On May 31, Godzilla will stomp back into theaters with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, from Krampus director Michael Dougherty. A sequel to 2014’s Godzilla, this latest entry in the long-lived franchise reunites ‘zilla with the kaiju Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. The Japanese Godzilla movies have a lot of good stuff (and the dreaded Minilla) to pull from, and it’s laudable that Warner Bros. would look beyond “Godzilla smash” to use some of it.
Quick question, though: Is this version of Mothra going to be THAT BITCH?
Because Mothra is THAT BITCH.
If Godzilla is the “King of the Monsters,” Mothra is the Queen—not in the sense that she and ‘zills have something going on (though I’m sure there’s fanfic), but in the sense that she’s generally portrayed as a heroic kaiju who steps in to save the day when other monsters start getting a little too stomp-happy.
As her name implies, she’s a giant moth. That implies A) a certain level of drama, and B) being underestimated. A giant moth? Really? Can a moth kick your ass?
Both of the above-named traits are characteristics of being the Queen Bitch of the Godzilla franchise. So is the ability to generate a glitter cyclone.
The above gif is from Rebirth of Mothra II, one of a trilogy of films that came out in the ‘90s to rebrand the character for a young audience. The movies are impossibly cheesy and all but unwatchable… until the point where Mothra shows up and defeats whatever monster needs defeating with:
- Rainbow lightning
- Glitter cyclones
- Turning into a cloud of normal-sized moths, flying through her enemy’s digestive tract, and shooting things
- Rainbow silly string
For that latter bit of weaponry, I’ll have to explain a bit about Mothra mythology. As with Godzilla and the rest, there’s generally only one Mothra at a time. But it’s not the same Mothra. Our flying kaiju diva regularly goes through the process of laying an egg, dying, and hatching from the egg as a larva that proceeds to raise holy hell on whichever unlucky SOB killed its mom. Mothra, then, is almost less an individual name than a title, that title translating roughly to “Stay the f*** away from me at all times.”
In Mothra vs. Godzilla, two Mothra larvae cocoon Godzilla in silk spray and force him into the ocean. So two baby Mothras not only defeated Godzilla, but did so in such a way as to utilized the phallocentric imagery of the patriarchy against him. (Y'all know what that silk spray looks like; don't make me spell it out.)
(And if you’re wondering who the father of all these young Mothras are—we don’t know, and she ain’t telling. Old school moth January Jones-Mindy Kaling-Adele action. Queen.)
In the first Rebirth of Mothra, after her mother is killed, the larva Mothra storms into battle to defeat the three-headed Desghidorah. One of her weapons: the aforementioned silk string, rainbow this time because '90s. The larva is like five minutes old at this point. Picture a baby storming into a rave, pounding back an Appletini and just going ham on everyone with that silly string. That’s Mothra.
Mothra only gets more badass as she matures into adulthood. She spends her time chilling on Infant Island, watching her shows and drinking white wine. (They cut this from the movies, but maybe there’s hope for King of the Monsters.) At her beck and call are the Twin Fairies, tiny women who serve as Mothra’s high priestesses and her liaisons to the outside world. Monster needs an ass-kicking? The Twin Fairies summon Mothra via musical number.
Yeah, they could just text her. But tell me this: Would Mariah Carey get out of bed for a text? Absolutely not. Musical number it is. (In 1961’s Mothra, which marked her first film appearance, Mothra unleashes holy hell on Tokyo because some dudes kidnapped her Twin Fairies. After she got them back, she flies back to Infant Island happy and carefree. She doesn’t want to beat men up, but she wants them to know she can if they mess with her tiny BFFs/people who make her Olympic swimming pool-sized margaritas.)
Mothra’s a psychic, so she knows when you’re talking about her. Through flapping her wings, she creates gusts of winds that can blow f***boy kaiju like Rodan about 1,000 feet away from her person, where they belong. Her eyeshadow is on point, and she knows about color blocking. You think King Ghidorah knows even the most basic thing about skincare maintenance? Hell no. And the guy has three heads! Men.
From her King of the Monsters character poster, we get a hint that Dougherty is honoring the tradition of making Mothra look the best of all the kaiju, bar none. Godzilla, you’re OK I guess. But could he pull off Lisa Frank realness like Mothra does in the Rebirth movies? Actually… he probably could. I would like to see it. But one thing that Godzilla doesn’t do is change into a whole new outfit for underwater kickassery, like Mothra does when she needs to charge underwater to defeat the sea demon Dagahra in Rebirth of Mothra II. This is Mothra unveiling her beach body:
Only she knows that a beach body is whatever body you happen to have at the beach, because she is a strong, progressive, giant moth monster.