Mendez XXVI was a mutant who lived beneath the ruins of New York City in the latter half of the 40th century.
Descended from a long line of leaders who have carried the family name, Mendez was an elder inquisitor who conducted all liturgical services for a subterranean mutant community. He was also the caretaker of a holy artifact which they referred to as the Divine Bomb.
Like his mutant brethren, Mendez's true visage was that of a hairless, aberration, whose skin bore the scarred characteristics associated with prolonged exposure to atomic radiation. To compensate for his horrid appearance however, Mendez possessed acute mental capabilities. These powers included the ability to communicate telepathically with his fellow mutants, as well as other humans. He employed his powers for a variety of effects, which they referred to as "Weapons of Peace". The most common of these abilities was a process known as the Visual Deterrent. This reflected a mutant’s ability to create elaborate and convincing illusions designed to confound or in some cases ensnare unsuspecting prey. The mutants used the Visual Deterrent to trap the time-lost astronaut George Taylor. They later used the power to much broader effect in the hopes of warding off an encroaching ape army. Accompanying the Visual Deterrent was a practice known as the Sonic Deterrent. Using this technique, Mendez could generate a piercing sonic hum in a target's mind – the intent of which was ultimately to drive the victim insane. The most intrusive and devastating tactic however, was a practice called Traumatic Hypnosis. Using this ability, Mendez could control another person’s mind, forcing them to act in contrast to their own nature – even violently.
When astronaut John Brent and the mute woman Nova discovered the mutant city in the Forbidden Zone, Mendez and a panel of Inquisitors interrogated him at length. They knew that Brent had come from the nearby Ape City, and they wanted to know more about the Ape’s intentions towards their society. He tried to persuade Brent of the mutants' honourable intentions but his statements were full of contradictions. He proclaimed that they were peaceful people yet when they tired of Brent and Taylor's unwillingness to agree with them, they used their telepathic powers to force the two astronauts to fight each other.
Following the interrogation, Mendez led a mass in the altar room within the ruins of St. Patrick's cathedral. Shortly after the mass however, an army of gorilla soldiers led by General Ursus stormed the cathedral, and began shooting mutants in cold blood. Mendez attempted to activate the launch controls of the Alpha-Omega bomb, but is then interrupted by the apes' storming the cathedral, most of whom are perplexed at seeing such a complex device. Mendez calmly explains "This is an instrument of my god", causing the ape soldiers to be taken aback at hearing a talking human. Ursus fatally shot him with a machine gun before he could fulfill his plan, arrogantly remarking "Your god didn't save you, did he?". Mendez was one of the last of the mutants to be shot and killed by the ape invaders, on the steps of his altar to the great bomb.
- Paul Dehn's original treatment for Planet of the Apes Revisited, from September 1968, depicted a grotesquely deformed image of Mendez very different from that eventually seen in the movie. Their hereditary leader, Mendez the twenty-sixth... Taylor confronts a figure who looks like the Grand Inquisitor grotesquely lengthened by a distorting-mirror. The immensely tall, cadaverously lean body is topped by a head discernibly human, though the great aquiline nose suggests an eagle's beak. Even the long fingers are raptorially curved like claws. But the eagle seems blind. Where there should be eyes, there is facial flesh. Then a curious thing happens. Mendez says: "Let me look at you" and turns slowly into profile to reveal that his eyes are at the sides of his face and not in front. He can, like a great bird, look outwards but not forwards... Mendez rising from his throne... enters a long corridor, lined with statues, past which he unhurriedly stalks... the names and dates on the plinths tell us that they are Mendez's ancestors: Mendez XXV, Mendez XXIV, XXIII, XXII, XXI etc. As Mendez walks, we are so to speak moving back in time; and as the dates become earlier, each statue's appearance approximates closer to the human norm... We end on Mendez I - a normal, handsome, strong-jawed, military-moustached, grizzle-haired soldier in the 20th century uniform of a five-star US General... In front of this, Mendez pauses for a moment - seeing (without turning) out of his side-eye - and whispers in a sort of agony: "Forefather, why can we not all look like you?" This shocks us, because it is directly contrary to his public teaching that all Mutants are beautiful.
- In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the character of Mendez XXVI is credited only as "Mendez", however the movie's novelization indicates that he is the twenty-sixth Mendez in a line of succession (presumably extending back to the mutant Mendez I from Battle for the Planet of the Apes).
- All of the mutant elders wore liturgical vestments, which were color-coordinated with the visual effects of their thought projection abilities. Mendez wore a purple stole over his tunic to match the color of his psychic impressions. As purple has often been associated with royalty and the nobility, this could also signify his status as the dynastic leader of the mutants.
- In an early version of the Beneath script Mendez is addressed as 'Holiness' by his fellow mutants.
- Mendez could 'commune' with his ancestors in the Corridor of Busts. Each bust held the preserved memories of his predecessors, which could be accessed for advice and guidance.
- According to The Mutant News newspaper distributed in theatres showing the movie in 1970, Mendez' full title was given as 'Mendes the Divine and Invincible, Leader of the Underground'.
In 2004, Sideshow Collectibles produced a twelve-inch limited edition Mendez action figure. Labeled as "Mutant Leader", only 2,500 models of this Planet of the Apes collectible were put into production. The figure features over thirty points of articulation, as well as a removable face-piece revealing Mendez' radiation-scarred visage. The "Mutant Leader" figure was packaged with several accessories including an Alpha-Omega bomb launch command crystal, a Doomsday prayer book, An Alpha-Omega pendant and a figure display stand bearing the Beneath the Planet of the Apes movie logo. The figure was sculpted by artist Mat Falls.
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (comic)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (novel)
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Power Records)
- Planet of the Apes Magazine: Beneath the Planet of the Apes
- Adventures on the Planet of the Apes: Beneath the Planet of the Apes
- Neil Foster & Michael Whitty's Within The Planet Of The Apes (fan fiction)
- Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes
- Death of the Planet of the Apes
- 3955 versus 3978
- Planet of the Apes Revisited Treatment at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Scripts Archive
- Planet of the Apes Revisited First Draft Screenplay at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Scripts Archive
- 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' promotional material
- Mutant Leader figure at Sideshow Collectibles