While Godzilla vs. Kong is an American film from Warner Bros., the Godzilla character appears under license from his original Japanese studio, Toho. As such, they do hold a certain amount of creative control about how their creation appears. You can’t cast Godzilla in a movie where he curls up in the fetal position and cries while lamenting how old he‘s getting. Godzilla has an image to maintain. (Sadly; I kind of want to see middle-aged and depressed Godzilla. He would be a very relatable character, in my opinion.)

In fact, Godzilla vs. Kong director Adam Wingard revealed that Toho even has one or two rules about what Godzilla can or can’t do onscreen. He shared one of them in an interview with CinemaBlend:

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.

Wingard also said he snuck in a scene where, at least in his eyes, Godzilla is “smiling or laughing.” But I’ve seen Godzilla vs. Kong, and I have to be honest: I have no idea what moment he’s referring to. Godzilla’s generally depicted very much as a “force of nature” dinosaur. It’s Kong who seems much more anthropomorphized and filled with recognizable emotions in the movie. He wants to return to his home, he’s lonely, he forms a connection with a little girl. Godzilla mostly swims around, breathes fire, and destroys large municipalities. But maybe that’s how he gets his jollies?

Godzilla vs. Kong is now available on HBO Max and playing in theaters.

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