Mothra, Queen of the Monsters.
A lineage of benevolent lepidopteran Titans, Mothra defended the natural world in the ancient past and was revered as a goddess by ancient human civilizations. Mothra possessed a symbiotic relationship with Godzilla, and aided him in battle against the extraterrestrial King Ghidorah long ago. In 2009, the scientific organization known as Monarch discovered Mothra's egg within an ancient temple in China's Yunnan Rainforest. She hatched in 2019, and subsequently escaped Monarch's Outpost 61 after a group of armed eco-terrorists raided it. Mothra cocooned herself under a nearby waterfall, and emerged in her imago stage to help Monarch locate Godzilla so together they could stop Ghidorah from destroying the world. Mothra led Monarch to Godzilla's underwater lair in the Hollow Earth, where Dr. Ishiro Serizawa sacrificed his life to revitalize Godzilla using a nuclear warhead. Mothra joined Godzilla in Boston to confront Ghidorah, but the three-headed Titan summoned the winged Rodan to intercept Mothra. Despite being badly injured in the battle, Mothra incapacitated Rodan by stabbing him with her venomous stinger. She then crawled onto the wounded Godzilla before Ghidorah could finish him off and defiantly flew at her enemy, who disintegrated her with his gravity beams. Mothra's energy flowed into Godzilla, triggering the final stage of their symbiosis in which Godzilla gained the ability to emit intense heat and generate pulses of nuclear energy which took the form of Mothra. In this empowered state, Godzilla easily destroyed Ghidorah once and for all, and took his rightful place as the King of the Monsters.
The name "Mothra" is the suffixation of "-ra" (a common last syllable in kaiju names) to "moth." Since the Japanese language does not have dental fricatives, it is approximated "Mosura" in Japanese. Mothra's Japanese name is referenced through the Titan classification given to her by Monarch, Titanus Mosura. According to Godzilla: King of the Monsters - The Official Movie Novelization, "Mosura" means "giver of life" on a small island in Indonesia where she is revered as a goddess.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty regarded Mothra as the most difficult monster to redesign. He directed his team to give her more physicality than previous incarnations, and they came up with a wasp-like stinger and mantis-like spiked forearms. These weapons would look out of place on most Toho Mothras, but the designers opted to make her body more sleek and streamlined, closer in proportions to a real insect. Feeling that early designs were too tank-like, they settled on something closer to a jet fighter. Elements of dragonfly wings, hornets, butterflies, and of course, moths went into her new look. Dougherty also revisited the film Starship Trooper, possibly for the Brain Bug. The spots on her wings were patterned after Godzilla's eyes to allude to their symbiotic relationship.
Mothra is one of the few explicitly female kaiju, and Dougherty wanted her body to look like an "old vase." According to Legacy FX member Luca Nemolato, "The idea was that this civilization in the past had seen her and been inspired by these shapes to create their fertility gods, and she's the mother queen of them." Cast and crew alike regarded Mothra as a more spiritual, even angelic monster, representing "Mother Nature's protector," and a perpetual cycle of death and rebirth. But she also had to look dangerous, necessitating a delicate balance in her features. Needless to say, it can be difficult for a human audience to glean much emotion from the face of a moth, so the animators developed a highly advanced face rig for her model. Her mandibles, wings, and legs all helped her emote as well.
Mothra's larval form really only appears in a single scene, but her design still required great care, going through "a zillion different versions" in the words of Ortega. The first monster in the film audiences see for an extended period, she needed to go from scaring them to charming them in a matter of seconds. As insect larvae don't have much in the way of faces, the designers had to weld together aspects from several larvae and adult insects to give her eyes and a mouth. Even though she was a newborn, the team wanted her to still feel tough, so they armed her with claws and as armored plates.
Though all four of the movie's main Titans have bioluminescence, Mothra's is the most extreme. As a larva, she emits orange light when alarmed, red when enraged, and blue when calmed, a nod to the larvae in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. changing their eye color when their mother died. Dougherty wanted the imago to leave trails of luminous dust that gave her a comet-like tail as she flew, but in the interest of not having every scene be overpowered by her presence, he opted to have it disperse as she flew and mix in with surrounding clouds.
