Long before Godzilla vs. Kong stomped onto the scene two weeks ago, fans were certain that the film's titular opponents would eventually team up against a third, secret kaiju.
**Spoilers ahead for Godzilla vs. Kong's big finale!**
It was pretty much an open secret that turned out to be 100 percent correct when, in the movie's third act, Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir) unveils Mechagodzilla — an artificial weapon intended to rid the world of Titans and restore mankind's supremacy on planet Earth.
Things don't go as planned and the mecha gains sentience, nearly killing Godzilla before Kong intervenes. While Mechagodzilla only has about 10 minutes of screen-time, the manmade monster effectively steals the show with an arsenal of deadly weapons and a chilling design inspired by the skeleton-like T-800 robots made famous by James Cameron's Terminator films.
"When talking about Mechagodzilla and the inspiration for him, John Rosengrant (one of the heads of Legacy Effects) had said, 'This thing has got to be a Terminator.' He was purely speaking in a metaphorical sense to inspire us," creature designer and concept artist Jared Krichevsky tells SYFY WIRE. "But I instantly knew what he meant — that the design of Mechagodzilla had to be something similar to Godzilla himself, and that would terrify him. Godzilla is a very intelligent animal and hunter; seeing something skeletal, [akin to] yourself, it has a very unnerving effect. Godzilla had to know that he was about to face something newer and much stronger."
Fortunately, Legacy Effects, which has a professional history of working on the Terminator series, proudly displays a T-800 model in the lobby of its California offices.
"I stood there for a good few minutes and began to breathe in its essence so-to-speak," Krichevsky explains. "There were some design inspirations that I took as well: the narrow breastplate with the wide range of movement for the arms and shoulders. This would allow greater range of motion, and since I gave him an extra long reach, it means he could take really strong shots at Godzilla from a distance and take advantage of Godzilla's weaknesses."
The mecha's four-clawed hands were inspired by a real-world medical condition known as mirror-hand syndrome, "which is where the hand looks like it's been mirrored on two sides," Krichevsky says. "It's not harmful or bad, just unique. So I thought about that and I thought you could really grip something from both sides. He could grab arms or Kong's head — stuff like that. The other inspiration I drew on were the drill hands from Kiryu [a classic nickname for Mechagodzilla]. Something that could always be spinning around and it wouldn't matter what position the arms were in. I thought it gave him a really interesting tactical advantage. I didn't know about the plasma energy punches that were going to be in there, but I thought that was an awesome addition."
At the end of the day, the designer was happy to put his own mark on a Toho cinematic icon. "There's a strong tradition of unique hands in Mechagodzilla designs, from missile fingers, to drill hands, and now grab claws," he concludes. "So, it's very exciting to get to add to that part of the legacy."
Godzilla vs. Kong is currently playing in theaters and on HBO Max. It will leave the WarnerMedia streaming service at the end of the month. Over the weekend, the movie became the highest-grossing release of the pandemic era with over $357 million worldwide.