Will Rodman is a scientist and Caesar's caretaker. He is the main human protagonist turned of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. His ultimate goal is to find a cure for Alzheimer's. When he used Caesar as a test subject, he unwittingly accelerated the ape's intelligence. The cure also served as a virus which wiped out most of humanity.
He is portrayed by James Franco, who also portrayed Harry Osborn.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes Edit
At the beginning of the film, Will is seen experimenting on Caesar's mother, to show his boss what Caesar's mother has been capable of doing because her newly found brainpower. Upon having a rough attack from Caesar's mother (Bright Eyes), he finds a small ape in the same room the mother is in which made him see the real reason for her rampage. He reluctantly takes the young ape as his own to his house, where he is facing problems of his own concerning his father. Will would then go back to work where he was told by his superior Steven Jacobs that he was scrapping the ALZ-112project even though they were very close to a breakthrough. This act caused Will to steal some canisters of the drug and secretly use it to tend to his ailing father who not only got better but improved in his intelligence as well. Over the years, he noticed that Caesar inherited ALZ-112 and high intelligence from Bright Eyes.
Raising Caesar Edit
Five years later, he has kept Caesar as his own and met a kind, beautiful veterinarian named Caroline who upon Caesar's insistence goes on a date with will starting a relationship not long after. Caroline, noticing Caesar would one day need open space suggest taking him to a place he'll be comfortable in the Red Muir Woods which would become Caesar's favorite place to visit. One day, on a picnic in the Muir Woods Will was questioned by Caesar about his true origins after seeing a dog on a leash. Will decides to show Caesar the truth about his origins and tells him about his Mother whom he got his intelligence from.
Caesar's Capture Edit
Will's father's dementia has returned and Will decides to leave but accidentally gets in his neighbor's car and ends up crashing it. Afterwards Charles gets into a confrontation from his angry bitter neighbor Douglas Hunsiker. Caesar, seeing the situation, intervenes and assaults Hunsiker for supposedly attacking Charles. In the ensuing chaos Caeser bites off the man's finger and is soon captured and dragged to a primate shelter.
The Ape Rebellion Edit
During this time, Will tries to get Caesar out of the primate shelter, but learns of his father's fate. At the time Will went to his job, his employee Franklin rushes to his house to warn him of the illness from the ALZ-113 experiment in the lab. Later on, Will tries to take Caesar home but the ape refuses. Caesar then breaks all the apes out of captivity and locked up in different areas of San Francisco, which soon leads to a war on the Golden Gate bridge.
In the end, he and Caroline witness the battle on the bridge and after getting past police Will watches as the apes depart to Muir Woods. Will steals a police car and follows after them and after reaching his destination he rushes through the area. However, once he got to the woods, he calls for Caesar but his shouting attracts the attention of Koba who nearly kills him. Luckily Caesar rescues him and helps the scared Will to stand up. Will tells Caesar he's sorry for everything and begs Caesar to come home with him knowing that the humans would soon find him and the other apes and says he'll protect Caesar if he comes. Caesar, now being capable of speech, looks upon his fellow apes and realizing he wants to live in true freedom hugs and whispers into Will's ear "Caesar IS home". Will, shocked and perhaps happy about Caesar talking realizes that this is indeed their last farewell, so he respects Caesar's wishes and allows him to live with his own kind. Will watches Caesar with the other apes climb to the tops of the Redwoods and is left proud of Caesar for finding his true place in the world.
