Given that this week’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the sequel to Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla, you would think that the titular lizard looks exactly the same in the new film. That isn’t the case though, at least not entirely, because Godzilla underwent a bit of a makeover for his latest epic monster clash. A lot of thought went into Godzilla’s appearance in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as the film’s director, Michael Dougherty, explained:
His back spikes are closer in alignment to the original 1954 film. I really loved their design. They sort of almost look like frozen fire. And the thing that I’ve always believed is that Godzilla’s spikes are his literal crown. If Godzilla’s swimming straight at you, there is a great silhouette created by his spikes, and they look like a crown sitting atop his head. It was important to me that they be larger and, since five years have transpired, [I] like to imagine that, much like the antlers on deer or elk they have simply grown larger over those years.
Frozen fire is a really cool way to describe Godzilla’s spikes, and for the new movie, Michael Dougherty sought to tweak those spikes from the last film to bring them a little more in line with the monster's first big screen appearance, as he told Entertainment Weekly. That adds another nice little nod to the titan’s past in a film that has been teased as being chock full of Easter eggs for fans of the property.
Michael Dougherty also views Godzilla’s spikes as his crown, making him the titular king of the monsters. So in addition to tweaking their design, he wanted this crown to have greater prominence in his movie that sees multiple titans contend for the throne. Apparently Godzilla is still a growing lad, and in the time since the first movie, his spikes have grown even larger.
Bigger spikes just make Godzilla look even cooler and it’s quite appropriate that the spikes that form his crown have grown because heavy will be his head as he attempts to save the Earth and contends with Ghidorah for the title of king. I also really dig the idea that he’s still growing in some ways. To paraphrase another property featuring epic battles, this isn’t even his final form!
This all goes to show how much thought went in to Godzilla’s look in the film and how much Michael Dougherty cares about the property and wanted to put his own stamp on it. Godzilla’s appearance in King of the Monsters isn’t purely formal though it’s also functional. The titans get new looks when fighting and charging up for their attacks, as the film's production designer Scott Chambliss explained:
What we did was bring something new to the monsters themselves, a visual physical manifestation of how each of the monsters charge up before they let their highest voltage energy blasts rip. In our version, his breath starts down at his very base and goes up his tail, and courses through his body, and you see it kind of radiating through his flesh, and finally comes out in a big blast. It’s not that every monster has the same thing, just a different color, they’ve all got something where we see their bodies gearing up before they let go.
You can see what he is talking about in the latest Godzilla 2 trailer, in which we see Godzilla charging up to use his atomic breath. His spikes glow with blue energy starting at his tail before coursing up his back and to his head where he spits out his attack. There’s even a great humming sound that isn’t entirely different from the sound a lightsaber makes while he’s doing it.
It’s a very cool visual that shows the amount of energy Godzilla has inside him and it adds a nice build to his most potent weapon. As Scott Chambliss said, the other Titans have visual representations of their charging as well, each unique to that creature. We’ve seen Ghidorah crackling with electric energy in the trailers and presumably the ethereal glow around Mothra is her deceptively beautiful precursor to violent attack.
You can see Godzilla’s new look when Godzilla: King of the Monsters stomps into theaters on May 31. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all of this summer’s biggest movies.