For over 60 years, Godzilla has been wreaking havoc and saving humanity as the crown jewel of Toho’s iconic monster movies. Starring in 29 of the studio’s beloved features, Godzilla is the oldest and longest running franchise in film history, beating even 007 himself. Hollywood has attempted to bring Godzilla to the screen with mixed results, “Americanizing” the Japanese films with new footage and dubbed dialogue since the 50s as well as the now notorious 1998 CGI monstrosity. In 2014 Warner Bros. rebooted the Godzilla legend with another self-titled blockbuster movie that leaned heavily into the the source material and was successful enough that the studio announced a Monsterverse franchise, that continued with this year’s Kong: Skull Island.
That film teased the arrival of some of Toho‘s biggest monsters, and now Warner Bros. has announced that filming is about to begin on their newest Monsterverse movie, Godzilla: King of Monsters, directed by Michael Dougherty and starring Ken Wantanbe, Millie Bobbie Brown, Vera Farmigera, and Sally Hawkins (not to be confused with Adam Wingard’s Godzilla film). Though the cast is great, the most exciting thing is the reveal that the new film will indeed be focused on Toho’s marvelous monster menagerie.
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Kaiju fans will know that there’s so much more to the legend of Godzilla than just the titular titan, but just who are these captivating creatures? Where do they come from? How many times have they fought Godzilla before? Here’s a rundown of the new additions to WB’s Monster Island.
A giant pteranodon, Rodan is one of the few Toho monsters who’s an actual dinosaur—in Japan, its name is Radon, a contraction of the dinosaur it was named after. It began life in Toho’s first color kaiju movie, Radon, Giant Monster of the Sky, before becoming a part of the larger Godzilla series. As Godzilla was conceived to represent the American atomic threat, Rodan was created to represent the Soviets’ budding nuclear power. Though its first appearance was just as a terrifying monster problem for the film’s scientists to solve, Rodan later took on a more heroic role in films such as Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, where Rodan teams up with Godzilla to save Mothra and the world by defeating the three headed uber kaiju, Ghidorah. Starring in 10 Toho films over a 60 year period, Rodan is one of the less prolific but no less recognisable kaiju, whose dinosaur origins make a lot of sense for the more prehistoric tone that Kong: Skull Island set for the franchise.
Though many of the studio’s most famous creations cross the line between hero and villain–often saving the world rather than destroying it–Mothra is almost always painted as a protector and hero in Toho monster movies, whether it’s her own island, Japan, or the world. Usually accompanied by two fairies, Mothra is a unique addition to the Warner Bros. Monsterverse, but an unsurprising one. Mothra is largely recognized as the second most popular creature from the Toho kaiju movies and has starred 13 movies, coming second only to Godzilla in number of appearances. Her iconic design—a large moth or caterpillar depending on the incarnation—has made her a hit with kaiju fans around the world. Her massive popularity with female cinema goers in Japan, who were buying the majority of theater tickets at the time, led to the production of Godzilla vs. Mothra in 1992. If Warner Bros. sticks to her heroic roots and unique powerset, Mothra could be the unexpected hit of the Monsterverse.
Arguably the coolest of Toho’s iconic monsters, King Ghidorah’s three-headed golden scaled visage is truly a sight to behold. The mortal enemy of Godzilla and Mothra—though there’s one instance where Mothra and Ghidorah are allied—this flying dragon has a number of origins, including his debut in 1964 as an extraterrestrial. Inspired by a sketch of an ancient greek Lernaean Hydra and the Orochi of Japanese folklore, King Ghidorah is one of the most imposing foes Godzilla has ever faced. During the Shōwa era of Toho, Ghidorah was often an intergalactic pawn used by aliens trying to take over Earth. Later it would be reimagined as a futuristic monster created to stop Japan’s future economic dominance by an evil group who attempted to halt the creation of Godzilla so that Ghidorah could destroy Japan with no interference. Due to Ghidorah’s prominence as a solid villain throughout Toho monster history, it’s pretty likely that Godzilla may once again have to team up with Mothra and Rodan to beat this biggest of bads.
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How do you feel about Hollywood finally tackling these iconic monsters? Are you excited to see them on the big screen? Or do you just wish they’d finally give Godzilla’s cute chubby son Minira his own feature? get in touch and let us know!
Images: Toho Studios