The MonsterVerse Mothra's design is very different from past incarnations of the character. Her larval stage maintains the appearance of a giant segmented caterpillar. The segments of her body are rounded, and her head is very small compared to the rest of her body. The legs of her larval form are larger and more visible than they have been in past designs. Instead of the large oval-shaped eyes of the imago stage, Mothra's larval stage has much smaller blue eyes. Mothra's larval stage possesses several bioluminescent patches, which emit a soft blue light when she is calm but change to a red color when she feels threatened and is poised to attack.
Mothra's imago stage has a segmented insect-like body, with six legs and two wings. Her legs are considerably different from those of past Mothra designs, which are typically small and equally-sized, with clawed bird-like feet. The MonsterVerse Mothra has two long hind legs with two joints and two clawed toes. She has four forelimbs, two on each side of her body, with one large pair and one smaller pair. Her forelimbs are longer and more muscular than those of past designs, and end in large hooked claws. Mothra's head is comparatively smaller than it usually is, though it retains her traditional large blue eyes, which are oval-shaped rather than circular. She possesses two large white antennae which typically lay flat against the top of her head. Mothra has two gigantic compound wings each composed of two segments: a larger segment near the front of her body and a smaller segment toward the rear. The wings possess intricate patterns with the character's traditional orange, yellow, and black coloration, which can emit bioluminescent glows that shift in color. There is a circular pattern on both sides of the front corners of Mothra's wings, as is the case with her previous designs. According to Michael Dougherty, these circles are meant to represent Godzilla's eyes, demonstrating a connection between the monsters. While the S.H. MonsterArts figure of this Mothra seems to lack the character's traditional white fur and instead possesses smooth skin which ranges in color from light brown to orange, in the film itself she is clearly seen possessing white fur, with some orange fur on her forehead.
Mothra was worshiped as a benevolent goddess by ancient civilizations, even receiving a temple built for her in China, suggesting that she was able to coexist peacefully with humanity. Monarch classifies her behavior as that of a "protector," calling her the "mother of the natural world." When Mothra first hatched, she showed aggression towards the Monarch soldiers surrounding her egg, attacking them with her webbing. However, when Emma and Madison Russell calmed her down with the ORCA, Mothra showed curiosity and even friendliness towards them. During the final battle in Boston against King Ghidorah, Mothra showed protectiveness toward Godzilla, shielding his injured body with her wings and taking the full force of Ghidorah's Gravity Beams, ultimately giving Godzilla the power needed to kill him.
Mothra is in a lineage of giant, ancient moths who were worshiped as benevolent deities in the ancient past. According to Monarch, Mothra appears in ancient folklore and fairy tales from across the world. One painting depicts Mothra and Godzilla surrounded by human warriors locked in battle against King Ghidorah, suggesting that she fought alongside Godzilla against King Ghidorah in the ancient past. In 2009, Monarch discovered Mothra's egg in a temple dedicated to her in China's Yunnan rainforest, the "Temple of the Moth."
After their adventure on Skull Island, Monarch members Houston Brooks and Lin San showed James Conrad and Mason Weaver a cave painting of Mothra, along with paintings depicting Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah, as proof that the inhabitants of Skull Island were not the only monsters in the world. Mothra was entirely white in color and surrounded by worshipers in her painting.
