When director Adam Wingard was given the keys to Godzilla vs. Kong, he wasn’t just dealing with the folks at Legendary Pictures – he also had to interact with the team at Toho Studios, which owns the rights to the Godzilla character. And according to the director, Toho had a very specific restriction in place for what Godzilla could and could not do. But Wingard, that crafty devil, managed to convince them to break their own rule.
Speaking with CinemaBlend‘s Reelblend podcast, Wingard revealed that Toho was averse to the idea of Godzilla emoting. Here’s how he explained one of the restrictions they had, and how he managed to get around that:
“One of them, for instance, is [that] they don’t want Godzilla to emote. They see him as like this god-like force of nature, and so to them, it’s out of character if you have him reacting in a normal way to things. But, there’s always ways around it. We definitely have some moments where I think Godzilla is more emotive in this film than he has been in any of the MonsterVerse movies. We just had to get clever with it. And I think that sometimes that stuff is kind of presented to you in a very kind of brick-wall kind of way. But if you just do certain things, and present it to them just right, and if they’re on board with the movie, they seem to give us plenty of leeway.”
There are several moments in Godzilla vs. Kong in which you can see flashes of emotion cross Godzilla’s face, and while most of them are admittedly variations on anger, there are actually a couple which give the character a little more pathos and allow you access to what’s going on behind his eyes. You can pinpoint confusion, surprise, and maybe even pity during one key scene.
Perhaps it was Toho’s restriction that gave the monsters’ emotionality extra resonance for Wingard, because he told us that being able to bring out the emotions in Godzilla and Kong was the aspect of the film that he is the most proud of. “Anybody can make a big CGI thing look cool, but to really bring it to life in a way?” he said. “That’s the thing I’m most proud of. That’s the thing that makes me emotional when I watch the film.”
Godzilla vs. Kong is in theaters and streaming now on HBO Max.
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