When Warner Bros. and Legendary’s rebooted Godzilla released in 2014, it received a very mixed response, with the main criticism of the film being the lack of screen time for the titular monster. This year’s sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters was a monster extravaganza, with plenty of Godzilla and other titans lighting up the screen. That shift could be interpreted as a reaction to the criticism of the first film, but that was not the case, as King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty explained:
I think that even if there weren’t criticisms about the lack of Godzilla screen time with that film, we still would have taken the path that we took with this one. Even if you do a slow burn movie and it’s well received, you kind of only get a chance to do that once.
Contrary to what the stark difference in the two films might suggest, King of the Monsters was in no way a response to Godzilla, nor did Michael Dougherty feel forced to up the monster factor in the sequel. As he told Polygon, he believes that the equel would have always had more monsters and more Godzilla-- even if the first film had not been criticized for lacking enough of those elements.
Although that’s hypothetical, Michael Dougherty thinks that because you he wouldn’t have wanted to repeat the same approach. The King of the Monsters director really liked what Gareth Edwards did with Godzilla in making it a slow burn monster movie, but doesn’t think that’s a method you can use twice and definitely not back to back.
So Michael Dougherty felt that eschewing the slow burn approach of Godzilla was not a reaction to criticism, but simply the natural progression of the story and he looked to other iconic sequels for inspiration. As he explained:
Once you have established your monster, you need to up the ante a little bit in the next one. I used Wrath of Khan, T2, and Aliens as really good references of second chapters that built upon what was established in the first film to create a sequel that ideally is considered just as good, if not better, than the first entry.
Michael Dougherty makes a great point with his comparisons to those other iconic second chapters. Alien was a slow burn monster movie and it upped the Xenomorph ante for the sequel, and the same is true for The Terminator. James Cameron’s first movie was closer to a horror film that turned into more action/sci-fi for the sequel. So there is precedent for this kind of shift film to film in the genre with excellent results.
Those sequels each built upon the world and characters of the original films and the story itself provided the impetus to up the ante, no knee jerk reaction to criticism required. The same feels true for King of the Monsters. The world now knows about titans and the mythology has continued to expand with Kong: Skull Island.
You can't hide this new Godzilla now that the audience and the characters in the film have seen him and know what he looks like. Plus you have to always make the next fight tougher than the last, with stronger opponents and that leads to more monsters and the huge clash we got in Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is now playing. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of this summer’s biggest movies and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all your movie news.