While discussing the completion of her sonar device the ORCA, Monarch's Dr. Emma Russell and her daughter Madison overheard Mothra's roar from their dwelling built in China's Yunnan rainforest. Emma was contacted and told to report immediately to Outpost 61, the Temple of the Moth. Upon arrival, they were greeted by entomologist Dr. Tim Mancini, who explained that Mothra's radiation levels have suddenly skyrocketed after she was sleeping peacefully just before. As they entered an observation room overlooking a huge chamber, they witnessed Mothra's glowing blue egg begin to pulse and shift before a huge mass burst from it. Shaking the amniotic fluid from her body, Mothra's larval form finally hatched. Monarch attempted to put a containment field around Mothra, but their systems inexplicably shut down, as if they were being sabotaged by an outside party. Seeing the armed soldiers surrounding her, Mothra began to panic as the soft blue bioluminescent glow being emitted from her body shifted to a red glow. Mothra began to thrash about, spitting silk at the guards and grabbing one guard in her mouth before throwing him into a wall. Emma ran into the chamber with the ORCA and activated it, trying to use it to calm Mothra. As Emma struggled to find the right sonar pattern, Mothra became aggressive and began spitting silk at her. Madison ran into the chamber after her mother, and watched as Mothra was bearing down on both of them. Fortunately, Emma successfully pacified Mothra with the ORCA, and her glow returned once again to the peaceful blue color from when she hatched. Emma and Madison were able to approach Mothra, and Madison placed her hand on the monster's face. Mothra blew air through her nostrils that blew both Emma and Madison back. This peaceful communion between man and monster was interrupted however when a bomb was detonated in the observation room. A group of armed mercenaries entered and gunned down most of the Monarch personnel, then absconded with Emma, Madison, and the ORCA. Mothra subsequently escaped the temple and cocooned herself under a nearby waterfall.
In their quest to retrieve the ORCA, Monarch came to realize that Emma had been in league with the eco-terrorist group, led by Alan Jonah, and intended to use the ORCA to reawaken the Titans around the globe in order to restore balance to nature before the government could exterminate them. The first Titan they unleashed, King Ghidorah, proved to not belong to the natural order like the others and emitted a call that awakened all of the other Titans around the world. Each of these Titans responded to Ghidorah's call and began doing his bidding, converting the planet's ecosystem to his liking by causing destruction across the globe. However, Mothra did not respond to Ghidorah's call as she emerged from her cocoon in her imago stage. Monarch's Dr. Ling and Dr. Houston Brooks watched as the imago Mothra spread her glowing wings. Mothra made her way to Monarch's Castle Bravo underwater base, where Monarch and the U.S. military were discussing countermeasures against Ghidorah and the other Titans now that Godzilla was seemingly killed by the experimental Oxygen Destroyer weapon that failed to harm Ghidorah. Mothra emitted blinding white bioluminescence from her wings that parted the surrounding stormclouds and revealed her presence to everyone in the base. Monarch discovered that Mothra was using sonar to communicate, and that Godzilla was responding from somewhere. Using her bioluminescent God Rays as a beacon, Mothra led Monarch to Godzilla's location. The submarine they were traveling in was pulled inside the Hollow Earth, where they found an ancient sunken city which contained Godzilla's lair. Dr. Ishiro Serizawa sacrificed himself to detonate one of the sub's nuclear torpedoes next to Godzilla, with the radiation revitalizing him and allowing him to fight once more. Mothra flew back to China to lay her egg (offscreen).
Godzilla made his way to Boston to confront Ghidorah, supported by the military. Mothra arrived shortly after and assisted Godzilla by pinning Ghidorah's heads against a building with her silk attack. Godzilla tackled Ghidorah through the building, but before he could attack again Ghidorah summoned Rodan to support him. Rodan intercepted Mothra, and the two flying Titans engaged in an aerial battle across the city as Godzilla and Ghidorah continued to fight on the ground. The molten magma emitted from Rodan's wings burned Mothra's own, causing her to eventually lose her ability to fly. Rodan sent Mothra crashing into a nearby skyscraper, but she used her claws to knock him off and climbed to the top. Rodan flew back around and pinned Mothra to the top of the skyscraper, trying to stab her with his beak. Mothra dodged his attacks and used her stinger to pierce directly through Rodan's chest. Immobilized by the sting, Rodan fell backward down into the burning city below, shrieking in rage. When Ghidorah dropped Godzilla from the sky and seriously injured him, Mothra intervened by weakly climbing onto Godzilla as Ghidorah closed in. She spread her wings to shield Godzilla, then flew directly at Ghidorah who easily disintegrated her with his gravity beams. Mothra's energy floated down onto Godzilla, causing glowing orange cracks to begin forming in his skin. Ultimately, Mothra's energy provided Godzilla with a huge boost in power which caused his entire body to become covered in these glowing patterns and emit intense heat. Godzilla used his new power to finish Ghidorah once and for all. His dorsal fins sparked with energy as he launched forth a burning nuclear pulse of energy which took the shape of Mothra's wings and made the sound of her roar. This pulse incinerated both of Ghidorah's wings, after which Godzilla fired another pulse that melted his left and right heads. Godzilla stomped onto Ghidorah's chest as the energy inside him built to critical levels and exploded. When the smoke cleared, Godzilla emerged victorious from the rubble, holding Ghidorah's remaining head in his jaws. Godzilla incinerated this head with his atomic breath before being confronted by Rodan and the other Titans which Ghidorah had controlled. With Ghidorah gone, the Titans all one by one submitted to Godzilla, accepting him as the new King of the Monsters.
