- This page covers the pair of monsters identified as "MUTOs" in Godzilla (2014), as well as the individual in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. For the parent superspecies, see MUTO Prime. For general use of the term "MUTO," see MUTO (designation).
This is our needle in the haystack, people. MUTO: Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism. It is, however, no longer terrestrial; it is airborne.
Prehistoric parasites that thrived at the same time as Godzilla's species, the MUTOs survived by attacking and killing members of Godzilla's species and laying their eggs in their radioactive carcasses. Two MUTO spores left in the carcass of a member of Godzilla's species known as Dagon survived for millions of years buried deep underground in the Philippines, only to be uncovered by a mining operation in 1999. A male MUTO emerged from its spore and began feeding on a nuclear reactor located in Janjira, while the female emerged from a nuclear waste storage facility in Nevada years later in 2014. The MUTOs met in San Francisco and began building a nest, but Godzilla arrived in the city to stop them from reproducing. After a long battle, Godzilla successfully killed both MUTOs, while the military destroyed the creatures' nest, successfully preventing the MUTOs from repopulating. As Godzilla's foes in the first entry of the MonsterVerse, the MUTOs were the first opponent faced by Godzilla in a film since Monster X ten years earlier. A second female dubbed the Queen MUTO made a brief appearance in the film's sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as part of the Titan army rampaging around the world.
Name[edit | edit source]
- Main article: MUTO (designation).
"MUTO" is an acronym for "Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism." According to Godzilla: Awakening, this is a designation Monarch gives to all giant monsters as a sort of placeholder name. In this comic, both Godzilla and Shinomura were known as MUTOs before being given their own individual names. In addition, in the film Kong: Skull Island, Monarch agent Bill Randa states that his organization's purpose is to hunt Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms.
In one of the original screenplays for Godzilla, the MUTOs were called "Hokmuto" and "Femuto," which were short for "Hokkaido MUTO" and "Female MUTO," respectively. The "M.U.T.O." acronym instead stood for "Massive Unidentified Target Organism.
The MUTOs are individually referred to in Japanese media as Muto (Male) (ムートー（オス） and Muto (Female) Mūtō Osu) (ムートー（メス）, Mūtō Mesu) while they are collectively referred to as simply Muto (ムートー, or alternatively MUTO (Male and Female) Mūtō) (ＭＵＴＯ（オス・メス） Mūtō Osu Mesu) in the 2016 Japanese publication Shin Godzilla Walker: The New Legend of the King of the Monsters.
The female MUTO that appears in Godzilla: King of the Monsters is never identified onscreen, but referred to internally as the Queen MUTO or Barb (or Titanus Barb). The film's official novelization describes her as a "six-legged, hunchbacked MUTO", although she possesses eight limbs in the film.
Development[edit | edit source]
The MUTOs are known to have been developed from the six-legged, Anguirus-like Rokmutul and the winged, dragon-like Pterodactyl—two early monsters from the development of Godzilla. In the 2012 Comic-Con teaser trailer for the film, a strange, dead monster was shown to confirm that Godzilla would be fighting another monster. When Legendary Pictures brought director Gareth Edwards and screenwriter Max Borenstein aboard the project, they came up with the MUTOs while contemplating the reason why another monster would be Godzilla's natural enemy.
The MUTOs went through several dozen concepts before Legendary settled on their final designs. Concept artist Matt Allsopp, working with Gareth Edwards, did the majority of the design work on the MUTOs. They examined other iconic movie monsters such as the Tyrannosaurus rex, the Xenomorphs, the Arachnids from Starship Troopers, Jaws, and King Kong to determine what aspects of their designs made them iconic, and some of those elements bled into the MUTOs. As was the case for Godzilla, many individual MUTO concepts leaned heavily on a certain type of animal. Edwards at first wanted a design akin to a crab, but this was discarded as Jim Rygiel explained that the MUTOs "had to be menacing enough to take on Godzilla, but sort of facile enough to move around the city. Yet still, be based on some sort of natural look. [...] We had to somewhat fit into nature because that's what Godzilla's battling in this film is nature, basically." The initial design had a face that was mostly featureless and nearly eyeless. Artists from the Moving Picture Company, the visual effects company responsible for much of the computer animation in Godzilla and the creation of the CGI models for the MUTOs, later added an articulated mouth and more definite eyes as the monsters' designs developed, the eyes were added for the purposes of small-scale animation close-ups. Some concepts had the male MUTO with four wings. At one point, the four wings were shaped like the X-wing starfighter from Star Wars. A design for the male with only six total appendages and four wings would be dropped as Allsopp felt the wings were "too much like a dragon." The final design of the male MUTO was also created by Matt Allsopp.
