Director Mike Dougherty revealed several important details about Godzilla: King of the Monsters in set photos during production. Despite now releasing in May 2019, Godzilla 2 finished production in September 2017, leaving a whopping 20 months for post-production and marketing. Considering this is a major effects tentpole, that’s only to the film’s advantage, but also means there’s a lot more time for details to be revealed.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters continues the story began in Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla, seeing Gojira taking on new threats from other Titans, classic monsters from his Toho mythology: Ghidorah, Rodan and Mothra. So far, it’s been revealed that the plot involves Monarch and a terrorist rival who kidnaps paleobiologist Emma Russell and her daughter Madison in a bid to raise the beasts from their slumber. There’s also political debate over Godzilla, a military subplot and sure to be much, much more.
Most of this information has come from Godzilla: King of the Monsters trailers and merchandise, but there’s still a lot to be found in Dougherty’s set photos. While on their own innocuous, together they provide some key story reveals.
Godzilla 2’s Working Title Was Fathom
One of the earliest set photos contained revealed Godzilla 2‘s working title: Fathom. The official subtitle, King of the Monsters, had already been announced at the time, with this serving entirely as a production codename. Working titles exist to maintain a project’s secrecy and internal purposes, and so rarely have any big reveals themselves (Star Wars: The Last Jedi was known as Space Bear).
That said, there is some story connection between Fathom and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Part of the movie sees Monarch travel underwater to survey submerged buildings with carvings pertaining to the Titans and their origin, with the title Fathom certainly matches up with.
All Titans Will Share The Screen In Godzilla: King of the Monsters
There are four main monsters in Godzilla 2: Gojira himself, Ghidorah, Mothra and Rodan. The big villain is, of course, Ghidorah the three-headed monster, who is awakened from deep hibernation in the Antarctic and threatens the safety of the Earth with is stratosphere-tearing wings. Rodan emerges from a volcano in Mexico, while Mothra is found in the Yunnan Rainforest in China. So far, the trailers have only shown Godzilla and Ghidorah share the screen in a Batman v Superman-style showdown, but one of Dougherty’s set photos confirms they’ll all come together.
A call sheet for Day 6 of Godzilla: King of the Monsters lists all four Titans (in VFX, naturally). This is presumably a scene later on in the movie, likely the final showdown in what appears to be Washington D.C., which would further back up the theory that Rodan and Mothra ultimately team-up with Godzilla to take down Ghidorah.
The Actors Could See And Hear Godzilla On Set
One of the most challenging part of any VFX-driven movie is creating a believable environment for the actors. A tennis ball on a stick and cross on green screen are certainly suitable, but they leave an awful lot on the performers to imagine what they’re really interacting with. In recent years, we’ve seen things become considerably more ambitious, such as Star Wars‘ Millennium Falcon now having back-projected hyperspace (something that also makes adding the computer effects easier).
For Godzilla: King of the Monsters, it looks like Mike Dougherty, fitting of a director with a history of practical effects, went all out. Sound mixer Whit Norris built a piece of kit dubbed the “Behemoth”, which allowed the director to play a variety of sounds, from various machine gun sounds to choice Ghidorah effects (from growls to screams). He also revealed with a set photo that there were large screens with early VFX of the monsters that gave the actors a sense of scale and presence from the creatures.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters Features Wolves
There’s Titans aplenty in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but Dougherty’s set photos reveal other creature threat: wolves. On Day 46, the director shared a production note stating that “LIVE WOLVES BEING USED ON CAMERA TODAY” with a warning to avoid them and a ban on food. This, along with a subsequent tweet showing the Dougherty with one of the animals, obviously confirms that there will be wolves during one sequence in Godzilla 2.
While that doesn’t tell us much directly about the plot, we can take a good guess. There’s a major part of the film set in the freezing Antarctic, so it would seem likely this is where the threat comes from. It’s possible that Ghidorah’s awakening releases them, leading to a smaller-scale action scene.
The Oxygen Destroyer Is In Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Perhaps the biggest reveal about Godzilla: King of the Monsters from the set photos, though, is the presence of the Oxygen Destroyer. The ethically-questionable weapon used to take down Gojira in the original 1954 Godzilla, it’s another iconic piece of the character’s history making the journey to America; far from an Easter egg that Dougherty snapped on set, he’s since confirmed that it will have a key part to play in the film. Whether it’s used by Monarch or Argo to take down Godzilla or Ghidorah, it’s easy to theorize it’s at the center of the finale.
And it could have a bigger long-term impact. Further based on the director’s comments, Godzilla 3 may see the introduction of Destoroyah, a kaiju directly developed from the Oxygen Destroyer technology. Considering how much the MonsterVerse is honoring Toho’s original mythology, a similar outcome could be expected.
How much these Godzilla: King of the Monsters set photos actually reveal about the movie’s full plot will have to wait until the movie releases in May, but for now it’s abundantly clear there’s a lot more to the movie than the trailers have shown so far.