While the original Planet of the Apes movie series began hundreds of years in the future to show these primates dominating Earth, the reboot series opted to start from the beginning and show the origin of how the apes rose to power. The central figure to this saga has been Caesar, the first ape to become super-intelligent and has led his fellow enhanced primates lead a new life. The next chapter of Caesar's journey will be told next year in War for the Planet of the Apes, and while we don't know yet what his fate will be at the end of that story, director Matt Reeves isn't worried about the new Apes series continuing without Caesar leading the charge.
Speaking with Screen Rant, Reeves explained how even though Caesar is the bright figure that that apes will admire for years to come, that doesn't mean that future Planet of the Apes movies can't feature different main protagonists. As he put it:
It's all one universe and Caesar has a very important part in ape history. We think of him being the seminal figure in ape history like Moses but as the idea, that tapestry, extends outward, there are all kinds of new characters in this story that you could absolutely follow. It's really about this trajectory that all of the apes are on, that all of the characters are on, and have been very intentionally centered around Caesar, but the universe is meant to be larger than just him as well.
Matt Reeve's logic is sound, especially when you consider that just like any other living thing, Caesar will eventually die. Whether that's naturally or in battle remains to be seen, but either way, ape life will continue once he's gone. Think about it this way: Rise of the Planet of the Apes took place around 2011, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes happened 10 years later. War for the Planet of the Apes doesn't have a definitive time period yet, but presumably it's only a couple years later, maybe another decade at most. That still leaves hundreds of years to go until the civilization seen in the original Planet of the Apes movie (and the 2001 remake) will be fully formed. There are plenty of stories to be told in that era or the preceding years.
Caesar's actor, Andy Serkis, echoed what Matt Reeves' statement, saying that there's enough groundwork to tell stories through the viewpoint of other characters. He added:
The way that all of the characters are drawn is so complete and nuanced, the way that Woody Harrelson's character, the way that Maurice evolves, or Rocket, all of their journeys, should you choose, you could follow the story from any point of view and it would make total emotional, psychological, and philosophical sense.
While we'll have to wait and see what's in store for Caesar, he has at least one more adventure left to be told. War for the Planet of the Apes will follow him and his ape colony battling human military forces led by the Colonel, played by Woody Harrelson. When the apes suffer heavy losses, Caesar will have to tap into his dark side to avenge his kind, and the outcome of this war will determine the fate of both species on Earth.
War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on July 14, 2017.