Godzilla x Kong Director Explains That Surprise Monster Cameo Ending

Exclusive: Director Adam Wingard is ready to chat about how that major fan-pleasing surprise in the third act of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire came about.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

This article contains massive Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire ending spoilers.

Adam Wingard grew up on the Shōwa era of Godzilla movies. That would be the period of time when Toho Studios produced monster movies during the reign of Emperor Hirohito—so all the kaiju flicks released between 1954 and 1975. This included ones where Godzilla was a scary emblem of nuclear radiation, sure, but more often than not, the Big G spent these decades as a glorified superhero who hung out with pals like Mothra or Anguirus on Monster Island.

“Those were the movies that were playing on daytime television when I was a kid,” Wingard says when he sits down with Den of Geek ahead of the film’s opening weekend. “So that’s where my inspiration from Godzilla really originates.” He even recalls a vivid childhood memory of watching Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) where the evil, robotic Zilla impersonates the good one while interacting with other monsters. “He’s going around and Anguirus comes up to him like, ‘Hey buddy, what’s going on? How are you?’ And Godzilla tries to rip his mouth open, and it’s really upsetting. He really injures Anguirus, who scampers off, and I remember feeling so bad for Anguirus. Like really sad, because I’m like, ‘Ahh! That’s his friend! He feels so betrayed.’”

This dynamic where the monsters have distinct personalities, dynamics, and even evolving friendships, is something that always stuck with Wingard. Which is why he is now bringing it to the U.S. in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, a movie that definitely features an encore of Godzilla and Kong doing their thing, but which also low-key recreates Monster Island for the 21st century via the Legendary MonsterVerse’s Hollow Earth. Because it’s down there that King Kong discovers not only a race of ancient giant apes like himself… but also another form of Mothra who winds up cooling tempers during the new movie’s epic Row by the Nile beatdown between Kong and Godzilla.

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“There’s a moment in the film where you’ve got Godzilla, Kong, and Mothra in front of the Sphinx,” Wingard marvels, “and sometimes when I just looked at it in post, I’d be like, ‘I can’t believe we’ve filled the frame with these three characters… There’s some shots that are like dream shots for a fan of especially Shōwa films where you can’t believe that in one frame you have all of this going on here.”

As the filmmaker admits, he’s only the second director to pit Godzilla and Kong against one another. But he is now also the only one who’s had Hollywood’s Eighth Wonder of the World share the screen with Mothra, the veritable Queen of the Monsters. “The MonsterVerse really is going in some wild and fun directions,” Wingard grins.

In terms of creating the scene in question, like Toho’s Shōwa movies of old, Wingard was cognizant of the need to emphasize a friendly relationship between Mothra and the other Titans. We saw it hinted at once before in Legendary’s American reimaginings of these characters via Godzilla: King of the Monsters. However, Godzilla x Kong’s entire plot hinges on the king and queen of monsterdom recalling a special connection.

“The main villain of this film is really a kind of devilish character,” Wingard says in reference to the ape called the Scar King. “Like an alternate title for the film could be ‘Kong Goes to Hell.’ So if Kong’s going to hell and he’s finding these apes toiling away down there under the devil who’s the Scar King, then Mothra’s really this very angelic spirit. And that’s the way I approached her as a character, very ethereal. She’s a pure vessel within the MonsterVerse and she’s like the great negotiator of the monsters.”

He continues, “Everybody respects Mothra. She’s the one monster that all the monsters I think will let do her thing, and it’s the only monster I think that Godzilla truly respects. He respects her opinion. So Mothra says, ‘Listen, we need your help,’ Godzilla’s gonna listen.”

We of course have already seen Mothra appear once before in these movies, with the celestial Titan being birthed and dying while saving Godzilla in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. That movie also leaves the door open for Mothra to return with another egg being discovered (as well as it being hinted that Zhang Ziyi has a supernatural connection to the creatures like the fairy priestesses in the Shōwa films). However, the Mothra we meet in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is full grown and has seemingly lived in the Hollow Earth for some time. So it’s worth asking… is Wingard’s Mothra supposed to be the first O.G. Mothra in the MonsterVerse?

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“Anything I say right now wouldn’t necessarily be canon,” Wingard carefully considers, “so I don’t want to necessarily tell people what she is. I have my own thoughts of what this version of Mothra is, but I think it’ll be exciting to kind of let that unfold because I’m sure we’ll explore more.”

We’re just hoping for Zhang or otherwise to offer a Paradise Island ballad to Mothra in the next one.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is in theaters now.