Dawn of the Planet of the Ape: Firestorm Edit
Will is mentioned a number of times but never actually makes a physical appearance. Will is seen in a flashback that relates back to Rise when he and his team begin experimenting with the ALZ-113 on Koba. The flashback being told from Koba's perspective. In a scene, Caesar wonders what Will and Caroline are doing now that he is no longer a part of their lives.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Edit
As of this film, Will has been believed to be dead for a number of years but there is no direct evidence given to prove this. Will is indirectly mentioned several times throughout the film. The first time is when Maurice and Caesar are talking about the birth of Caesar's youngest son, Cornelius when Maurice asks if Caesar misses the humans. Caesar admits he does, which relates back to his childhood, growing up with Will. Later in the forest, Ellie indirectly mentions Will by saying that the Simian Flu was created by scientists in a lab, though it is unclear if she actually knew Will was responsible for the virus' creation. After Caesar tells the humans to leave, after finding out one of them had a gun, Malcolm comes to his home and tells him that not all humans are like Carver, Caesar is shown to have become deep in thought, probably thinking of Will and how he treated him like a son. These words have him put aside his distrust and allow Ellie to give Cornelia medicine and results in Caesar letting the humans stay for one more day. When Caesar is shot by Koba and Malcolm's family find and rush him to the city he directs them to his old family home where the family learn of his past and his reasons for being kind to them. The house is marked with having sick humans inside; presumably this confirms Will's death. Later on, Blue Eyes (the oldest son of Caesar) would find his father alive and he would discover through a framed portrait that his father had been raised by humans hence the reason for his sympathy and compassion towards them. Blue Eyes would slowly think of Will as a grandfather due to him raising Caesar from infancy and to adulthood. While at the residence, Caesar also found an old recording of Will and himself and watched it sadly.
- It is speculated that Will and Caroline have died from the virus by the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, as James Franco and Freida Pinto were not asked to reprise their roles. An article by USA Today stated that Will (and possibly Caroline; not mentioned) died from the Simian Flu; but there is no direct evidence given to prove this. According to an article in Collider from late April, producer Dylan Clark revealed Will and Caroline were never supposed to survive the end of Rise and that Will's death was a way of punishment for beginning the downfall of man via the ALZ-113.
- Despite knowing about Caesar's increased intelligence, it can be presumed that Will never really understood how truly sentient Caesar was until he spoke to him in the woods in Rise.
- It is unknown how Will managed to make Casear not appear too intelligent when in public.
- It is unknown how Will was able to hide the fact that he stole Caesar from gensys over the years, or it can be presumed that nobody asked how Will got Caesar. Most people probably thought he was Will's bought pet, or possibly Will managed to somehow forge illegal documents which stated Caesar was his pet.
- If Will and Caroline did not die from the outbreak of the ALZ-113 (Simian Flu), it can be assumed that they were caught in the crossfire of the virus outbreak that was mentioned by Dreyfus which lasted four years before the battle caused the humans to turn on each other. Much like Armando in the original films, Will most likely never got to see the kingdom that Caesar created from the ground up, let alone meet Caesar's own thriving family consisting of his wife (Cornelia) and his two sons.
- Will makes a cameo in a flashback appearance in Dawn. He is seen on a video camera at the old Rodman house with a then young Caesar, teaching him how to sign "Caesar, you are home".
- Ellie made an indirect mention to Will when she said that the Simian Flu was created by humans.
- The name "Rodman" is a tribute to Rodman (Rod) Serling, writer of the first Planet of the Apes screenplay. Perhaps coincidentally, it is also a partial anagram of Armando, which, seeing as they both raised their own Caesar, is a further link between the 2011 reboot and the original films.
- Tobey Maguire, Shia LaBeouf and Bobby Campo were considered for the role of Will.
- An earlier version of the script indicated that "Will" was short for "Wilson Rodman", a reference to the other writer credited on the original movie, Michael Wilson. In the same script, Will's father often addresses Will as "John", but Will reminds him that "John is gone". After his father's death, Will looks at an old photo showing his father with two teenage sons. Later, Will goes to the primate facility after Caesar has taken over and, believing Caesar to have murdered Robert Franklin, decides he has to kill Caesar to prevent further bloodshed. However, Cornelia eats the poisoned cookie Will offered to Caesar and dies before the apes reach the Golden Gate Bridge. Later, after discovering that it was Koba who killed Franklin, Will goes to the redwood forest to negotiate a peaceful outcome with Caesar, but the police renege on their agreement with Will and follow him in order to shoot as many apes as possible. Will takes a bullet intended for Caesar, and dies in his arms as the apes ambush the police and slaughter them.
- In the original filmed climax to the movie, this plot was modified so that John Landon follows Will into the forest with a shotgun and Will gets shot protecting Caesar. Landon is then killed by the apes and Koba takes Landon's gun. A test audience was shown this ending and reacted negatively, and so a different ending was shot on July 4 weekend, 2011, in Griffith Park, with a slightly more positive feel.
- "Will" was also the name of the main character in a failed mid-"90s" Apes movie project named Return of the Apes, which producer Peter Chernin had also been involved in.