Caesar the chimpanzee and James Franco hug in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'.
(20th Century Studios)

Whatever Happened to the Father of ‘The Planet of the Apes’?

As Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes continues to make its mark on the box office, and as 20th Century presses ahead with the Noa trilogy, it’s become glaringly apparent that this storied sci-fi franchise is in incredibly good hands.

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But, despite the promises Kingdom has made, alongside being a fantastic movie in its own right, it’s hard not to feel a bit nostalgic for the Caesar days. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, after all, was a stroke of cinematic genius that gifted us this lightning-in-a-bottle reboot in the first place, and first-time Apes enthusiasts would be wise to take a peek at the history of this particular canon.

In doing so, they’ll come across one Will Rodman, who, perhaps even more than Caesar, is the single most important figure in the “simianpocene” era that this Apes canon finds itself in; a figure who has seemingly been lost to history.

What happened to Will from Rise of the Planet of the Apes?

For those who aren’t aware, Will Rodman is the chemist responsible for the creation of the ALZ-113 retrovirus that would eventually come to be known as the Simian Flu; a strain that was intended as a cure for Alzheimer’s, but which ultimately caused humans to devolve and fall fatally ill while also raising the intelligence of any ape that came in contact with it. In other words, Will’s work is the reason that human civilization fell apart, and also why apes rose up as the dominant species. Furthermore, Will was the adoptive father/owner of Caesar prior to the apes’ uprising, a fact that had a large hand in informing Caesar’s sympathy for humans.

His fate was never directly confirmed, but by all appearances, from his long-since abandoned house to Caesar’s reaction upon finding old videos of them together, it seems as though Will succumbed to the Simian Flu. And seeing as he never appeared beyond archive footage in either Dawn or War, and we’re now on Kingdom (which takes places 300 years after War, meaning that even if Will were still alive back then, he certainly isn’t now), it’s an assumption that might as well be accepted as fact.


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Charlotte Simmons
Charlotte is a freelance writer at The Mary Sue and We Got This Covered. She's been writing professionally since 2018 (a year before she completed her English and Journalism degrees at St. Thomas University), and is likely to exert herself if given the chance to write about film or video games.