Warning: SPOILERS for Godzilla: King of the Monsters to follow!
We’ve heard a lot about how Godzilla: King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty and production designer Scott Chambliss really wanted to get the look of the monsters right for the film. They put a lot of thought into honoring the classic designs of these creatures and updating their appearances. The designs weren’t all about the form though; they were also about function and the biology and evolution of these creatures. For example, Michael Dougherty explained how Godzilla’s spikes work:
Michael Dougherty is responding to a fan on Twitter asking about why Godzilla’s spikes look different in the new film. We know that he wanted them to look closer to their original 1954 design, but there was already an established look in the current iteration from 2014’s Godzilla. But in the prequel graphic novel, Godzilla: Aftershock, something happens to the titan’s dorsal plates/spikes that sees them destroyed, which then allows for them to grow back and look different.
So rather than Godzilla’s spikes looking a certain way simply ‘because it’s cool,’ there is a biological explanation. Michael Dougherty views Godzilla’s plates as similar to other continuously growing things in nature. Our own hair and fingernails are made out of keratin, but he also likens the plates to antlers in deer, which are made out of bone and continuously grow, shed and break.
This explanation makes sense because it is something that exists in nature and it will presumably allow for Godzilla to get a little bit of a different look in each new movie. One thing that does not exist in nature, to my knowledge anyway, is the Burning/Fire Godzilla form the titular creature takes at the end of the film to defeat Ghidorah. Michael Dougherty has something of an explanation for it anyways though, when asked if Godzilla can use it anytime:
The form seen at the end of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, where he basically looks as if he is a volcano about to erupt, is only temporary and not something that Godzilla can pull out at any moment when the need arises. This is only achievable when certain conditions are met. Just like Goku requires the help of other Saiyans to attain Super Saiyan God, Godzilla requires the help of another, namely Mothra.
At the end of the movie, Mothra sacrifices herself for a battered Godzilla, allowing Ghidorah to destroy her. She is vaporized and the dust from her body falls upon Godzilla. This would seem to be the symbiosis that Michael Dougherty is referencing and it gives Godzilla the boost required to attain his fire form.
Godzilla was also about to go nuclear thanks to the bomb set off to save him by Dr. Serizawa. So that may have also been one of the necessary conditions. The big factor was Mothra though, and this is just one example of the relationship between her and Godzilla. Michael Dougherty went on to speak to their relationship. Check it out:
That is really cool. I dig that there was so much thought given to these Titans as if they were real animals, including how they function and the adaptive traits they have. Michael Dougherty is like the David Attenborough of Titans and his spinoff idea for a Planet Earth style titan doc suddenly doesn’t sound so strange.
Mothra’s spots resembling Godzilla’s eyes are an example of mimicry, where a species mimics a model to change how predators perceive it and behave towards it. By modeling herself after Godzilla’s eyes, Mothra is basically saying ‘I’m with him’ and letting others know that she is not to be messed with. It’s a pretty cool insight into their relationship and her status as the Queen of the Monsters.