Sequels to Godzilla (2014): The Current Theories
With an almighty roar and the thunderous earthquake of gargantuan footsteps, the King of the Monsters smashed his way back onto the big screen this month. The new Godzilla opened to positive reviews, earning a grand total of $196,588,384 worldwide on its opening weekend. Prior to this, few people seriously believed that a film starring the titular titan would ever make that kind of money again, especially not after the 1998 attempt at an American Godzilla film. Indeed, reboots of classic films have been doing somewhat poorly recently; one only has to look at the box office take of RoboCop (2014), for example, to see that. Only the hardcore fans, and perhaps a few deluded nuts like myself, really felt that the newest film could do well. Indeed, so certain were some pundits of the film’s spectacular failure that several magazines ran articles claiming confidently that this would be the case; pundits such as John Furrier, working for Forbes, who claimed that Godzilla would be “the biggest box office bomb of 2014. Godzilla as a character is box office poison.”
Fortunately for fans of the Big G, these predictions of disaster were wrong. With the first movie in the Legendary Series being enough of a success to warrant sequels, the speculation amongst fan communities now turns to the future of the franchise, and what sort of stories we can expect from Gareth Edwards’ next contributions to the Godzilla mythos. Now, Godzilla fans can be a somewhat fiery lot when it comes to their fan theories, with various forums and websites becoming battlegrounds for these daikaiju fanatics as they debate which members of the famous Toho menagerie is likely to appear in the next film. Evidence for any of the suggestions is somewhat scarce at the moment. After all, the sequels have only just been confirmed, let alone fully scripted yet, so to expect clear details right now would be optimistic at best. However, two fan theories in particular have surfaced that seem to have greater credibility than others, and it’s these ideas that this article will be focussing on.
It didn’t take long for the cast of Godzilla to start talking about sequels, did it? Even before the opening of his first attempt, director Gareth Edwards had already discussed the idea of a second film, mentioning that the idea of a “Destroy All Monsters” follow-up was one he rather liked. Immediately, fans latched onto the creature that some had first thought would appear in Godzilla (2014), Mothra. In some ways, the moth-slash-nature deity seems like an obvious choice; with a brief allusion made to her in the first film and cast members such as Aaron Taylor-Johnson even nodding to the idea in an interview he gave with Cinemablend.com, it would seem that there is a strong possibility Edwards and company may choose to utilise her in a sequel. That said, Mothra is also something of a difficult character to mesh with the pseudo-realism of the Legendary series. From her first film appearance in Mothra (1961) onwards, Mothra has been depicted as a blatantly deific creature, tied to images of ritual and nature worship. While the MUTOs and Godzilla himself were presented as ancient beasts reawakened by the advent of nuclear energy on the surface, it would appear to be a much harder task to reconcile Mothra’s existence and the role of the Shobijin with these pseudo-scientific origins, and the inclusion of deities in a chapter of the franchise that seems focussed on reality may test the audiences’ suspension of disbelief a little too much.
There are still several very strong points in favour of Mothra’s inclusion in the new timeline, of course. The presence of pseudo-realism does not necessarily mean that we won’t see everyone’s favourite nature goddess/giant insect any time soon. The scriptwriters managed to successfully modernise the concept of Godzilla, and while the idea of giant radiation-eating monsters may seem more plausible at first glance than nigh-immortal insect gods, it might not actually be so great a stretch to modernise Mothra so that she fits into this new trend, while still maintaining her status as a metaphor for nature’s power. Indeed, given that the newest films have adopted a greater focus on the idea of humanity’s arrogance before nature, it seems only fitting that she appear in the sequels. If anything, these environmentalist themes add even greater credence to the idea of a Mothra appearance, and while adapting the original concept to a new, admittedly more pseudo-realistic setting would be difficult, it’s not impossible in the hands of a good writing team. The only Toho daikaiju arguably better suited to an environmentally-focussed Godzilla film series would be Hedorah, and as Mothra’s fame eclipses the smog monster’s own, deciding which one is more likely to be utilised is easy enough.
Furthermore, due to both the comments of the cast and of course the brief easter egg referencing her in the first of these films, it’s pretty clear that the moth goddess is one of the big names being tossed around by Edwards and Legendary. Indeed, as will be discussed in much greater detail later, Edwards’ comments on what sort of concept he’d like to use for a sequel lend even greater weight to the possibility of Mothra’s inclusion in the new franchise. As a result of all this, her appearing in at least one of the upcoming films seems to be a fairly safe bet even without any official word on the matter, though she’s not the only famous face that fans believe will be chosen.
