesar was able to survive his injuries in the aforementioned film, he would have died of old age. Tragic as the character’s outcome may have been, it was always the plan for Caesar actor Andy Serkis and War director Matt Reeves.

They told Screen Rant that they wanted Caesar to be viewed as a “Moses” figure by the end of the film, and he could only achieve this mythic status by sacrificing himself. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes explores the world that Caesar helped to create. The good aspects and the bad. It’s a story that wouldn’t possible to tell were he still alive.

Caesar’s legacy looms over the new characters

Image via 20th Century Studios

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes introduces Proximus Caesar, a leader who claims to be a descendant of his namesake. He frames himself in the same mythic fashion as Caesar, but his brutality and his megalomania reflect more the personality of villainous apes like Koba (who perished after challenging Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).

Kingdom director Wes Ball talked about the complicated way in which Proximus Caesar grapples with, and perverts Caesar’s legacy, during a recent interview with Screen Rant. In his estimation, Proximus Caesar actually makes good points about humanity and their achievements, but it’s the execution that solidifies him as a villain:

He has a twisted view of what Caesar wanted. Caesar’s become more of a title now… This is a cool concept I think for a villain who is trying to make the first ape kingdom. He’s the first ape King.

It’s a fascinating narrative choice, and one that was informed by iconic characters the same way that Reeves’ films were. While Reeves made reference to Moses, Ball told Total Film he modeled his protagonist, Noa, after Star Wars‘ Luke Skywalker and Lord of the Rings‘ Frodo Baggins. Big shoes to fill, but if any franchise can do it, it’s Planet of the Apes.

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