Monsters. They're all a bit serious nowadays, and nowhere is that more glaringly obvious than in Legendary Pictures' Americanized monster cinematic universe (the other MCU). So far we've had Godzilla and King Kong show up, and the only vague bit of levity so far has been a mugging John C. Reilly and an apparent Oldboy homage involving the giant ape and a supposedly yummy octopus. And with further films on the way shortly that will pit the pair against various other monsters (including each other), you'd be forgiven for wondering how close Legendary are going to steer their ship to the craziness of the Toho films they're recreating.
In other words, are they going to let their monster mash films actually be silly? The answer, of course, should be yes, and in Mike Dougherty and Adam Wingard they have two fairly savvy directors, but what kind of mad ingredients should they add to this titanic soup? It's not as if Toho have a shortage, but just what could Legendary add? Let's find out.
We're constantly told we're not alone in the universe. You know it, I know it, and Toho knew it, bringing in various alien lifeforms from a number of worlds to try and take over Earth, including the Big G's number one antagonist, King Ghidorah himself. In his original Showa era guise Ghidorah was an extra-terrestrial menace who came to Earth from Venus after laying waste to that planet and its civilization, and to be honest there are few things cooler than a freaking Venusian three-headed dragon arriving here to teach us a lesson in intergalactic affairs.
Initially, Ghidorah arrived here in a meteorite (a later era had him sent back in time by terrans of the 23rd century), but according to videos that were posted on Twitter on behalf of Monarch (the fake company that's been showing up in the OMCU so far) they found him under the ice in Antarctica. Kind of boring, but there's plenty of opportunities to beef up his alien origins, maybe in a crazy flashback sequence. Or maybe they'll take an opportunity later on to remake Destroy All Monsters, where a bunch of aliens take control of all the kaiju and have them attack cities around the globe. How amazing would that be?
As all G-fans know, the main force responsible for the defense against kaiju is the JSDF (Japanese Self-Defense Force), so I guess in the OMCU it would be the United States military. Of course, we're used to seeing dozens of jet fighters and tanks and helicopters and such go up against Godzilla and get smashed to pieces, but the JDSF are also responsible for some pretty nifty hardware. The most recognizable of this is the Super-X series, first seen in 1984's The Return of Godzilla (variations appeared in Godzilla vs Biollante and Godzilla vs Destoroyah).
Remember how in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the USS Defiant was developed solely to fight the Borg? Same thing with the Super-X, which was equipped with all sorts of guns and missiles designed to take down the Big G. Now tell me, with the crack Hollywood designers and infinite budgets, that you wouldn't like to see a new Super-X in the OMCU? The only question is whether Legendary would use it to end Godzilla, or would it just end up being smashed up like everything else, emblematic of the hubris of man that is being put down by the Big G and his ilk.
Giant Robots and Mecha
A staple of Japanese entertainment since forever, robots and mecha are something we've already seen in Legendary's other giant monster franchise Pacific Rim (not to mention the 1990 Stuart Gordon classic Robot Jox), and while that was vaguely underwhelming, it gives us an idea of the potential in building a giant beast of a machine to defend against raiding monsters — and in true Godzilla fashion, at least a bit of the running time should be devoted to the economic realities of such a project.
Of course, where Godzilla is concerned you can't have the word "mecha" used without it being included in "Mechagodzilla", the other-other big antagonist of our favorite irradiated dinosaur. Mechagodzilla was another tool of invading aliens and originally looked just like Godzilla, dorsal plates and all. You wonder if this was where James Cameron got the idea for the Terminator, as the skin was eventually ripped away to reveal the shiny real form of Mechagodzilla. Like everything else Toho Mechagodzilla went through different forms throughout the eras, from the Heisei, where he was a sleeker and more powerful form, to the Millennium where he had huge rocket launchers on his shoulders like War Machine as well as a super laser weapon. This should be a foregone conclusion for Legendary — it'll make Pacific Rim look like Power Rangers vs Voltron.
Monsterland sounds like the greatest theme park ever, but alas is just the island where all the kaiju are kept. I say "just" like it's some normal thing that you can roll off while watching TV, but this is amazing, an entire island (or peninsula if you watch The Simpsons) full of monsters, like a Jurassic Park that actually works. It's just a crazy idea. "Hey Phil, what are we going to do with all these kaiju?" "Just stick 'em on an island. That'll show them." Thankfully, it has various devices to stop the monsters leaving, like, um, mist.
There's also Monster Island as well, which is apparently a different island with lots of monsters on it. Site B? In any case, just the idea of a special island home for kaiju is nutty, and deserves to find itself way into the OMCU. Assuming there is a focal point these movies are building up to, maybe we'll get an Avengers-style assembling of Godzilla and pals? Actually, I'll just have that one please.
Minilla and the Twins
In 1967, Toho shocked the world by introducing the charming Minilla to us all in the aptly named Son of Godzilla, where he was taught the ways of the kaiju by the Big G so they could team up at the end to defeat giant spider Kumonga. Who is different to the other baby, Godzilla Junior, who popped up in the Heisei era, and yes, is not anywhere close to Godzooky from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon. The other thing that this can bring that people can freak out at is humor — the idea of Godzilla having a baby is pretty funny, but that's not a bad thing, and it can also be endearing, especially if it's used in a symbolic way like in the excellent Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
And then there's the Mothra twins, or Shobijin as they're better known, two fairies from Infant Island who sing the song of Mothra for her to rise up and save the Earth from whoever is threatening it. This is probably the craziest thing in the whole Godzilla franchise, but you know what? It's wonderful. Not only their interactions with actual humans (as they are literal fairy size) but just the concept, the kind of thing that made the Showa era films so fun.
And it's this kind of thing that would be so great in the Legendary films, that probably won't make it in. I mean culturally it's the kind of thing that would make many audiences uncomfortable, especially the males who are already overprotective of their masculinity, just seeing two fairies sing a beautiful song to call Mothra to arms. And that's maybe why we need these kind of things, and to be honest, just think of the musical possibilities! Get Lin-Manuel Miranda to come up with a new arrangement of the classic song or even a new one (heresy I know) and it could be a number one hit. A special Mothra-shaped vinyl record for Record Store Day — this is the kind of thing Hollywood loves, synergy.
Of course, the big questions is will any of this stuff make it into Legendary's OMCU? It's pretty likely some of it will; things like the Super-X would tie into the kind of fetishizing of military hardware that Michael Bay has made a career out of. Aliens may also be a safe bet, again it's not too far a stretch when it's been twenty or so years since Independence Day, but the twins? Baby Godzilla? All we can hope is that Dougherty, Wingard, and Legendary will have an open mind when it comes to this kind of thing, or at least that Toho have a Minilla appearance clause in their contract.
Or they could at least let me direct one of them.