Warning: Spoilers for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes are in play. If you haven't seen the film, bookmark this page and come back later.
At the end of Matt Reeves' Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) been through the wringer of combat, and earned the love and respect of his people. Having defeated the menace of Koba (Toby Kebbell) and his insurgent behavior, the ape who would be king is surrounded by his followers. Just as peace started to look like a viable option between Humans and Apes, parties on both sides have set off a chain of events that will change the course of Earth's history. It is a bittersweet victory, as war with the humans is all but assured, and you can see the weight of Caesar's heavy crown in his eyes as the camera pulls in close and ends as the film began.
The ending to Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is the perfect set up to the thrilling events that will follow in a sequel that we now believe will be called War Of The Planet Of The Apes. Interestingly enough, there was another ending to Dawn that quite possibly could have put that future installment on another path, though with a similar outcome. What that ending was -- and how it could have changed everything -- is the reason we're here today. So without further ado, let's look into how Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes almost ended... and why it didn't end that way.
How Dawn Was Going To EndThe most interesting part about how Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes was going to end is the fact that for the most part, we leave on the same exact image. Caesar is surrounded by his followers, we zoom into his eyes, and the film ends on his reluctance to accept the coming storm. However, the big difference in the alternate ending comes in the fact that Matt Reeves originally had this moment take place in the ruins of the Golden Gate Bridge (the setting for the climactic showdown at the end of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes), which has now become the perfect vantage point for the pending conflict. Why? Because in his interview with /Film, Matt Reeves confessed that the final shot of the film would have shown Caesar staring at an incoming armada of war ships.
This ending actually ties directly into a subplot in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes involving Gary Oldman's character, Dreyfus, and his team's successful efforts to raise a Navy ship that survived the Simian Flu epidemic. The way the film plays now, the subplot runs its course well enough and ends with a frantic SOS sent by one of Dreyfus' men as Koba and his soldiers attack the human settlement in San Francisco. With the knowledge of an alternate ending that includes the arrival of warships, however, it looks like a bit of a glaring plot hole. Why introduce the possibility of a war ship (and proceed to include a shot of it in an early trailer, shown above), if only to dump it before theatrical release?
Matt Reeves actually has a good reason for doing just that, and it involves the eventual fate of the franchise. Let's explore...