Why Mothra Was Difficult To Design For Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Mothra in Godzilla: King of the Monsters

One of the Titans being introduced to the MonsterVerse at the end of the month in Godzilla: King of the Monsters is Mothra. While Godzilla has already had a couple go-arounds in American productions, King of the Monsters marks Mothra’s debut in such a project after decades of appearing in Japanese movies. As it turns out, it was the simplistic designs of the earlier Mothras that made it difficult for Mothra to be visually developed for King of the Monsters, as I learned during an interview with production designer Scott Chambliss. He explained:

The earliest incarnations of all our creatures have an unrefined comic book simplicity to them, and Mothra was arguably the least ‘designed’ of all as her initial versions are standard moths blown up to a zillion times their actual scale. In developing Mothra, our intention was to give her an essentially feminine power in contrast to the hypermasculinity of the other three creatures, and to imbue her with undeniable strength and grace plus an ability to be incredibly frightening at the same time. We went through endless design iterations striving to nail down what all that meant visually. One of the more memorable moments was when we hit a phase of ‘armourized’ Mothra. For a moment in time her cocoon looked like a military tank.

While Mothra is unquestionably a force to be reckoned with in the Toho monster movies, like Scott Chambliss pointed out, she doesn’t look as monstrous as her cohorts, instead just looking like if a regular, unassuming moth had been blown up to the size of a building. Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ Mothra still has those insectoid features and looks more realistic in some regards, but Chambliss and his team made sure that she also looked more powerful and intimidating. Those praying mantis-like legs and the bigger wingspan definitely help convey that.

As Scott Chambliss also mentioned, unlike fellow newcomers Rodan and King Ghidorah, Mothra will have more than one form in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which is in keeping with the source material. She’ll be discovered by some of the main human characters in her impressive cocoon and eventually emerge in her larva form. But once those wings stretch out and Mothra takes to the skies, she’ll get to take part in the explosive action and show American moviegoers unfamiliar with her why she shouldn’t be underestimated, with her most unique power being the ability to unleash ‘god rays.’

As for whether or not Mothra will be an ally or enemy to Godzilla in this next MonsterVerse entry, that hasn’t officially been clarified yet. However, given Mothra’s benevolent nature in the Japanese movies, her behaving friendly to Millie Bobby Brown’s Madison Russell and her shown fighting King Ghidorah, it seems likely that Godzilla won’t have to worry about Mothra giving him too much trouble, if any at all.

It’s also worth mentioning that in a previous interview, director Michael Dougherty revealed that the eye spots on Mothra’s wings were designed to resemble Godzilla’s eyes, thus creating a connection between those two. Whether that will be significantly explored in Godzilla: King of the Monsters or saved for a future MonsterVerse movie remains to be seen.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters rampages into theaters on May 31. If you’re curious about what other movies are opening in theaters later this year, look through our 2019 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.