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Brent an astronaut from Earth's past arrives on the Ape world in search of Taylor from the first movie who was sent to find. He lands near the Forbidden Zone and soon finds Nova, Taylor's girl from the first movie. Nova leads Brent to Chimpanzee Zira who helps him escape ape authorities and find his way back into the Forbidden Zone in search of Taylor who he nearly kills in a fight he is forced to participate in.
General Ursus is the commander of the Gorilla armies of Apedom. Ursus collaborates with orangutan Dr Zauis and uses Zauis' status in politics to spur his own desires for conquest and war. Ursus utterly hates man, and sees man purpose as target practice, and reluctantly as slaves. Ursus utters to the world. that "The only good human is a dead human." This pretty much summarizes the General's true feelings of man. Unlike Dr. Zauis that sees the scientific ramifications of large population of humans, Ursus just doesn't like seeing humans around. Ursus is the brutish gorilla commander that everyone loves to hate.
Dr. Zaius
Dr Zaius serves as a political leader and the "Defender of the Faith" in Ape Society. He knows of Man's past as the dominating life force on Earth, and of the Ape's true past as beasts and then slaves to man. Along with his Gorilla Ally General Ursus he keeps the secret of Man's legacy from Ape society . Petrified of man and his dangerous bloodthirsty nature Zauis keeps watch over an area known as the Forbidden Zone where artifacts of man's past exist. Zaius watches as his people decide its time to invade the Forbidden Zone. Zaius has no choice but to go along despite his reservations about explorings the Forbidden Zone.
Cornelius an archaeologist from the first movie returns for a brief role in this second Apes films. The original actor, Roddy McDowall who played Cornelius was unable to reprise his role. Instead a new actor is brought in and Roddy McDowall provides the voice while the actual actor mouths the words. Cornelius watches as his wife Zira becomes more rebellious and pretends to have hit her at home for her behavior so that Dr Zauis would not give him trouble.
Zira is a veterinarian and noted scientist in the areas of psychology on the Ape world. Zira becomes rebellious when she sees Gorilla militaristic talk everywhere. The Gorilla leader Ursus she greatly fears. Another talking man, Brent is lead to her and she helps him to escape Ape authorities.
Charlton Heston reprises his role as Taylor the American astronaut who crashed lands on Earth in a future where Apes rule. Another astronaut, Brent is sent to find out what happened to Taylor. Together Brent and Taylor battle a group of subterranean mutants who worship an atomic bomb as well as hordes of Gorilla soldiers in an attempt to save the world from destruction by a great doomsday bomb. At the movie's end Taylor is shot and asks Orangutan Dr Zaius for help to save the world. He refuses and then Taylor pushes a button that detonates the nuclear bomb to signify that the world has gone to hell and he might as well finish the job for good.
Nova, the human female that astronaut Taylor found so appealing in the first movie returns in this second film. She has lost Taylor who feel through a mirage into an unknown place. She discovers a new talking man, an astronaut named Brent and together she and Brent search for Taylor. Along the way they encounter mutant people with mind control powers who try to force Brent to kill Nova. The mutants have captured Taylor and force Taylor and Brent to fight to the death. Nova speaks for the first time to say Taylor's name and kills the mutant forcing Taylor and Brent to fight. Nova is shot by a Gorilla guard right afterwards which greatly devastates Taylor and contributes to his decision to let a nuclear bomb destroy the world.
The mutants live in the Forbidden Zone and worship an atomic bomb they believe is an instrument of peace. They have great telepathic powers and can force people to kill each other just by projecting thoughts. The mutants force Taylor and Brent to fight, and begin preparations to launch a nuclear bomb to bring peace to the world.