Twenty-two movies in a mind-numbing “Godzilla” movie marathon, director Adam Wingard thought he couldn’t take it anymore.
“He was half in a coma,” Wingard told The Post. “But then this scene came and I was flooded with emotion.”
The movie was “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” from 1995, and the scene was one where Godzilla Junior is killed in a battle and Godzilla Senior bows his head in mourning.
“I noticed that every time these movies made me feel like these monsters had personalities and feelings, that’s when I was most excited,” said the director. “That was a huge turning point for me.”
With the latest entry in the MonsterVerse series, “Godzilla vs. Kong,” in theaters and HBO Max on Wednesday, Wingard was determined to treat the two titular creatures not as hulking, insensitive beasts, but as “fully grown” characters.
At least as much as was allowed.
Godzilla was a bigger challenge than Kong, because Toho, the Japanese company that owns the kaiju (strange beast), has strict rules about what can and cannot be done with it.
“There’s literally a guy in Toho, I think his actual title is Director of Godzilla, whose job is to keep up with what Godzilla should be doing,” Wingard said. “Godzilla is a divine presence, you can’t show him eating things and you can’t show him a gesture.”
In this 2019 sequel to “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”, two scientists (Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgård) attempt to return Kong to his home in a hidden world in the center of the Earth, but the giant ape is attacked by his enemy of centuries. , Godzilla.
The filmmakers tried to make the giant lizard more distinctive by infusing it with “arrogance.”
“He doesn’t care about anyone because he knows he’s the alpha dog,” said the director. “It comes from the way you walk and the way you drive.”
In the film’s first battle between Godzilla and Kong, for example, Godzilla is hit from the back by missiles. In an earlier version, the missiles distract Godzilla, allowing Kong to briefly gain the upper hand. But in the final impression of the film, Godzilla simply slides his tail, destroying the jets that are shooting at him.
Kong was easier to convey emotions, which are mostly communicated through his eyes.
Wingard was inspired to make Kong sympathetic after watching 1976’s “King Kong” with his girlfriend. The end made her cry.
“There is something about the innocence and purity of King Kong that pierces people’s hearts,” Wingard said.
Much of the digital work on Kong was done by Weta, the same effects company co-founded by director Peter Jackson that worked on his 2005 film “King Kong” and the recent “Planet of the Apes” films.
“They had this library of how to deal with the emotions of primates,” Wingard said.
The Kong here is childish with an expressive face that conveys sadness, anger and, at one point, a slight smile.
In the end, Wingard knew that when the film was released, many viewers wouldn’t care how great the two giants’ city-destroying battles looked if they weren’t engaged with the combatants.
“This could be the once in a generation that we get a chance to see these guys pair up,” Wingard said. “And if this is the last you see in another 50 years, this is our only chance to get it right.”
‘Godzilla vs. Kong ‘: why the killer lizard is the king of monsters
Adam Wingard, director of “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which opens March 31 in theaters and on HBO Max, told The Post that he used to do what many young children did: daydream about who would win in a battle between fictional characters.
So who would reign supreme? There are no spoilers here, but take a look at a five-kaiju power rating (Japanese for “strange beast”) based on previous movies.
Height: 393 feet
Powers: Atomic breath, using its tail like a club.
It has survived human attacks, battles with giant monsters, and a terrible reboot by Roland Emmerich in 1998. At this point, it’s safe to say that Godzilla is nearly impossible to kill and dominates among the kaiju.
Height: 300+ feet
Weapon: An ax made from Godzilla’s dorsal fin.
They don’t call him King for nothing. The giant gorilla is a fierce fighter, and in his previous battle with his nemesis in 1963’s “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” Kong seemingly surpassed Godzilla after knocking him off a cliff and throwing him into the sea.
Size: a wingspan of 803 feet
Powers: Eating very, very large sweaters; can also fly and spit silk at enemies
For a moth, she packs a punch. In “Mothra vs. Godzilla ”from 1964, Godzilla killed the giant insect, but its larvae eventually caught and defeated the monster.
Height: 300+ feet
Powers: Atomic breath and a missile battery.
Historically, the giant robotic dinosaur has not fared particularly well against its flesh-and-blood counterpart. In their first battle in 1977, Godzilla and his ally, the canine king Caesar, ripped off Mechagodzilla’s head. Oh!
Height: 521 feet
Powers: A serious pair of wings that allow you to fly almost fast enough to break the sound barrier.
The three-headed dragon has lost nearly every turn to Godzilla, including the brutal cremation in 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”