Warning: SPOILERS for Godzilla: King of the Monsters below!
Even before the release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, it was clear that director Michael Dougherty and the people involved in the sequel were fans of the property themselves and wanted to do it justice and honor it in the new film. This has been apparent from the desire not to f-up the look of the monsters to incorporating design cues from the 1954 film, to the soundtrack to the film’s Easter eggs.
On that last point, we heard that Godzilla: King of the Monsters would have a bunch of great Easter eggs for fans of the 65-year-old property, and now that the movie is out we have an idea of what some of those Easter eggs are. But there is one Easter egg in particular that no one is talking about, and with good reason because it is confusing in the moment and requires serious knowledge of the franchise’s history.
In the film, Zhang Ziyi plays Dr. Ilene Chen, one of the newer members of the exceedingly well-funded Monarch organization that researches and tracks the Titans. At one point in the movie, she is aboard Monarch’s battleship called the Argo while Godzilla and Ghidorah are engaged in battle off the coast of Mexico. The military doesn’t want to just ‘let them fight’ and launches an Oxygen Destroyer bomb to kill both Godzilla and Ghidorah.
The bomb seemingly kills Godzilla and the hydra-like Ghidorah just loses a head only to regenerate it, and Zhang Ziyi’s Dr. Ilene Chen is there, aboard the Argo, off the coast of Mexico to witness it all. Here’s where things get weird. We then see her thousands of miles away at Monarch’s base in China, where a caterpillar-stage Mothra was introduced earlier in the film.
There, Zhang Ziyi’s character witnesses Mothra emerging from the waterfall she fled to earlier in the movie, coming out of her cocoon a full grown moth titan. It’s something of a jarring moment in the film and it makes you wonder if Monarch borrowed some of the Westerosi teleportation tech used in Game of Thrones Season 7 and Season 8 to get Zhang Ziyi from Godzilla’s death near Mexico to Mothra’s rebirth in China.
But contrary to first impressions, this was not a mistake or the result of logic falling victim to plot expedience. The truth, as spotted by i09, is that in the scene where Mothra comes out of her cocoon in China, Zhang Ziyi is not playing Dr. Ilene Chen. She is instead playing a character called Ling Chen according to the film’s credits, or Dr. Ling according to IMDb.
Dr. Ling Chen is Ilene Chen’s twin sister. This isn’t really acknowledged at all in the film and audiences aren’t given much of an explanation. Later on, we find out that Zhang Ziyi’s Ilene Chen comes from a family of female Monarch employees who all bear a striking resemblance to one another and either worked, lived or were born on a place called Infant Island. Giving Ilene Chen a twin that she never interacts with might seem like an odd choice, but it is actually a deep Easter Egg into Toho History.
Mothra debuted onscreen in 1961’s Mothra, and in that film, the titular creature lives on a place called Infant Island. There, she is guarded by the Shobijin, two miniature twin priestesses that also act as translators for the creature. The fairy-like creatures have been portrayed in different ways with different backstories over the years, but the common thread is that the psychic duo (and sometimes trio) can communicate with Mothra and act as her translators and ambassadors.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters eschews any psychic powers or strange origin for the Zhang Ziyi’s twins, but by including Ling Chen, the film is clearly nodding to the Shobijin that have been tied to Mothra since her inception. It winds up playing super weird in the film, being both jarring and unexplained, but it does represent a cool deep cut for die-hard fans.