What happened to James Franco In ‘Planet Of The Apes?’ SuperNayr

In 2011 hopes weren’t exactly high for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The dreadful 2001 Tim Burton movie was still relatively fresh in audiences’ minds and a prequel establishing the beginning of the Planet of the Apes story wasn’t an immediately enticing proposition.

Word soon got around that Rise was actually pretty damn great, all fuelled by a groundbreaking mocap performance from Andy Serkis as Caesar. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes followed, and we now have the far-flung simian future of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

But let’s wind back the clock to Rise and dig into the fate of the most consequential human in the franchise.

Who is James Franco’s character?

In Rise, James Franco plays pharmaceutical chemist Will Rodman, who’s desperate to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. He tests his new drug on test chimpanzees, realizing that the treatment greatly increases their intelligence. After his test chimpanzees are euthanized he secretly takes in a surviving baby chimp, naming him Caesar.

Will raises Caesar treating him as a member of his family. Meanwhile, he continues working on his Alzheimer’s treatment, which further boosts ape intelligence but, unfortunately, is also a deadly virus for humans known as Simian Flu.

Superintelligent ape chaos on the streets of San Francisco ensues and the apes eventually escape into the forest. Will tracks down Caesar and begs him to return home, but Caesar says he is home and leaves Will for a new life.

Will Rodman’s life after ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’

That’s effectively the end of Will Rodman’s story. Franco makes an uncredited cameo in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in a scene where Caesar watches video footage of his youth, but does not actually appear in the movie’s timeline.

His ultimate fate is unknown but, like most humans, we can presume he died during the Simian Flu pandemic he caused. This is strongly indicated by the scene in which we return to Will’s now-ruined home and see it’s marked to indicate that there are sick humans inside.

Will is theoretically the protagonist of Rise, but if you take the trilogy as a whole it’s ultimately Caesar’s story. Either way, by the time of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Will’s pivotal role in creating this brave new world of superintelligent apes is almost certainly lost to history. If only we could say the same about Franco himself.


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