Godzilla: King of the Monsters introduces even more kaiju to Warner Bros. and Legendary’s MonsterVerse. The new Godzilla 2 trailer, which debuted at San Diego Comic-Con, offers the first good look at these newcomers, but in the case of Mothra, the trailer also confirms that she will appear in both her larva and winged forms.
Mothra is different from the other kaiju - or Titans, as they’ll be referred to in the Godzilla sequel - because she more than any other acts as a protector of humanity rather than a destroyer. In the original Mothra films (dating back to 1961), she protects the people of Infant Island and only attacks when her people - and in particular, the tiny priestesses who act as her intermediaries - are kidnapped or harmed. More often than not, Mothra will fight on the side of humanity against Godzilla or Ghidorah sometimes even sacrificing herself in the effort.
In addition to being a more benevolent monster, Mothra also differs in that she has the ability to transform from one form to another. Similar to an actual moth, Mothra begins her life in a larva or pupa stage, crawling along the ground. When she’s injured or simply needs to become more powerful, Mothra enters into chrysalis, cocooning herself for a period of time before emerging as the giant, winged moth. And in the trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, we see Mothra in both forms, confirming this transformation will happen in the film.
There are two shots of Mothra in the trailer, one for each of her forms. The first shot (at roughly 1:09, above) sees Millie Bobby Brown’s Madison reaching out and touching Mothra’s larva form on the head, presumably shortly after the creature has hatched from its egg. The scene suggests a moment of communing between Madison and Mothra, playing on the idea that Mothra will be empathetic to humanity’s plight. The second shot (at roughly 1:23, top), has Mothra emerging from behind a waterfall, possibly from her cocoon as well, and unfurling her large, luminous wings. According to Monarch Science's website, the film's viral marketing, Mothra emits beta-wave bioluminescence from her wings that can be weaponized as destructive "god rays", making her as deadly as she is beautiful. This can be seen briefly in the trailer (two shots from 2:11, below).
Confirming that Godzilla: King of the Monsters will include Mothra’s chrysalis transformation may at first seem obvious, but Mothra hasn’t always transformed in previous films. For instance, in 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra team up against Ghidorah (a plot point which King of the Monsters is likely to repeat) and they only manage to defeat him when Mothra, still in her larva form, encases Ghidorah in a silk cocoon. Other films only include Mothra's winged form, skipping over the need for her to cocoon and transform.
As for how and when Mothra's transformation comes about in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, we'll have to wait and see. But knowing chrysalis will happen, and assuming that Madison and Mothra form a kind of bond after their first meeting, it's possible the transformation comes after Mothra is injured while protecting Madison. However it happens, the fact that Mothra will be shown within a cocoon means she'll be sidelined for at least a portion of the film. This, too, has precedence in earlier Mothra films, but it leaves it open for a dramatic return later in the story, with Mothra emerging as her powerful final form at an opportune moment, coming to Madison - and perhaps all of planet Earth's - rescue.
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) release date: May 31, 2019
- Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) release date: May 22, 2020