Fans at Wondercon were treated to an extended look at Godzilla: King of the Monsters, featuring the awakening of King Gidorah from his icy prison as Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobbie Brown look on from the relative safety of a military base. As Gidorah breaks out, he uses his lightning breath to obliterate soldiers–just in time for Godzilla to arrive on the scene.
Of course, the footage cuts before the two can actually clash–but not before Gidorah gets to strike an incredibly iconic pose with his wings and three heads splayed for full effect–and, trust us, it looks and sounds absolutely amazing. Even for someone not completely steeped in vintage Toho lore, there will always be something awe-inspiring about a giant, golden, three-headed dragon in any context at all, let alone facing off against the world’s most famous reptile.
The context of the scene made it look like Godzilla was coming to the rescue of the humans, but director Michael Doughtery explained that the everyone’s favorite kaiju’s morality is not so easily distilled into good and evil.
“Godzilla is a god, right? He’s not good or bad. I think the big question is are we–as in the humans–good guys or bad guys? And that will affect how Godzilla reacts to us on any given day. The final shot we see of Gidorah on a volcano? The genesis of that moment is actually the Book of Revelations. We really wanted to put the ‘god’ back into Godzilla with this movie.”
Doughtery continued, “We wanted to treat them with the reverence we think they deserve. Mothra isn’t just a giant moth, she’s a goddess. That’s how I always saw them growing up–not as puppets, but as deities.”
Speaking of puppets–the classic, practical monsters are definitely a thing of the past. The creatures here in Godzilla: King of the Monsters are motion captured, which was an important part of their development according to Doughtery. “Gidorah’s three heads had to have their own personalities. When we were doing motion capture, we took three separate actors and bound them together as one creature. It was like a modern day version of the man-in-a-suit process.”
The visual effects aren’t the only thing that got a major update–the kaiju sound effects were also heavily considered. “I think the creatures are like musical instruments, they have very particular noises, screeches, roars. We worked really closely with the sound designers,” Doughtery explained. “We went out and recorded wild animals–turtles, even. Turns out turtles make really amazing noises. Rattlesnakes, vultures, owls–they have to sound like themselves.”
The majesty of the kaiju is all in service to a very human story, Doughtery assured. The monsters are the star of the show, but the movie is actually going to focus on a family. “A lot of it is about a family who survived the first Godzilla attack, so this is about how they cope with trauma and also giant monsters.” He laughed. “We used to call this movie Kramer vs Kramer vs Godzilla, but Warner didn’t like that too much.”
Despite the tragic loss of that amazing gag title, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is more than ready to bring the thunder to theaters this May 31.