'War for the Planet of the Apes' Trailer Screens at New York Comic Con

The War for the Planet of the Apes isn't just between humanity and the apes — it's a fight for the soul of the leader of the ape rebellion, according to the man who plays him.

Talking at a fan event at New York Comic Con Thursday night, Andy Serkis — Caesar himself — introduced new footage from next year's third Planet of the Apes movie alongside director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark. Of three pieces of footage shown, one was the digital billboard released by 20th Century Fox earlier Thursday (see below), while the second featured a spoiler-filled scene that's currently a work-in-progress, showcasing the work of Serkis and other motion-capture actors in the movie before digital rendering transforms them into photo realistic apes.

Reeves and Clark both lauded Serkis' role in creating the Caesar that audiences see on screen in the current Apes movies, with Reeves telling the audience that, before he started work on 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, he watched the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes in two different formats — the finished version audiences saw, and a version showing Serkis' performance without CGI effects added. "I realized, it was all Andy," he explained.

Serkis, impressively humble when faced with Reeves and Clark demanding an Academy Award for his performance, joined Reeves in talking about what to expect from next summer's third installment in the series. Serkis lauded the performance of Woody Harrelson as the Colonel, a fanatic leading the final charge for humanity in the war against the apes that will have lasted two years by the time the movie opens. Serkis said that War would push Caesar into a dark place where his empathy with humanity eventually dies.

Reeves called War of the Planet of the Apes an epic that takes the series to a "mythical" level, promising the audience that it is darker, more action-packed and also funnier than earlier movies.

The panel finished with the debut of the teaser trailer for the movie, which opens with a failed assassination attempt on Caesar before introducing the Colonel, who talks about the need for humanity to fight back one last time against the rebellion of the apes. The final shot of the trailer is a human army surrounding Caesar as he kneels before the Colonel, with a gun placed against his forehead. To lose the war, the Colonel warns, would mean that the world would "truly become a planet of apes." Nobody tell him what the name of the franchise is, in case he gets demoralized.

War for the Planet of the Apes is set to open July 14, 2017.