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Dragons are a huge part of pop culture right now thanks to Game of Thrones, which set a new bar for what dragons (or wyverns) can look like onscreen. Because of that, any property looking to use dragons will have to distinguish them from what else is out there. Although Godzilla: King of the Monsters doesn’t feature a dragon in the traditional sense either, Ghidorah is dragon-like and therefore couldn’t be like other dragons, as the film’s production designer Scott Chambliss explained:
Ghidorah is from another planet and he’s basically the heavy in the film. One of the challenges was, we’re inundated with dragons in our culture right now. So, Ghidorah risks being the most ho-hum of [the monsters in the film]. What Michael did was, he played on the very human characteristics. He played on characteristics that we associate with human beings but he applied them to the monsters. Ghidorah, with his three heads, was an opportunity to have three different aspects of a generally similar creature.
Dragons are always awesome and it’s hard to imagine them ever becoming passé, but Scott Chambliss’ point stands. He and director Michael Dougherty didn’t want Ghidorah to be just another dragon; instead, they wanted him to be memorable and stand on his own as a creature that thrills audiences and feels like something different on the big screen.
That was obviously very important because Ghidorah isn’t just another creature among the sea of titans in the film, he’s the big bad, the King whose crown and title Godzilla must claim if the planet and humanity are to survive. So basically, he has to be cool and badass and unlike the dragons people are used to seeing.
To achieve that, Michael Dougherty gave Ghidorah human characteristics, as Scott Chambliss told Entertainment Weekly. Ghidorah and the rest of the titans aren’t just mindless killing machines. The titans all have their own motivations and unique personalities. We’ve seen dragons have personalities before; Drogon was not thrilled to see his mom hooking up with some stranger.
The difference with Ghidorah is that, to steal a line from the Game of Thrones source material, the dragon has three heads. Ghidorah isn’t a robot and his heads aren’t all acting in unison in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Despite sharing a body they each have different personalities unique to them, just as humans and animals do. So that will allow us to see different sides of Ghidorah and make him a more fully realized character, even if he doesn’t talk.
The film even used three different actors to portray Ghidorah's three heads via motion capture, giving each a unique performance. How all that will manifest itself for Ghidorah in and out of battle in the film we’ll have to wait and see, but it is something we’ve seen with multi-headed dragons before, like with Zak and Wheezie in Dragon Tales and Devon and Cornwall in Quest for Camelot.
The human personalities aren’t the only distinguishing factor for Ghidorah though. Although the Targaryen sigil may be a three-headed dragon, we aren’t used to seeing an actual three-headed dragon-like creature onscreen and in the trailers we’ve already seen how cool and effective that can be in battle.
Also, Ghidorah is not of this world and is thus seems more science fiction than fantasy. He also stands more upright than most dragons and despite being winged, scaled and with dragon-like heads, he doesn’t breathe fire and instead shoots lightning.
You can see King Ghidorah in all his glory when Godzilla: King of the Monsters arrives in theaters on May 31. Check out our 2019 release schedule to see all the biggest movies headed your way this summer.