Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a movie that has a lot of heavy lifting to do. It not only has to create a compelling story and impressive action, but that action has to feel massive, so as to properly represent the massive monsters that are engaging in it. In addition, those monsters have to be interesting, exciting, and compelling. Bringing so many new creatures into the film was likely quite overwhelming, but King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty says that Mothra was particularly daunting.
While characters like Godzilla or Ghidorah come across like dinosaurs or dragons, classic monsters that everybody knows and loves (and fears), Mothra was, well...a moth, but director Dougherty says he found inspiration not only in the old Toho movies that introduced the character, but also other giant insect films that came before...
Mothra was daunting, I have to admit. There was a minute where I wasn’t sure if there was a cool way to do Mothra. Because it’s a giant month. But what I did was I went back and looked at all the giant insect movies that we had seen. Going back to Tarantula from the ‘50s or most recently Starship Troopers. And I realized there’s an opportunity with Mothra. Because she brings such a different vibe.
Insects are tiny things that most of us pay little mind to. Of course, that's also why the concept of giant insects that could swallow us whole can be so unnerving. The concept has been investigated in countless films over the decades, and each of them helped inform the new version of Mothra for Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
As Michael Dougherty tells Collider, Mothra isn't quite like the rest of the creatures that appear in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. While the rest of the titans are basically just monsters that are really good at stepping on buildings or biting holes in each other, Mothra is different. She's the only one of the creatures that has been historically presented as entirely good, and Michael Dougherty says was the reason she could be handled differently, which was solution to the daunting problem. According to Dougherty...
There’s something truly benevolent and beautiful and comforting about her. But she can throw down when she needs to. So it was fun to explore her more as, approach her more as a deity. Almost more of a spiritual presence.
In Godzilla: King of the Monsters, while Mothra does get into the dirt and brawl with the rest of the monsters eventually, she mostly stays out of the fight, and when she does take a more active role in the story, it's to act as a sort of conduit between Godzilla and the humans. She clearly has power that is unlike the rest of the titans, and while it largely goes unexplained, it's exactly for that reason that she feels more like a deity that just a monster.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is in theaters now.