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How do you go from moth to…Mothra? Turns out it takes more than just waiting around in a cocoon.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters production designer Scott Chambliss knew he had to create a monster from almost nothing, because while earlier incarnations of Mothra had made the creature a kaiju legend, they were too simplistic. Chambliss wanted to go beyond just a moth that had been monster-ized to ginormous proportions, which is basically what Mothra was in past movies. This meant he had to put her through a sort of metamorphosis.
“Mothra was arguably the least ‘designed’ of all [the Godzilla characters] as her initial versions are standard moths blown up to a zillion times their actual scale,” Chambliss told Cinemablend.
It wasn’t just size and detail Chambliss was going for, but a certain character identity that may have not been obvious in previous versions of the insectile beast that flew into the original Toho movies. You may not normally think of things like femininity or power when it comes to bugs — especially when they’re not even humanoid — but this is Mothra we’re talking about here.
“In developing Mothra, our intention was to give her an essentially feminine power in contrast to the hypermasculinity of the other three creatures, and to imbue her with undeniable strength and grace plus an ability to be incredibly frightening at the same time,” he said.
If moths don't intimidate you, just try looking a ridiculously magnified one in the face.
Mothra didn’t just emerge from her chrysalis right away. Chambliss and his team went through endless designs that evolved into his vision of the kaiju that flies at supersonic speeds and that fires laser beams from her antennae. He went for a broader wingspan and praying mantis-esque legs to make her more intimidating despite her deceptive outer beauty. The designer admitted there were a few awkward metamorphic phases in the process of her as fearsome as she is graceful.
“One of the more memorable moments was when we hit a phase of ‘armorized’ Mothra,” he said. “For a moment in time her cocoon looked like a military tank.”
By the way, about those eye spots on her wings, they weren’t just ripped from nature, but purposely designed as a reflection of Godzilla’s terrifying orbs. Creepy.