One of the original screenplays of Godzilla had the male MUTO emerge in Hokkaido, Japan, instead of the fictional city of Janjira. The female MUTO still appeared in Nevada, however. The male MUTO was initially wingless and would be defeated by Godzilla in Honolulu early on and presumed dead, though it turned out he formed a chrysalis and re-hatched later on with two pairs of wings. Edwards said of removing this element, "We just felt that there were too many iterations of its life cycles, so we dropped the idea." Additionally, the MUTOs burrowed underground through large distances in early versions of the movie. "At one point, the MUTO burrowed its way out of the ground in San Francisco, but it's hard to believe that something could burrow its way across America in just a day or so. So even though it's a cool image, it just felt unbelievable."
Wingless male MUTO at Honolulu International Airport
The male's apparent death in Hawaii
The now-winged male confronts Godzilla at Embarcadero
The MUTOs were depicted onscreen entirely through the use of computer-generated imagery, while two actors performed motion-capture reference for the creatures. The actor for the male MUTO wore a set of wings operated by his arms, while the female MUTO's actor wore two prosthetic additional legs and used crutches to act as extensions for his arms and allow him to capture the effect of the female MUTO knuckle-walking.
Design[edit | edit source]
MPC visual effects supervisor Guillaume Rocheron was quoted in Godzilla: The Art of Destruction as saying that he "would classify [the MUTOs] as mammals because they have flesh and bone and muscles." He stated that the MUTOs aren't literally giant insects, despite their designs being inspired by arthropods such as beetles and spiders, but admitted that their silhouettes "definitely look like insects."
The MUTOs' bodies are predominately grayish-black, with the male sporting predominant light markings. Their head is shaped similarly to Gyaos: long and triangular with the tops of their heads flat. They possess triangular jaws with seemingly degenerated rows of sharp teeth. The MUTOs have sort of "mandibles" in their lower jaws capable of separating slightly, similar to Shin Godzilla. The female MUTO has two pairs of forelimbs and a smaller pair on her chest, being just smaller than Godzilla. The smaller male MUTO is nearly identical in its physique except that one of the two forelimb pairs is modified into his wings. Both MUTOs have red eyes and two hind legs. In the novelization, their skin is described as a "chitinous exoskeleton."
The Queen MUTO in Godzilla: King of the Monsters has a "crown" of dorsal ridges on her back meant to express her age, in contrast to the single ridge of the female MUTO in Godzilla. Her body is also covered in scars "from past battles...or mating rituals."
Personality[edit | edit source]
The MUTOs represent the malevolent side of nature.
As prehistoric parasites, the MUTOs' sole goals revolve around consuming radiation and reproduction. The male actively seeks out radiation on which to feed after emerging from his chrysalis. When he encounters Godzilla for the first time, he reacts with hostility and becomes defensive, attacking him whenever an opportunity becomes available and evading when possible.
The female, once the male had matured enough, awakened from her dormancy and traversed through Las Vegas and other environments to meet with the male, who brought with him a nuclear warhead as a sign of courtship for their eggs to feed upon. She seemed to exhibit pain when laying her eggs in her nest in San Francisco, and became hostile and defensive once Godzilla appeared, and fought with him alongside the male MUTO to defend their nest. Meanwhile, the male attacked Godzilla whenever the female MUTO was overpowered, indicating a protectiveness for her and holding Godzilla off until the female recovered.
As a team, the MUTOs are powerful and able to best Godzilla with their combined strength. If nothing had distracted them from fighting Godzilla in San Francisco, they may have killed him. After noticing her eggs were destroyed in an explosion, the female MUTO displayed visible grief over the loss of her young, and when she seemed to identify Ford Brody as the one responsible this was quickly replaced with rage.
