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[Spoilers: This story spoils the post-credit scene from Kong: Skull Island. Do not read any further if you want to remain unaware of what lies ahead.]
The end of Kong: Skull Island makes it clear that the movie is part of Legendary Studio’s larger Monsterverse, with the appearance of Project Monarch — the organization set up in 2014’s Godzilla to keep track of monsters — and a brief glimpse of the monstrous threats that lie ahead in future movies. But who were those other creatures? For those not versed in Godzilla and kaiju lore, here’s a quick primer of the four beasties briefly glimpsed in cave paintings.
This guy, you know — or, at least, you do if you saw 2014’s Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards, the first movie in Legendary’s Monsterverse franchise. He’ll also appear in 2019’s Godzilla: King of Monsters. A force of nature, he’s a monster that humanity has tried to kill. He also saves humanity (but destroys San Francisco) by fighting a couple of other monsters. By the end of his 2014 movie, he’s being described as “King of the Monsters?” (question mark included), but some other characters might want to challenge that title…
Also known as Ghidrah for complicated reasons that essentially break down into “translating fictional names can be difficult,” Ghidorah first appeared in 1964’s Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster as an alien threat that had already wiped out the population of Venus millennia earlier. Design-wise, he’s a mix of the Greek hydra — hence the multiple heads — and a classic dragon. Classically, he likes to mix it up with Godzilla, although the two like to switch sides to keep things interesting. He’s both been a threat to life on Earth and the only thing standing between humanity and certain destruction at the claws of Godzilla, depending on the movie, so it’s no surprise that he’s seen fighting Godzilla in the cave painting at the end of Kong.
Just as Godzilla is, essentially, a repurposed T-Rex, so Rodan — who debuted in 1956’s Rodan — is, for all intents and purposes, a super-charged pteranodon. Indeed, his original Japanese name (Radon, changed for U.S. audiences to avoid confusion with the element of the same name) was simply a contraction of the dinosaur name. Although it started life as a threat to humanity, he gradually became more heroic as it was folded into the larger Godzilla franchise. (For a period, it also was seen as more of a comic relief character than the other monsters.)
If other monsters in the Godzilla movie series seem to switch sides as the plot demands, Mothra is more consistent, and more consistently good, than the majority of her brethren. Despite the name, she is less a moth than a super-powered butterfly — she’s even been seen in caterpillar form, to underscore the fact. But her seemingly inherent goodness isn’t the only thing that separates her from the other monsters in the series: A rare female monster, she’s often accompanied by humanoid companions, referred to as fairies, who help explain her intent to those around her, often in the form of song. (We can but hope that last fact continues into her Monsterverse incarnation.) After her debut in 1961’s Mothra, she would go on to star in 12 more movies before her cameo at the end of Kong: Skull Island. While she might not have the name recognition nor longevity of King Kong, she’s arguably a bigger movie star in terms of appearances.
Kong: Skull Island is in theaters now.
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