How Did Caesar Die? Why is Andy Serkis Not in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes?

Wes Ball’s science fiction action film ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes,’ the fourth installment in the ‘Planet of the Apes’ reboot film series, begins with the funeral of Caesar, a chimpanzee who becomes the head of a tribe of enhanced apes that rule the world after an apocalypse. Even though the film takes place around three hundred years after Caesar’s demise, the principles and legacy of the ape guide the protagonist, Noa, who sets out to save his clan from an evil dictator. In the first three films in the reboot movie series, Andy Serkis gives life to Caesar, whose death marks the departure of the actor from the franchise! SPOILERS AHEAD.

Caesar’s Tragic Death

In ‘War for the Planet of the Apes,’ the third installment in the reboot film series, Caesar and his tribe deal with Alpha-Omega, a U.S. Army battalion that aims to conquer the kingdom of the former under the leadership of J. Wesley “The Colonel” McCullough and his right-hand man, Preacher. The confrontation between human and ape forces paves the way for a war that leads Caesar to The Colonel with the intention of killing the latter. However, when the ape realizes that the human is suffering from a virus infection, he backs off, allowing his enemy to kill himself. Meanwhile, Preacher shows up out of nowhere and wounds Caesar.

Irrespective of the wound, Caesar continues to fight the war and ensures the victory of his tribe. He then leads his people to the “oasis,” where his loved ones and followers can be safer. After reaching his destination, Caesar’s wound slowly takes his life. Matt Reeves, who helmed and co-wrote the film, conceived the ape leader’s death to elevate the character to a different realm. “For this film, I wanted to move into the realm of the mythic,” the filmmaker told Variety. “This would be the story that would be the defining part of [Caesar’s] arc, that would challenge him in darker places, and the end would be his ascension into something like an ape Moses,” he added.

Andy Serkis’ Exit From the Franchise He Built

Caesar’s death made Andy Serkis’ departure from the ‘Planet of the Apes’ reboot franchise an inevitability. Since ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ takes place around three hundred years after the death of Caesar, with characters who do not have any first-hand connection with the ape leader, it is understandable why Wes Ball couldn’t incorporate Serkis’ character in flashback or dream sequences. The director tried his best to find a way to have Serkis as a cast member, and he even considered casting the latter for a brand new character.

“We talked about it, for sure. Like, ‘Could you [Serkis] play another ape character?’ I entertained that thought for a long time because I thought it would be f***ing cool,” Ball told Empire. However, Caesar’s legacy convinced the filmmaker to consider the option only in the future. “He’s just too iconic, in a way. So we decided it’s probably best to think about future movies where maybe he can come in,” the director added. Even though Serkis is not a part of ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ as an actor, he served as a consultant to help Owen Teague, who plays Noa, become his successor.

“I was very happy to say goodbye to Caesar, although there was a period of bereavement, and this was a way of engaging with the next thing that I really adored. My job was literally a handing-over process, imparting knowledge not just of the technical side but also of the culture,” Serkis told The New York Times about his new role. The actor’s acceptance of his exit doesn’t mean that we will not see him play another character in the franchise at all. If there’s a way to do it, Bell is more than happy to take on the challenge. “I’d love to work with Andy again if we could find some way to do it in a way. I’d be happy to, frankly,” he told CinemaBlend.

Read More: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes: Where Was the Movie Filmed?