In Godzilla: Aftershock, Monarch's Dr. Emma Russell further speculates on the nature of the MUTOs, suggesting that after their young were successfully born the female could very well have killed and eaten the male much like a praying mantis. She also proposes that a newly born brood of MUTOs will act as an invasive species, adapting the environment to their will and wiping out almost everything else within it. Once their food supply is exhausted, she hypothesizes, the brood will turn on each other until there is only one individual left, which matures into the next MUTO Prime.
Origins[edit | edit source]
The MUTOs are ancient parasites that come from the same era and ecosystem as Godzilla. Much like him, the MUTOs feed off of radiation. However, unlike the surviving Godzilla, who adapted to live at the bottom of the ocean and feed off the planet's natural radiation, the MUTOs are actively drawn to sources of man-made radiation such as nuclear warheads and energy plants.
As revealed in Godzilla: Aftershock, the official graphic novel prequel to Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the MUTOs are the offspring of a Titan dubbed MUTO Prime. MUTO Prime infected a member of Godzilla's species, known to the ancients as Dagon and designated Species 5146_Adam by Monarch, with its parasitic eggs which implanted into its stomach lining and broke down the hemoglobin in its blood to feed on the nuclear radiation. After the host died due to being unable to replenish its nuclear energy, the spores continued to grow within its carcass, which was eventually buried deep within an underground cavern in the Philippines. When a mining company unwittingly unearthed the skeleton in 1999, the male's spore hatched and it burrowed to Janjira in its larval state in search of nuclear energy, while the female's spore remained dormant until the male matured. This means that in addition to being mates, the two MUTOs are also brother and sister.
History[edit | edit source]
The MUTOs were discovered in the Philippines in 1999 after a mining operation drilled into a cave containing a gigantic skeleton with two parasitic spores attached to it, one of which had already hatched. The larval male MUTO, who had hatched after being disturbed by the cave collapsing, burrowed his way to the Janjira nuclear power plant in Japan, where he caused the plant to collapse from underneath, killing Sandra Brody and several other workers, and causing the entire area to be evacuated because of radiation leaking from the plant. Despite the destruction of the plant, the MUTO attached himself to the reactor and entered a cocoon-like state, absorbing all the radiation from the surrounding area. The second pod containing the female MUTO was taken by the Americans to the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository in Nevada.
For the next 15 years, the organization Monarch maintained a research base in the ruins of the Janjira plant, where they observed and studied the MUTO while it fed on the reactor. As the reactor was depleted and the MUTO matured, it began giving off electromagnetic pulses which interfered with Monarch's equipment. Ishiro Serizawa, who was in charge of the operation, regretfully gave the order to kill the MUTO before it could destroy their base. The cocoon was destroyed with electrical currents released from cables surrounding it. A group of armed operatives approached the remains of the cocoon to confirm the MUTO was destroyed, but the creature was still alive and attacked them. The MUTO laid waste to the power plant once again before sprouting his wings and taking off. The United States Navy, under the command of Admiral William Stenz, began to pursue the MUTO as it crossed the Pacific Ocean. Eventually, the male MUTO arrived in Hawaii, where it had dragged a Russian nuclear sub ashore and was feeding on its torpedoes. A group of soldiers were sent to investigate, but were attacked by the MUTO Fighter jets were sent in to try and stop the creature, but the MUTO released an EMP, causing the jets to fall out of the sky and crash. The MUTO proceeded to terrorize the Honolulu International Airport but was confronted by Godzilla, who had come ashore to hunt it. The two monsters briefly battled until the MUTO retreated back over the ocean, with Godzilla in pursuit.
Meanwhile, Serizawa and his assistant Vivienne Graham concluded that the male MUTO was using echolocation to signal to the female MUTO that he was mature and ready to mate. Serizawa worried that the spore containing the female was not actually dormant, and the military sent a team to the waste depository to investigate. When the soldiers arrived, the facility was destroyed and the female MUTO had already broken out. The female MUTO terrorized the city of Las Vegas and began to head west to California. The military formed a plan to lure both MUTOs and Godzilla out to sea with a nuclear warhead, then detonate it in an attempt to kill all three. Two warheads were transported via a train, but the female MUTO intercepted it in the California wilderness, killing all the personnel except for Ford Brody and eating one of the warheads. The other warhead was recovered and airlifted to San Francisco Bay, where it was armed, but it was stolen by the male MUTO, who presented it to the female in downtown San Francisco.
