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The "Forbidden City", also called "Modern City" is the city where Caesar's rebellion took place in 1991, beginning with the 'Night of the Fires'.


Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Governor Breck ruled the area with an iron fist; his security personnel ruthlessly enforcing a rigid and colourless regime. Protests were tolerated, but only with strict limits. The humans, however, generally lived quite comfortably, as the manual work and menial tasks were carried out by a relatively new class of ape servants/slaves, who felt the oppression of the police more than others. The imported apes were conditioned in the brutal 'Ape Management' complex to ensure obedience to their human masters. The city itself was a modern, sterile glass-and-steel construction, while the human population adhered to a drab monochrome dress code. It was into this city that Señor Armando arrived by helicopter with his orphaned charge, Caesar (formerly known as Milo), the child of the time-travelling chimps from the future, Zira and Cornelius. He had raised the speaking chimp since his parents' murder at the hands of Dr. Hasslein, but the financial troubles of his circus forced him to take Caesar to the potentially very dangerous city in order to raise publicity. It proved a tragic mistake as Caesar was unable to contain his horror at the situation. While Armando was arrested and died in police custody, Caesar managed to conceal his true identity and plot his revenge against the Governor and his supporters.

One script outline of Battle for the Planet of the Apes depicts a flashback of Caesar leading an exodus of apes and humans from 'Modern City' in 1991, in the aftermath of his successful revolt. Ape uprisings and general world tensions lead to nuclear devastation (including Modern City) which Caesar's band narrowly escaped. London, Rome, Athens, Rio, Moscow, Tokyo and Peking were all destroyed much the same, and Caesar points out that "the city was flattened. The bomb left nothing". His followers established an 'Ape City' to the north of Modern City.

Battle for the Planet of the Apes

It was many years later, when Caesar, Virgil and MacDonald (somewhat recklessly) decided to search the bomb-proof Archive section of the Forbidden City for tapes of Caesar's parents, that either the apes or the local mutants were aware of the other's survival. Governor Kolp had been the leader of the mutants since Breck's death, and ruled from the 'Control Center' - the former 'Ape Management Center' used by Breck. Kolp was assisted by Alma, his communications officer, and Mendez, his first lieutenant. The radiation in the destroyed city made them physically damaged and mentally unbalanced. Kolp and the more able-bodied and aggressive members of the community were mostly wiped out during their failed invasion of Caesar's Ape City, with only a few escaping and another group taken as prisoners. Mendez became leader of the remaining mutants, and the danger associated with the Forbidden City ensured the apes continued to keep it in isolation.


Quest for the Planet of the Apes

According to Marvel ComicsQuest for the Planet of the Apes, former Governor BreckAlma and Mendez had been taken prisoner along with other volatile humans, whom the apes kept alive as a work detail after the rebellion. Two years on, the apes hadn't visited the city since before it was destroyed, but knew it to be 'dead' (it was by then surrounded by a desert wasteland), although MacDonald believed that "many sections of the underground city were designed to survive the impact of a ten megaton overblast", among them the 'Archives' section, near the old 'Command Post' where Breck made his final stand. Aldo challenged Caesar to a quest to determine ape leadership: he and Caesar must return to the old city and each bring something back; whoever found the 'best thing' would rule. Caesar accepted, though MacDonald, knowing the dangers of entering a city only a year after a nuclear war, urged him not to go. The city was a scene of horror, and Caesar knew immediately what to bring back: the knowledge and vision of what strife can cause, and what peace can avoid. He declared the area The Forbidden City and that apes should avoid the area completely. Aldo, meanwhile, found a stocked armory and filled a cart with rifles. Back in Ape City, Breck and other humans revolted and seized Aldo's cart of weapons. The apes killed most escaping humans, but a few, including Breck, Mendez and Alma, fled into the Forbidden Zone.

Planet of the Apes (Malibu Graphics)

Two generations on, in Malibu Graphics' Planet of the Apes comic, Caesar's grandson and heir, Alexander, struggled to stop the city he had inherited from falling into chaos, aided by Jacob, son of Virgil. Alexander went on a special expedition into the Forbidden Zone and visited the Forbidden City, where he was attacked by a throng of mutants. There, he freed a group of mutated 'Forgotten Apes' held captive since Caesar's revolution. Alexander's rival, General Ollo, allied with the Forgotten Apes and provoked a war between them and their Swamp Ape neighbours in the Forbidden Zone, but with little success. Ollo met his death at the hands of the spirit of Governor Breck, resurrected through occult rituals by a group of Forbidden City mutant humans, whom he immediately massacred because of their 'impurity'. After Breck had annihilated all of the communities outside of the Ape City, the ghost of Caesar finally overcame him.

