‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’: Director Says New Movie Will Put the “God” Back in Godzilla

The upcoming sequel to 2014’s Godzilla will put the “God” back in Godzilla, director and co-writer Michael Dougherty said during a panel at WonderCon 2019 in Anaheim on March 30.

“We wanted to portray these creatures not just as giant animals, but as something you would bend your knee to in real life,” Dougherty said after giving the audience a look at some footage from the new movie.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters will hit theaters on May 31 and is the third installment in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, after the 2014 reboot and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island. In the film, Godzilla and other monsters — including Mothra, Rodan, and the three-headed Ghidorah — have been awakened and are battling for supremacy, leaving the fate of the planet, and its human residents, hanging in the balance.

Bringing Godzilla to life on screen

Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields
Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields at WonderCon 2019 | Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Godzilla made his big-screen debut in 1954 and has wreaked havoc in dozens of movies since then. He’s a beloved character, and with the memory of 1998’s widely panned Godzilla film still relatively fresh, the pressure is on to get things right.

“It was exciting but also terrifying,” to get the chance to make a new movie about one of the most iconic monsters in pop culture history, Dougherty said.

One decision they made was to treat Godzilla and the other monsters were more than just scary, world-destroying beasts. Instead, each has its own personality.

“I think the creatures are like musical instruments,” Dougherty explained, when discussing how they created each monster’s unique sounds. After starting with the original roars, they worked closely with the sound designers to update them, using real noises from animals like rattlesnakes, owls, vultures, and even turtles as inspiration. “They have to sound like themselves,” he added.

Three human actors were also drafted to portray Ghidorah in motion capture. That approach allowed them to “give the slight glimmer of humanity” to the monster.

“We just wanted to treat them like the gods they are,” Dougherty explained, adding that he saw them as not just animals, but as “ancient deities.”

The human element

The monsters — and their epic battles that are partially inspired by the Bible’s Book of Revelation — might be the star of the show, but that doesn’t mean that the human characters are irrelevant.

“There’s a strong family story,” Dougherty said, which involves the dynamic between Dr. Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), and their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), who are all dealing with the trauma of surviving the 2014 Godzilla attacks. Screenwriters Zach Shields described the story as “Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Godzilla.”  

“[The movie] is about our ability to coexist with each other and a higher power,” Shields added.

Will we see King Kong?

Godzilla: King of the Monsters will be followed by the fourth MonsterVerse movie: Godzilla vs. Kong, due out in March 2020. The movie is currently in production, with The Guest’s and Death Note’s Adam Wingard directing.

Will we get a preview of that sure-to-be-epic battle in this movie? After all, an end credits scene in Kong: Skull Island teased the introduction of this movie’s monsters. Dougherty and Shields played coy during the panel discussion but did say that there will be a tip of the hat to the upcoming fourth movie in King of the Monsters. G

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