After acquiring the warhead, the female MUTO created a nest and attached her eggs to the warhead, nourishing them with the radiation. The male meanwhile attempted to distract Godzilla, who had broken through the Golden Gate Bridge and come ashore. Eventually, Godzilla reached the nest and took on both MUTOs at once, while an extraction team led by Ford Brody arrived to recover the armed warhead. The bomb was removed from the nest, and Ford ignited a gas explosion to destroy the MUTOs' eggs. The explosion attracted the attention of the MUTOs, who had overpowered Godzilla, and they went to investigate. The female MUTO was stricken with grief after seeing her young killed but became enraged when she saw Ford, the man responsible. Before the MUTO could kill Ford, Godzilla emerged from behind her and pummeled her mercilessly with his atomic breath. The male MUTO attacked Godzilla from behind, allowing the female to pursue Ford and his team as they attempted to take the bomb out to sea. When the male MUTO attempted to strike Godzilla from behind once again, Godzilla anticipated it and smacked the MUTO with his tail, impaling him on a building and killing him.
Ford's team arrived at the docks with the bomb but were all slaughtered by the female MUTO, leaving Ford the only one left. Ford grabbed the bomb and placed it on a boat. Unable to defuse it, he started the boat in an attempt to take it out over the bay before it could detonate. However, the female MUTO's EMP field disabled the boat, leaving her face-to-face with Ford. Ford drew his pistol and aimed it at the MUTO, but knew he stood no chance and closed his eyes as she prepared to kill him. Suddenly, the female MUTO was pulled back by Godzilla, who pried open her jaws and fired his atomic breath down her throat, severing her head from her body and killing her.
Following the Battle of San Francisco, Monarch transported the female MUTO's severed head to its underwater base in Bermuda, Castle Bravo.
King Ghidorah's call awakened the Queen MUTO, who had been dormant underneath a strip mall in Hoboken, New Jersey. She began to rampage along with the other Titans he summoned. After Godzilla killed Ghidorah, she assembled in Boston with Scylla, Behemoth, Methuselah, and Rodan. Each of the Titans progressively submitted to Godzilla, who roared triumphantly.
Abilities[edit | edit source]
Echolocation[edit | edit source]
The MUTOs utilize echolocation to communicate, find a source of radiation and locate one another.
Electromagnetic pulse[edit | edit source]
The male MUTO is able to unleash electromagnetic pulses from his claws, which can disable electric apparatuses in a five-mile-wide radius. The female can instead surround herself with an EMP field, labeled the "Sphere of Influence" by the news, which performs the same function. There doesn't appear to be any limit to how often either MUTO can use their EMP abilities.
In Godzilla: The Official Movie Novelization, it is explained that the MUTOs' EMP ability evolved as a defense mechanism, used to prevent Godzilla's species from using their atomic breath. This purpose is never alluded to in the film, but in an earlier screenplay, it is explicitly mentioned that Godzilla cannot use his atomic breath when near the female MUTO. This point was later abandoned in both the film and the novelization, where Godzilla was able to use his breath on her despite being in her presence. In the novelization, the male claps his wings together to create a luminous electromagnetic pulse which "snuffed the bioelectric spark in Godzilla's throat."; whatever effects, if any, the female's EMP field has on Godzilla's breath were not mentioned. 
Flight[edit | edit source]
The male MUTO has wings which he can use to fly. The speed at which he can fly is undetermined.
Physical strength and durability[edit | edit source]
Both the male and female MUTOs possess immense physical strength and durability, though inferior to Godzilla's. The male MUTO was strong enough to dredge up a RussianTyphoon-class sub from the depths of the ocean and pull it dozens of miles inland on the island of Hawaii; the fact that he could perform such a feat, and later attack a ship in San Francisco Bay to collect a nuclear warhead, implies that he posses some swimming capabilities. He also was able to drag a 90,000 ton Godzilla from one city block to another. The parasites fought Godzilla primarily with their long, curved claws, striking him hard enough to draw blood a couple of times. The female was able to claw herself out of Mount Yucca, as well as being able to destroy buildings with ease. She was also able toss Godzilla himself around a few times, despite his own immense size and weight. To save his mate, the male dragged Godzilla several hundred feet away. Thanks to his EMP, the male MUTO avoided the military's heavier weapons, while the female took barrages of both small and large arms fire without receiving any noticeable damage.