Planet of the Apes: The Forbidden Zone

In Malibu Graphics' Planet of the Apes: The Forbidden Zone, the mutant Mendez Ten was condemned for his independent thinking and heresy against the worship of the Alpha-Omega Bomb. He escaped across the Forbidden Zone and found himself at the mercy of a community known as the Primacy, who maintained and developed the ideas of human integration that Ape City had since turned its back on. The armies of the mutants and of Ape City invaded Primacy but, using the advice of Mendez, they were able to maneuver the two armies into wiping each other out.

Location and Name

The exact location of The Forbidden City is left vague and subject to much debate. The name of the city isn't identified in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. All script versions of Battle for the Planet of the Apes, including the final one, used the name Modern City for the metropolis in which the events of Conquest took place. It is unclear if this is the true name of the city and it is a new setting, or if it is a previous location that has been renamed or nicknamed as such. This could be a new location, as the characters refer to Breck as having been the 'City Governor' (rather than the Governor of a State), something that did not apply in previous installments, though the government system could have changed in between films. A popular theory is that the city is the ruins of New York City as seen in Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes, or possibly another city on the east coast nearby. This theory makes the most sense, as the city in Battle for the Planet of the Apes is referred to as "Ape City" and is a three days' walk away from the Modern City ruins, which was about how long it took to get to the Forbidden Zone in the original two films. The first draft script for Battle for the Planet of the Apes depicted Caesar's neighbouring Ape City being built by human slaves, the arena from Beneath the Planet of the Apes being hewn from the rock. The script treatment by William and Joyce Corrington states that Caesar's Ape City is the same Simian community that Taylor will encounter 2,000 years later. This and later scripts emphasised the links with the mutants from Beneath, such as Mendez and the Alpha-Omega Bomb, although many references were removed from the theatrical release for reasons that are unknown. Other theories include that the city is Los Angeles - Escape from the Planet of the Apes was set in Los Angeles - but while Conquest of the Planet of the Apes was filmed around LA, the city was never named on-screen. A 1975 timeline published in Marvel ComicsPlanet of the Apes Magazine #11 identified the city as San Francisco. The Revolution on the Planet of the Apes comics claimed the city was San Diego. 


  • If an altered timeline was created - changed by Caesar leading an ape revolt several centuries before it would otherwise have occurred - that might not lead inevitably to the Earth's destruction, and could also mean that the city featured in Battle for the Planet of the Apes is not, in fact, New York. Although many spin-off media, such as Malibu Graphics' comics, supported the idea of a 'circular' timeline which, regardless of whether time had or had not been altered, would lead to the same conclusion, they usually ended their stories with the same kind of optimistic tone as Battle, contradicting ideas about man's inevitable downfall.
  • What happened to the inhabitants of 'Modern City' during the nuclear holocaust depends on the source consulted. According to Marvel Comics' film adaptations and original bridging story, Quest for the Planet of the Apes (taking their cue from older movie script revisions), Breck, Mendez and Alma were among the humans taken as slaves by their new ape masters to the Ape City, thus saving their lives. They led a revolt and fled back to their ruined former home, where they became mutated and insane by the time Caesar, Virgil and MacDonald followed them there. Battle for the Planet of the Apes suggested the mutants had survived the war in the bomb-proof bunkers beneath the city, and that Breck had died and been replaced by Kolp. MR Comics' Revolution on the Planet of the Apes showed Kolp, Mendez and Alma attempting to rescue the captive Breck in the days after Caesar's revolt. Breck appeared to be crushed by the toppling Alpha-Omega Bomb, as his rescuers retreated to the lower levels of the city.
  • The setting of Malibu Graphics' Planet of the Apes series is difficult to pin down. Some publicity for the comic stated that it "takes place 100 years after the final film in the series, Battle for the Planet of the Apes",[1] other publicity placed it 100 years after the death of Caesar, which would help to explain how there was time for humans to have lost their intelligence, the Forgotten Apes to have evolved healing powers, and for Aldo's tribe (and others) to have established their own culture before being massacred. However, it is difficult to understand how Caesar's grandson and Virgil's son are still in the prime of their lives a full century later. Dayton Ward's Chronological History has the events starting in 2080;[2] Rich Handley's Definitive Chronology uses the official calculations to arrive at a date of 2140.[3]


  1. Welcome Back to the Planet of the Apes, by Edward Gross - 'Comics Scene' #13 (June 1990)
  2. The Planet of the Apes Chronicles, by Paul A. Woods (2001)
  3. Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology, by Rich Handley (2008)