While I wouldn't exactly call it a shock, it is a thrill to see Legendary come out strong and stake their claim on “Godzilla 2.” The real treat of them going back for a second film is going to be seeing how Toho lets them play with the other toys in the toy box.
One of the things that became clear as they showed their “secret” Monarch footage today is that they have big plans for the Godzilla series. Gareth Edwards has a very dry British wit, and that was on full display when he did his taped message for the audience from San Francisco where he's supposedly supervising the rebuilding of the city. He talked about how he needed to take a break from the pressure of working on high-profile properties that fanboys will have opinions about, a lovely nod to his impending “Star Wars” adventure, and then was interrupted by Godzilla, who was on Alcatraz island, unhappy to be caged in by the military.
The introduction of the three new monsters they plan to use in the sequel was pretty great, done through shadows and suggestion, and I'm totally down for a movie with Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah all showing up to rumble. I laughed out loud at the final title card that just read, “Let them fight.” I guarantee that whatever movie Gareth makes with these characters next time, it won't just be a repeat of the peekaboo strategy of the first film. I think Edwards is smarter than that, and there's no need to play coy with Godzilla himself.
What I'm most curious about is the other trailer they showed at the end of the Legendary panel, because it feels to me like this is another possible example of the Marvel influence at work. To their credit, Legendary kept this one completely under wraps until now, but I'm not sure I get the point of a stand-alone remake of “King Kong.” True, it doesn't look like they're doing a straight remake in the traditional sense, but they revealed the big ape in all his glory at the end of a long tracking push-in through the island, over the wall, past other creatures barely glimpsed. The reaction in the room was, to say the least, confused, and it's more because no one was expecting it than as a real reaction to the idea.
When I called home after the panel to talk to Toshi and Allen, my kids, I knew they'd lose their minds over the idea of which monsters Godzilla's going to get to fight this time. And they did. Or rather, Toshi did. He likes to be the go-between, the one on the phone, conveying the conversation to Allen. To some degree, I agree. Talking to a six year old on a cell phone he's holding is like trying to shave a pilot while he's taking off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. As I listed each one, Toshi would repeat it to his brother, and they'd both give me an “OH MY GOD” or “THAT'S AWESOME.” I live off their enthusiasm like I'm a vampire. It's the best thing, and the notion of seeing Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah totally works for them.
Then I told Toshi about the last trailer. I described some of the shots, but I didn't tell him about the reveal, and then I told him the title. “You know who lives on Skull Island, right?”
“King Kong,” he replied. “That's preohhhhmygodTHATMEANSHECOULDFIGHTGODZILLA!! DADDYARETHEYGOINGTOHAVEHIMFIGHTGODZILLA!!
And then he got excited about it.
At nine, he immediately got the inherent promise of bookending the Legendary panel with those two films. I'm not pretending I have access to some secret game plan. I'm just saying that when a nine-year-old kid's first thought is that it would be amazing to see the monsters from both ends of the Comic-Con panel come together in what every studio is chasing today, a “shared universe.”
When the Monarch “secret footage” played, the title cards were very direct. “There is one secret we were never told. There were others.” The implication is that the various governments of the world have conspired, even at the end of a world war, to keep a secret about giant monsters that exist in more than one place.
I had a sneaking suspicion they might announce a subtitle for “Godzilla 2” and that it would be very smart to call it “Monster Island.” Well, if they've got another island they can cue up as a possible destination for a third “Godzilla” movie, even better. It certainly looks like they've put themselves in the right position to have a clash of the icons for the first time since the preposterously silly 1962 film.
We'll see when they get moving on all of this, and how much appetite audiences have for giant monsters kicking the crap out of other giant monsters. I just know that in the coveted demographic of “kids who live in my house,” this entire plan is a smash hit already.