In a way, director Michael Dougherty had been in preproduction on Godzilla: King of the Monsters since childhood.
Dougherty grew up a massive fan of Toho's Godzilla franchise and other monster movies, having first gotten hooked on imported kaiju flicks when they served as Saturday matinees on local TV stations. And when he became the first American director to get a crack at playing with an extended roster of Toho's classic monsters, his years of "research" paid off, not only in his understanding of the cadence of these movies, but in creating new versions of the monsters (and their human counterparts) that stayed faithful to the spirit of the originals.
It also didn't hurt that he could sprinkle in deep-cut references to dozens of old Godzilla movies, to nods of recognition and screams of excitement from longtime fans.
**SPOILER WARNING: This story and the podcast below contain some Godzilla: King of the Monster spoilers**
"Writing is so much like painting a mural, because there are so many different little layers and subtleties that you try to lace in there," Dougherty says in a new episode of The Fandom Files. "Some came very quickly and easily, like the idea that Ghidorah's code name would be Monster Zero first, that they didn't identify it, so that they had a generic ID for it, and that only later did they finally discover the creature's name. It was a no-brainer, as was bringing in the Oxygen Destroyer."
Other references, he says, were inserted late in post-production, as he reviewed different cuts of the movie and found spots where he could pepper in yet more of them. Dougherty speaks about a number of other easter eggs, references, and putting together the story during his conversation with The Fandom Files, below.