WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, in theaters now.
Legendary's MonsterVerse has kicked into high gear with Godzilla and Ghidorah throwing down to see who's the alpha of all the Titans. With Rodan, Mothra and other kaiju entering the fray as well, Godzilla: King of the Monsters steps up what 2014's Godzilla and 2017's Kong: Skull Island did by cramming in a bunch of heavyweights to fight for the crown.
But, as these beasts duke it out, the narrative director Michael Dougherty lays down actually feels similar to Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
GODZILLA, THE SUPER-TITAN
In Batman v Superman, Superman was seen as a god who was loved by the people but feared by global governments after the damage he caused in Man of Steel. The powers-that-be wondered what would happen if he turned on humanity, which was justified, as they had no assurance he wouldn't become a tyrant like Zod.
Here, Godzilla is in the same position. After he wrecked San Francisco in Gareth Edwards' movie five years ago, the governments are skeptical of him, with even Monarch worried about the Titan possibly deciding to feast on mankind someday. Everyone decides to monitor the beast, and while a vast portion of the populace loves Godzilla, measures are in place to eliminate him in the form of the Oxygen Destroyer. (A callback to the device used to slay the kaiju in the original 1954 movie.)
This weapon nearly kills the beast and the scene where he's bombed with it in Mexican waters is very similar to when Superman was nuked fighting Doomsday, and then had to go recharge in the warmth of the sun. In Godzilla's case, he replenishes his energy in an underwater lair similar to Atlantis using radiation from the core of the Earth instead of sunlight. At this point, it's clear the world powers see both godlike entities as expendable if it means preventing an impending apocalypse.
MARK RUSSELL, THE RELUCTANT KNIGHT
Played by Kyle Chandler, former Monarch scientist, Mark Russell, has a similar arc to Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne. Bruce lost his employees in the fight between Superman and Zod in Metropolis, and this caused him to hate Superman and want him dead at all costs.
Russell loses his son in similar fashion in the collateral damage from the San Francisco finale in the first film, and while he isn't as driven by revenge, he does come off obsessed by constantly urging Monarch to kill Godzilla and the other Titans in storage. His vendetta is just as understandable as these "gods," who cause chaos wherever they go, leading to the death of thousands of innocents.
What brings this comparison full-circle is that, just like Batfleck, Russell makes a U-turn when he realizes Godzilla really is the key to salvation. While he doesn't have a "Martha!" moment, Russell comes to this realization when the Oxygen Bomb takes Godzilla temporarily off the board, leaving Ghidorah and his lackeys to destroy several continents. He finally understands he's been driven by hate and loss, failing to see the force for good Godzilla could be. Russell comes to his senses and leads the charge to help the Titan, just like Batman did as he made amends with Superman.
MOTHRA, THE WINGED WONDER WOMAN
Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman really was the ace-in-the-hole who helped Superman and Batman save the day and take out Doomsday. In battle, she was the equalizer the World's Finest needed against the Kryptonian weapon and without her, the heroes would not have been able to kill the behemoth.
King of the Monsters has a similar female presence in Mothra, the "Queen of the Monsters." Just like how we were teased with Wonder Woman, Dougherty builds towards a grand entrance and when she touches down, she absolutely stuns. Mothra ends up being the savior as she shields Godzilla from Ghidorah's electrical death-blast -- similar to Wonder Woman using her shield to stop Doomsday's heat vision from incinerating Superman and the Dark Knight.
However, in this case, Mothra sacrifices herself and uses her essence to power-up Godzilla to finish the job. While Wonder Woman didn't do that for Kal-El, we can see parallels with how both female characters literally brought much-needed firepower to help their male counterparts, saving their lives in the process.
GHIDORAH, THE DOOMSDAY DRAGON
Batman v Superman's Doomsday was a scientific experiment born from Lex Luthor manipulating Kryptonian DNA and his own. Nonetheless, it's an alien being, just like Ghidorah, and one hellbent on razing the world as the true apex predator. Doomsday's drive to be the alpha saw him push DC's superhero trinity to their limits, and while he did die, he killed Superman in the process.
Ghidorah, likewise, is embarking on a global genocide. Just like Doomsday, he's near-unstoppable. He even takes a hero off the table by killing Mothra, leaving Godzilla desperate to stop his Boston rampage in what turns out to be just as explosive and devastating a finale as when Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman tussled with Doomsday.
Doomsday and Ghidorah are very much cut from the same cloth: Destroyers who believe in conquering and ruling. If unchecked, civilization as we know it would have come to an abrupt halt with no other heroes/Titans available or able to save the planet from extinction.
THE OVERALL BATTLE ROYALE
Narrative-wise, the way Legendary decides to chuck all four monsters together in this film rather than build to them brawling over a series of films is also very Snyder-esque. Snyder didn't want to wait until solo films were fleshed out for Wonder Woman or Batman, he was all about everyone joining up so he could fast-track the Justice League movie.
KOTM feels very similar. Rather than having Godzilla take on Rodan, find Mothra and then realize Ghidorah (who's released by mankind just like Doomsday was) is out there over the course of a couple of movies, the MonsterVerse simply wants them all to meet up in one monster mash-up to push the train towards Godzilla vs. Kong next year.
Everything comes at the audience hard and fast, with little time for backstory, and similar to BVS, this sequel is filled with epic Michael Bay-esque action sequences and end-the-of-world destruction, which is admittedly more forgivable than Snyder's oeuvre. After all, this movie is all about witnessing Titans in unforgettable battles destroying cities, and not some philosophical debate or moral code about how vigilantes ought to met out criminal justice.
Directed by Michael Dougherty, Godzilla: King of the Monsters stars Vera Farmiga, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Thomas Middleditch, Charles Dance, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aisha Hinds and Zhang Ziyi.