Everything We Know About Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
There are few movie monsters as famous as Godzilla. The giant, fire-breathing radioactive reptile first appeared on screens in the 1954 Japanese classic Gojira, a surprisingly dark movie that was as much an allegory for the wartime atomic bombing of Japan as it was a monster movie. The huge popularity of that film spawned dozens of sequels and spin-offs over the next few decades. These films introduced a whole host of other big monsters, and were subsequently dubbed and exported to the US with considerable success.
There have also been a number of attempts to produce a version of Godzilla in Hollywood. In 1978, legendary American animation studio Hanna-Barbera teamed up with Toho, who own the rights to the character, to create a short-lived cartoon series. In 1992, Columbia Pictures acquired the US rights, with the intention of creating a new trilogy. But the critical and commercial failure of the result--1998's Godzilla, from Independence Day director Roland Emmerich--quickly ended those plans.
But in 2014, Hollywood tried again and got it right. This version of Godzilla was an entertaining and popular take on the classic material, that featured some stunning set-pieces from director Gareth Edwards and an impressive cast that included Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Sally Hawkins. It made more than $529 million at the worldwide box office, and helped kickstart a new big monster cinematic universe, known as the MonsterVerse. Godzilla was quickly joined by last year's equally successful Kong: Skull Island, and next May, Godzilla: King of the Monsters arrives. So ahead of that, here's everything we know so far about Godzilla: King of the Monsters...
When is the movie released?
Godzilla: King of the Monsters hits US theaters on May 31, 2019. This is actually the third release date the movie has had--it was originally scheduled for June 2018, before being shifted to March, then to May. The only other movie currently scheduled for release on the same day is the musical fantasy Rocketman, based on the music of Elton John. However, King of the Monsters will only have a week to claim a No.1 slot on the box office chart, before the X-Men movie Dark Phoenix hits screens seven days later.
Who is the director?
Godzilla: King of the Monsters is directed by Michael Dougherty. This is Dougherty's third film as a director, following his cult Halloween anthology Trick 'r Treat (2007) and the seasonal monster movie Krampus (2015), and he was also a co-writer on movies such as X-Men 2 and Superman Returns. Gareth Edwards was originally set to return for this one but in May 2016 decided to step away to focus on smaller movies. In January 2017 Dougherty was announced as director.
What cast members are returning from the first movie?
For the most part, Godzilla: King of Monsters has an entirely new cast. But there are two characters returning--scientists Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins). They work for Monarch, the secret organisation dedicated to investigating big monsters in the MonsterVerse. Watanabe is best known for movies such as Inception and The Last Samurai, while Hawkins has had a lot of success in the last couple of years with both The Shape of Water and Paddington 2.
Who is in the new cast?
An impressive list of big-name stars enter the MonsterVerse for King of the Monsters. The cast is headed by Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring, The Departed) as Dr. Emma Russell, a scientist working for Monarch alongside her daughter Madison, played by Stranger Things break-out star Millie Bobby Brown. Kyle Chandler (First Man, Game Night) plays Emma's ex-husband Mark.
There are also supporting roles for Bradley Whitford (Get Out, The West Wing) and Chinese star Zhang Ziyi, playing Dr. Stanton and Dr. Chen respectively. Silicon Valley lead Thomas Middleditch is Sam Coleman, the communications liaison between Monarch and the government, while O'Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton) plays an officer in Monarch's special military group. There's also role for veteran actor Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Alien 3).
What is the movie about?
The plot of Godzilla: King of Monsters has, unsurprisingly, been kept a secret for the most part. But we do know a few details. The official synopsis reads: "The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species--thought to be mere myths--rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity's very existence hanging in the balance."
Monarch has become an increasingly bigger part of the MonsterVerse across the movies so far, and it looks like this latest film puts the focus primarily on them. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dougherty revealed that Farmiga's character, Monarch scientist Dr. Emma Russell, is kidnapped by "a mysterious organization, with their own plans for the creatures." According to EW this kicks off a "rescue mission", led by Russell's ex-husband Mark, her daughter Madison, and scientists Serizawa and Graham.
And of course, there's the small matter of the monsters...
What monsters are we getting?
Godzilla is all about the monsters, fans of the original Japanese movies will know that the Godzilla universe is packed with fearsome creatures. As the title suggests King of the Monsters gives us three more giant beasts--King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra.
Mothra is a giant centipede who transforms--like a caterpillar--into a moth-like creature. He’s usually portrayed as being on the side of the humans, and in original Japanese movies was accompanied by two humanoid fairies (really!) Rodan is a giant winged reptile, and King Ghidorah is Godzilla's greatest nemesis--a terrifying three-headed beast, with the ability to shoot devastating energy beams.
What else have we learnt from the trailers?
Two trailers have been released so far. From the first, we know that the big monsters are being referred to as "titans", and that Dr. Russell is very keen to locate them, referring to them as the Earth's "original and rightful rulers." From her voiceover, it seems that they hold the key to the survival of the Earth--exactly how and why is not clear. We see Godzilla roaring blue flame into the sky and the other monsters are glimpsed fleetingly--Rodan skimming across the surface of the water and King Ghidorah coming towards the camera, backlit by flame.
The second trailer doesn't reveal much more plot, but it definitely shows a lot more monster action. We see Ghidorah rising from a volcano, Rodan doing battle with jet fighters, and Mothra swooping into battle. The trailer suggests that Mothra is one of Godzilla's allies, while the trailer ends with Godzilla and Ghidorah about to get into a serious fight.
Who wrote King of the Monsters?
The movie was written by Dougherty, Max Borenstein, and Zach Shields. Borenstein is most consistent creative figure in the MonsterVerse so far, having co-written both Godzilla and Skull Island. Shields might be new to the these movies, but he co-wrote Krampus with Dougherty, as well as directing some short spin-off films from Trick 'r Treat.
Will King of the Monsters get a sequel?
Godzilla is definitely returning for more action. Production has already started on Godzilla vs. Kong, which--as the title suggests--will deliver the ultimate showdown between cinema's two greatest monsters. It's directed by Adam Wingard (Death Note, The Guest), and the cast includes Alexander Skarsgård (Hold the Dark), Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta), and Demián Bichir (Alien: Covenant), with Millie Bobby Brown and Kyle Chandler both set to reprise their roles from King of the Monsters. And we won't have to wait too long for this one--it currently has a May 2020 release date.
What is Godzilla: Aftershock?
Godzilla: Aftershock is a prequel graphic novel that will be published in the spring by Legendary Comics. It bridges the gap between the first movie and the new one, and sees Godzilla face a "new original monster." It will also introduce several of the new characters from King of the Monsters, including Dr. Russell, and will reveal more about the inner-workings of Monarch. The graphic novel is written by Arvid Nelson, who previously wrote the Skull Island prequel comic Skull Island: The Birth of Kong, and illustrated by Drew Edward Johnson.