Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the third installment in Legendary’s MonsterVerse franchise, is a bona fide monster mash. Unlike Rob Hunter, I loved Dougherty’s vision for Godzilla and his monster compatriots. The beasts feel truly mythic and watching them on the big screen made me feel like an insignificant ant. Job well done, I say.
Now, usually when my colleague Christopher Campbell handles these columns, he provides a nice mix of key cinematic influences and unexpected offerings that connect to the film of the week in some way. However, King of the Monsters contains so many references to other movies that I decided to use this as an opportunity to highlight some of them. By watching these features, your appreciation of the latest Godzilla film will be enriched. Of course, I couldn’t resist throwing in a couple of fresh picks for good measure, but they’re all movies that can hang out with King of the Monsters. Let’s get started.
Jurassic Park (1993)
If there’s one message to be taken away from King of the Monsters, it’s that us humans are fucking up the planet. Mother Nature shouldn’t be messed with, or else she’ll find scary ways to restore the natural order of things. In this iteration of the Godzilla mythology, the Titans are ancient gods whose job it is to make sure the order is maintained.
When it comes to other creature features that deal with humankind versus nature, Jurassic Park is hard to beat. The film, which tells the story of genetically modified dinosaurs causing chaos in a theme park, is also concerned with the idea that humanity has overstepped its boundaries and we deserve a kick up the arse.
The similarities don’t end there, either. Like Jurassic Park, the main human heroes in King of the Monsters are scientists. In an age where scientists are often being questioned because of high profile climate change denying politicians, Dougherty wanted to present them in a positive light. On top of that, the film pays homage to Steven Spielberg’s classic in the scene where Ghidorah’s eyeball stares directly at Madison Russell (Millie Brown) through a window.
Rodan got a brief chance to shine in King of the Monsters, but some newcomers to the Godzilla lore might not be familiar with the flying monster’s history outside of Dougherty’s flick. If that’s the case, there’s no better introductory course than the creature’s one and only standalone film to date (which is an overlooked gem in the Toho pantheon).
Rodan not only gives the titular creature the majority of the focus, but it helps make sense of its origins, which are honored in King of the Monsters. In the latest MonsterVerse film, the beast makes its grand entrance by emerging from a volcano in Mexico. Meanwhile, in the 1956 movie, two Rodans are awoken near Japan’s Mount Aso.
Still, the main reason to check out Rodan is because it gives the iconic creature(s) a chance to steal the spotlight in a movie that doesn’t feature Godzilla.
Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991)
King Ghidorah is first referenced in King of the Monsters as Monster Zero, which is a direct nod to the name given to him by the Xiliens, an alien race, in Invasion of Astro-Monster. I highly recommend checking out that movie as well, but Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah could serve as a key inspiration for the next sequel.
Godzilla vs King Ghidorah is arguably the best movie to feature Godzilla and his alien nemesis locked in combat against each other. However, as we saw in the King of the Monsters post-credits sequence, Ghidorah’s decapitated head was obtained by a group of eco-terrorists. The group undoubtedly intends to use the body part to somehow bring Ghidorah back from the dead, whether as a clone, a new creature, or a mecha monster.
In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, a human character resurrects Ghidorah as a robotic version of himself to thwart Godzilla’s rampage. If servitude to humans is the creature’s fate going forward in the MonsterVerse, it will be a fun twist to the ideas introduced in the 1991 movie.
If you’d like to add another movie to your watchlist, also check out 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. The film’s line-up of kaiju is comprised of Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan, who make up the main roster of creatures in King of the Monsters.