My Thoughts on the Leaked Godzilla Design – One Month Later
by Adam Striker
In December of 2015, Toho gave the world a glimpse of the latest Godzilla that will be featured in Shin Gojira (also known as Godzilla Resurgence). Its lumpy skin, ghastly teeth and pinprick eyes were unexpected, and the design elicited mixed reactions–particularly from western fans of the franchise. After a 12 year hiatus, this Godzilla was not what most fans expected. Some fans loved it, while others expressed disappointment in the design. However, this poster only revealed Godzilla’s head. The rest of the creature remained unknown.
This changed in early January when images of a maquette were leaked on the Internet. Godzilla’s upper body was composed of sinewy, meaty muscle. Its body was scarred and damaged, as if it had crawled out of a grave. This corpse-like design lit up the Internet, and even trended on numerous sites for a brief period. It was an extreme departure from Godzilla designs in recent memory. The reception for the design was just as mixed as when the poster was revealed.
It has been one month since images of the latest Godzilla design were leaked on the Internet. In that amount of time, I have mulled over it. Although the design is radically different, my sincere opinion is that this design is probably what the franchise needs. The Millennium series of Godzilla films (1999-2004) failed to tread new ground, and only one or two films expressed some form of innovation. Toho wanted to play it safe, reusing familiar monsters in place of new ones, and rehashing tired story lines. Ultimately, the Millennium franchise were not money-makers. Japan grew tired of Godzilla and most giant monster films well into the next decade. After Legendary Picture’s reboot sparked interest in Japan, Toho needed to try something new.
The design is a fresh take on what the King of Monsters truly represents. In 1954, Gojira romped into Japanese theaters and reminded citizens of the horrors that were witnessed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. As an allegory of the atomic bomb, Godzilla is not supposed to look beautiful, nor should he look remotely friendly. He is war incarnate, a symbol of the dangers that nuclear energy brings to modern civilization. Whether I agree with this political philosophy is beside the point, but as it stands this design is more true to the horrors of war than most. It rivals the very first Godzilla suit, which–while primitive–boasted an eerie appearance amidst a burning Tokyo metropolis.
While not officially confirmed, it is presumed by many that this Godzilla looks the way he does because of atomic radiation. The 1954 suit was designed to look like a radiation victim. It was modeled to vaguely resemble the survivors of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings. The victims were scarred and burned. The leaked design appears to drive this point home, and doesn’t pull any punches while doing so.
Does this mean that I find every other Godzilla movie beyond Gojira to be inferior? No. I couldn’t call myself a fan if that were the case. I love the Godzilla films of the Showa period (1954-1975), including the more silly entries of the 1970’s. I admire the effort put into the Heisei series (1984-1995) films, and while the Millennium series had its faults, I enjoyed some of those too. But Godzilla has remained a savior in many of his movies, even when stepping into the role of an anti-hero. Godzilla hasn’t been an outright terror since his very first film, and that is the direction the filmmakers wish to take this movie.
I honestly don’t care what the filmmakers do as long as the source material is respected, and I have no worries about that. I’m confident that I will enjoy it, even if this next Godzilla looks like a zombie. That’s my take on it.
After all…nothing is worse than what Godzilla fans received in 1998. Absolutely nothing.
Shin Gojira will stomp into Japanese theaters on July 29th, 2016. It is being directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, and will be the 29th Toho produced Godzilla film.