Radiation absorption[edit | edit source]
MUTOs can detect sources of radiation from long distances and consume them for sustenance. Monarch describes them as "bio-atomic", along with Godzilla. After emerging in the Philippines, the Male MUTO attacked the Janjira Nuclear Power Plant in 1999 and fed on its reactors for 15 years, inadvertently protecting the Japanese public from the radiation they released. He later sought out a Russian nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean and a nuclear missile in San Francisco Bay. Prior to hatching, the female MUTO had fed on the contents of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. She also targeted a nuclear missile convoy while marching west. After meeting in San Francisco, the MUTOs placed the missile the male had captured in their nest.
Reproduction[edit | edit source]
The female MUTO has the ability to reproduce sexually. She lays hundreds of eggs near radioactive objects so that when her offspring hatch, they can immediately feed off the radiation. Analysis of her carcass by Monarch determined that her ovaries still contained hundreds of unfertilized eggs, making it clear that if she were to reproduce, she would unleash a disastrous number of MUTOs capable of overrunning the global ecosystem.
Filmography[edit | edit source]
Video games[edit | edit source]
- Godzilla: Smash3 (2014) - Android and iOS
Comics[edit | edit source]
- Skull Island: The Birth of Kong (2017) #1
- Godzilla: Aftershock (2019) [flashbacks]
- Call to Action (2023)
While the male MUTO was still developing inside of its chrysalis in Janjira in 2012, a photograph taken of it inside the chrysalis was taped to a map in Houston Brooks' office, alongside photos of the 1954 Castle Bravo detonation as well as an image of a moth-like creature.
Books[edit | edit source]
By 2019, the remains of MUTO Prime and both the male and female MUTOs were being dissected inside of Monarch Outpost 54 in Bermuda. As in the film, the Queen MUTO is among the Titans who bow before Godzilla in Boston, although she is described as having six legs instead of eight.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
- Main article: MUTO/Gallery.
Roar[edit | edit source]
Many of the MUTOs' roars are deep and blaring with occasional crackles and snapping noises. On occasion, they make trumpet-like cries and groans similar to creaking doors or Geiger counters. The male and female vocalizations are slightly different; the male emits higher-pitched calls and shrieks, while the larger female's roars are deeper.
In other languages[edit | edit source]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The MUTOs are the first American-made kaiju to be specifically created for a Godzilla film, not counting the Gryphon from the unmade 1994 American Godzilla film, and the TriStar Godzilla from the 1998 American film, who was later re-trademarked with the name "Zilla" and appeared as a separate monster in subsequent Godzilla-related media.
- The MUTOs' role in Legendary Pictures' Godzilla as Godzilla's enemies somewhat mirrors that of the Gryphon from the scrapped 1994 American Godzilla film. In both stories, the military initially considers Godzilla to be a threat but is ultimately forced to allow him to fight his enemy in a major American city after its own efforts prove futile. Godzilla kills both the female MUTO and the Gryphon through decapitation, though the exact manner in which they are decapitated differs.
- The MUTOs are Godzilla's first completely original opponent since Titanosaurus in Terror of Mechagodzilla. Every other enemy Godzilla has fought since then are either enemies he has fought before, clones of him, or are derived from or based on an existing monster.
- A MUTO head makes a brief appearance in Pacific Rim Uprising, during the scene where Hermann Gottlieb examines PPDC records in search of a match for the image Mako Mori transmitted.
- The monitor broadcasting the Queen MUTO suddenly ceasing her rampage upon the ORCA being activated by Madison at Fenway Park was a reutilized shot of a devastated city viewed through a bisected skyscraper, seen in the 2012 Comic-Con teaser trailer and the official teaser trailer for the 2014 film.
Videos[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The respective 200-foot and 300-foot heights for the male MUTO and the female MUTO arise from the Godzilla (2014) home video bonus feature, "MONARCH Declassified: The Godzilla Revelation." The character Vivienne Graham states that the female MUTO is "almost 300 feet" tall within the film itself. Godzilla: The Art of Destruction (p. 82) gives the male MUTO's height as 300 feet and the female's height as 340 feet.
References[edit | edit source]
This is a list of references for MUTO. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: