Godzilla: King of the Monsters will hit theaters on May 30th, and monster fever is in the air. On top of being one of our most anticipated movies of the year, the film will mark the King’s grand return to the big screen. Furthermore, we’ll also get to see him tussle with his fellow kaiju royalty, including Mothra, Rodan, and other colossal Titans.
Several TV spots have revealed some exciting nuggets of information about what we can expect. Additionally, audiences who decide to go see Shazam! in IMAX will be treated to five minutes of footage from the film. The hype is real, and for the first time ever, America has produced a Godzilla movie that looks every bit as good as the classics from the East. It’s a good time to be a fan of movies about giant creatures on the rampage.
Naturally, some of you will want to go into this movie as blind as possible and experience its surprises first-hand. If you need a basic primer of what to expect, though, may this information serve you well. We don’t have all the answers, but this is everything you need to know about the hotly anticipated sequel.
The Director is the Real Deal
A director being a fan of a franchise doesn’t guarantee that their own contribution to it will be good. That said, the fact that Michael Dougherty is a talented filmmaker who has bowed to the King of the Monsters all his life makes him a great appointment.
Speaking to press on the set of the movie, the director revealed that he grew up watching the Toho movies on television and quickly became a superfan. While attending Catholic school as a kid, he added his own drawings of Godzilla to Bible illustrations, such as the fall of Jericho. Dougherty also claimed that he thought of Godzilla as a “friend.” Everyone who grew up watching Godzilla movies feels the same way.
Of course, Dougherty is no slouch when it comes to making genre movies. His Trick ‘r’ Treat and Krampus are entertaining horror flicks that occupy that intersection between scary and fun. Even though Godzilla: King of the Monsters marks his first time directing a massive blockbuster, Dougherty’s sensibilities are perfect for a gargantuan monster opus.
The Human Cast is Top Notch
We’re here for the monsters first and foremost. But we still need engaging human characters to guide us through the story. Fortunately, King of the Monsters has assembled a strong ensemble that’s almost as exciting as their colossal creature counterparts.
Vera Farmiga will spearhead proceedings, and she’ll be joined by a diverse bunch that includes Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Bradley Whitford, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi. Farmiga, Brown, and Chandler’s characters will be central to the story, as they play a family whose matriarch invented a device that’s able to communicate with the kaiju.
The Story is Set in the Present Day
A few years have passed since the events of the 2014 reboot, which means a substantial amount of time has been left unaccounted for in the sequel. The extent to which Dougherty’s movie will address the years that have passed since then remains unclear. However, according to the director (per the set visit interview), the explanation as to why shit is going down is quite simple:
“This film roughly takes place in real time. So we are placing that first film in 2014 and we are saying this film takes place roughly five years after, so in 2019,” Dougherty explained. “It’s not like the monsters are suddenly popping out of nowhere, they’ve always been here. They were here before we were. So the concept we’re running with is that this world belonged to them.”
That said, if you do want an in-depth look into what Godzilla has been up to since the last movie, the tie-in graphic novel Godzilla: Aftershock by Arvid Nelson and Drew Edward Johnson will fill in some of those blanks.
The Monsters Are Gods
In Toho monster mythology, the notion that the creatures are gods recurs in many of the films. In some cases, the creatures attacked civilization indiscriminately whenever it deserved to be punished. Elsewhere, some creatures were portrayed as humanity’s protectors. Some of them were even worshipped as deities. Dougherty approached the sequel with a similar point of view, as he told Famous Monsters of Filmland:
“The approach that my writing partner Zach Shields and I took was that Godzilla, the MUTOs, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah — they’re a super-species. These creatures were worshipped as ancient gods; they are the reasons we have stories about dragons and giants and titans. Because if you look at the entire world’s collection of ancient myths, you realize that they all have stories about monsters. What we’re trying to establish is the idea that Godzilla and his brethren are the reason for that.”
The new movie will explore humanity’s relationship with the monsters and attempt to re-establish the severed connection between our species and ancient gods. But, more than anything, most of the monsters want to punish us Old Testament-style because we’re awful and probably deserve to be obliterated.
It’s Going to Be a Lot of Fun
One of the biggest criticisms of Gareth Edwards’s reboot was that there just wasn’t enough kaiju beating the crap out of each other. The first installment of Legendary’s franchise opted for a slow burn approach that took cues from Ishiro Honda’s 1954 masterpiece as opposed to the action-heavy heart of the franchise as a whole. King of the Monsters, meanwhile, will be more upbeat.
The sequel will be more fun and harken back to the city-stomping spirit of the Toho movies, and Dougherty even described his sequel as the Aliens to Edwards’s Alien.
“This is not a knee-slapping comedy by any means, but again, it’s like if you compare ‘Alien,’ which is a very straight science fiction film with not a lot of yucks, compared to ‘Aliens’ which sort of had more fun, tongue-in-cheek moments, we’re somewhere in the middle there.”
With as many as 17 creatures expected to appear in the movie, there’s bound to be plenty of kaiju smash ‘em ups for our viewing pleasure.
This is a Blockbuster with Brains
Monster movies have always addressed the problems that concern the world at large. Godzilla was originally a metaphor for nuclear annihilation, war guilt, and shifting cultural values. Since then, the franchise has covered a wide range of sociopolitical topics. Much like Edwards’ Americanized version before it, King of the Monsters plans to give meaning to the mayhem.
Farmiga told ComingSoon that the movie contains a strong environmental message, which isn’t new ground for a Godzilla movie, but that’s always going to be a topical theme as long as we destroy our planet. Dougherty also stated that the film will focus on the importance of science, given how unfairly he believes it’s been questioned and targeted recently.
Future Monster Movies Stem from It
We already know that Godzilla vs. Kong is in the bag, but the future of the MonsterVerse is a mystery. If the new two movies are successful and Toho allows Legendary to keep using their creations, we’ll probably see more movies in the future.
The Toho franchise is one of the first examples of how successful universes can be, and some of Godzilla’s kaiju counterparts received their own movies outside of the King’s adventures. Movies dedicated to Rodan and Mothra would make a lot of sense given their long-term association with Godzilla flicks as well as their individual adventures. Maybe Legendary will introduce some new monsters that boast fresh franchise potential as well?
The studio is definitely interested. Alex Garcia recently told Toho Kingdom that the Monsterverse could have a future if everything goes according to plan. All we can do now is hope that the upcoming movies perform well at the box office and Toho is cool with continuing the license agreement with Legendary beyond their current deal.