There is another fan theory that’s gained a lot of traction, and this one involves the aforementioned three-headed dragon. Now, unlike Mothra, Ghidorah has not come up in the interviews conducted by the cast, nor has Edwards specifically mentioned him in any way that might indicate his appearance in sequels. Indeed, compared to the more talked-about Mothra, Ghidorah seems like something of an even more unusual and frankly unlikely choice; at least, until a recent discovery on the website MUTOresearch.net came to light. This site, a viral marketing website set up by Legendary to promote the film and generate interest, displays messages depending on what is typed into it. Fans discovered that when the names “Monster X” and “Monster Zero” were typed into it, a message that differed significantly from the others; whereas normally the system would state that it could “neither deny or confirm the existence of this lifeform,” when these specific messages are typed in they instead warn of the creature’s approach. Now, it’s worth noting that this also occurs if you type in the word “monster.” Perhaps the system is simply responding to the presence of this word in the phrase being typed in. However, there is further evidence to support the idea of Ghidorah, in one form or another, appearing in the Legendary timeline. Typing in “Kaiser Ghidorah” or “Keizer Ghidorah” brings up an even more interesting slew of responses, ranging from a denial of access to “private files” to outright informing the person typing that they’ve been blocked by outside interference. Furthermore, typing in “Astro-monster,” another of Ghidorah’s many aliases, results in a similarly chilling message.
What fans have taken away from this, besides the fact that it’s great fun to pretend to hack into the files of MONARCH, is that Ghidorah was either a favourite of the people who set that website up or that Gareth Edwards has bigger plans for the space dragon. Ghidorah, much like Mothra, is a highly recognisable member of the Toho menagerie, and if there’s anything Legendary will be looking for in future monsters, it’ll be that. Ghidorah also has the distinction of being one of the monsters fans generally identify as being Godzilla’s arch-nemesis, and as a result if Edwards wants to pit the King of the Monsters against something that could really challenge his might, he could do far worse than the space dragon as a choice.
Overall, given the contrast between Toho’s famous reaction to the last American attempt at a Godzilla movie and their pleasure at the newest one, this can only be construed as a good sign for Edwards’ future visions of the project. That said, Ghidorah’s origins are even more confusing than Mothra’s; at times he’s either been an alien time-travel experiment, a menace from the stars responsible for Venus being unable to support life or even an ancient Japanese guardian deity. Here we once again have to trust in the writing team who’ll tackle these next films and their ability to encourage suspension of disbelief, should Ghidorah be picked. They managed it with the MUTOs in the first film, after all, and while a writer hasn’t yet been confirmed for the sequels, it stands to reason that Edwards will want to carry on pleasing Toho by staying true to their visions of the characters, given both the boost it would give his career and the fact that he’s a rather big fan of these old movies himself.
Destroy All Monsters
Interestingly, the fact that so many rumours are focussing around Mothra and King Ghidorah ties rather interestingly into earlier comments made by Edwards regarding the kind of follow-up film he’d like to make, which he made before sequels were officially greenlit. When asked, he mentioned that he would like to use the same concept as Destroy All Monsters did at some point, particularly with regards to Monster Island. Interestingly, both Mothra and Ghidorah have something of a history of conflict independent of Godzilla himself; in the Rebirth of Mothra series, the most common foe Mothra and Mothra Leo fight is a Ghidorah form of some description, and both the original Destroy All Monsters and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster feature battles between the two as part of the plot. Indeed, if Gareth Edwards was serious when he commented that he’d love to use the Monsterland concept in Destroy All Monsters, then it seems very likely that he will also seek to use some of the more famous daikaiju that appeared in that film.
Of course, this concept hinges on one thing, as mentioned above; Toho’s willingness to allow their other monstrous film stars to be used. If Legendary cannot secure rights to utilise Mothra, Ghidorah or any other members of that particular stable, then these fan theories, however well thought out, will ultimately amount to nothing. As mentioned before, Edwards’ first effort got a very positive reception from Toho, but while this is a good sign for those of us wanting to see more classic Godzilla monsters in the sequels, until official word is released these rumours will remain just that. While it is also possible that Toho will withhold the rights to their stable of characters once more and thus force Edwards’ team to come up with some more new additions to the family, after his first outing with the king of the monsters was a critical success it would appear that Toho refusing to allow their other creations to be used is the more unlikely scenario. As a result, it’s hoped amongst fan communities that the restrictions will be lifted on which daikaiju Legendary have the rights to use – after all, neither of these theories really work if Edwards doesn’t have the legal permission to use the featured monsters in the first place.
If this article can make any point with certainty, it’s that there seems to be a great deal of enthusiasm amongst monster fans for the appearances of both Mothra and King Ghidorah in the upcoming Godzilla sequels, and some indication that the support for these monsters isn’t purely a fan-based thing. Ultimately, of course, it’s still very much up in the air whether or not any classic Toho daikaiju will make an appearance in Edwards’ next entries into the Legendary series. After all, as was stated at the start of this article, with the first film only having been released in the USA and Western Europe a month ago, it’s highly doubtful that any serious script-work has been completed yet beyond a basic level, let alone finished enough for the Big G’s enemies to have been selected. Of course, fan theories never need any grounding in evidence to take off – and given that both of these two theories seem to have a surprising amount of weight behind them already, who knows? Perhaps we’ll be hearing the beating of enormous wings and the shrieks of multiple heads again sooner than we might expect.
What do you think? Leave a comment.