Quick clarification: I am not talking about the 1956 film starring Raymond Burr (Godzilla: King of the Monsters).
In 2014, director Gareth Edwards did what Roland Emmerich could not in 1998: make an American Godzilla movie that actually felt like a Godzilla movie. While I personally enjoyed Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla, the film had obvious flaws. Moving forward with the series, Gareth Edwards has departed and Trick ‘R Treat helmer Michael Dougherty has been brought in to write and direct the sequel. Rather than the usual ‘Godzilla vs.’ format, the sequel title has gone a different route – Godzilla: King of Monsters.
Despite the unevenness that was Krampus, I feel that Dougherty is a strong candidate. One of the charms of the Godzilla series over the years has been its use of practical effects – something that this director was a big proponent of in Trick ‘R Treat and Krampus. Trick ‘R Treat also reflected Dougherty’s fandom, showcasing how skillfully he could recreate and pay homage to John Carpenter (a director he clearly admires). While that project didn’t speak to any love of kaiju, I would invite all to examine this piece of concept art from Dougherty’s unmade film, Calling All Robots:
Clearly, a fan is once again in the director’s chair, and that can only be a good thing. Part of the fundamental problem with the 1998 film was Emmerich’s admission that the never cared for Godzilla.
My confidence in Dougherty appears to equal Legendary’s. The studio has announced that, not only will Dougherty write and direct the new film, he has also been placed in charge of the “MonsterVerse.” This means that the director has been overseeing the writing of not just King of Monsters but Kong: Skull Island as well (as well as any unannounced kaiju films) . For those that don’t know, Legendary is hoping to recreate the success of Marvel (and the original Toho films) by creating a shared cinematic universe for their giant monster movies. This, of course, means that Godzilla and King Kong will fight.
Some may be feeling a little uneasy about the level of trust placed in Dougherty. After all, he has yet to direct a Godzilla film. I would not be too quick to worry. Most of the universe was established by Gareth Edwards, the man who created Monarch (the MonsterVerse version of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Kong: Skull Island was also pretty far along in development before he was brought in. For better or worse, the two origin pillars will already be set (as well as Godzilla vs. Kong).
That said, he will have some wriggle room. For starters, what kind of film will Godzilla: King of Monsters be? Given the tone of the 2014 film (as well as Toho covering the more serious approach), it is very likely that this movie will see Godzilla continue on as sort of an over-sized superhero – a force of nature that protects the Earth from outside threats. The fact that Legendary has acquired the rights to King Ghidorah (historically, Godzilla’s greatest villain) strengthens this idea.
A teaser shown at Comic-Con 2014 indicated that Legendary had acquired the rights to Rodan and Mothra as well (in addition to other unnamed Toho creations). Legendary was quick to clarify, however, that this was not necessarily the kaiju cast for Godzilla: King of Monsters. Chances are though that at least one of these monsters will appear.
Personally, I would like to see a continued mix. MUTO (while I wasn’t a big fan of its design) was something new and new monsters are part of what makes Godzilla great. Bringing in original adversaries will help the Legendary series continue to forge its own identity, rather than just feeling like Americanized version of certain Toho films. King Ghidorah may be too much escalation too soon.
I also have a sneaking feeling that Godzilla vs. Kong may be like Batman v Superman (but hopefully a better movie). What I mean is, given that Godzilla and King Kong are being set up as heroes, their movie might actually climax with them uniting to fight a common foe. I could see King Ghidorah being the hidden menace of that film, a monster so powerful that it takes Earth’s mightiest two kaiju to defeat it. Again – this is just a feeling.
I’m also a huge Anguirus fan soooooo…. hopefully he shows up soon.
It is far too early to know for certain any real details on Godzilla: King of Monsters (other than it will have Godzilla and other monsters in it). I feel fairly confident in saying one thing, however, and that is that the series appears to be in good hands.
Update: I made a mistake in thinking that this film was also titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters. I have since gone through and updated the article to show the correct title – sorry about that!
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