Under Godzilla's leadership, the Titans became peaceful and helped to restore damaged ecosystems across the globe. Monarch also discovered a Titan egg inside of Mothra's territory, speculated to be either another Mothra or something else entirely.
In her imago stage, Mothra has massive wings which make her capable of flight.
Mothra’s larval form can sense thermal radiation. It is unknown if she possesses this sense in her imago form.
Both Mothra's larva and imago forms can change color depending on her mood. When Mothra is angry or aggravated she turns red, and whenever she’s calm she turns blue with traces of aqua green. In her imago stage, she becomes able to emit powerful bioluminescent rays known as God Rays.
Mothra can emit concentrated beams of beta-wave bioluminescence from the patterns on her wings. Mothra's God Rays are yellowish-white in color and are powerful enough to completely dispel storm clouds. While they produce blinding light, Mothra does not use her God Rays offensively and seems to use them like a beacon to communicate with Godzilla and lead Monarch to him.
Mothra's natural defensive ability is to spit silk at enemies. Unlike past incarnations of the character, she can use her silk attack even in her imago stage. This silk is shown to restrain humans with ease when she first hatches and is strong enough to restrain two of King Ghidorah's heads long enough for Godzilla to recover and attack him again.
Mothra uses her mantis-like clawed forelimbs in physical combat, and a single strike from them is enough to ward off Rodan long enough for her to prepare her stinger.
Mothra possesses a wasp-like stinger at the end of her abdomen that is powerful enough to punch a hole through Rodan's chest. While not lethal, this blow from Mothra's stinger was sufficient to immobilize and incapacitate Rodan for the remainder of her and Godzilla's battle against King Ghidorah. Presumably, her stinger also injects venom, though its properties are unknown. During a Godzilla: King of the Monsters watchalong on Twitter, director Michael Dougherty joked that the stinger could double as an ovipositor.
Mothra possesses a symbiotic relationship with Godzilla, which manifests in several ways. For instance, the pattern on her wings is meant to mimic Godzilla's eyes. Mothra is able to communicate with Godzilla over long distances through sonar and uses this ability to guide Monarch to Godzilla so they can revive him. Most dramatically, upon her body's destruction, Mothra's energy can enter Godzilla's body and provide him with a substantial increase in power. This manifests as Godzilla's skin becoming covered in glowing orange cracks and emitting intense heat, a state known as Burning Godzilla. In this state, Godzilla can perform his most powerful attack which takes the form of a nuclear pulse shaped like Mothra's wings that produces the sound of her roar. These nuclear pulses were what allowed Godzilla to finally destroy King Ghidorah.
Mothra has a psychic connection with the twin sisters born into each generation of the Chen family. The twin statues flanking her egg in the Temple of the Moth indicate that this bond is an ancient one. Godzilla: King of the Monsters - The Official Movie Novelization suggests that this link extends to Madison Russell, who has a vision of Mothra while lying unconscious in the ruins of her old house in Boston.
In line with past incarnations of the character, Mothra is effectively immortal due to her ability to asexually lay an egg from which she will be reborn following her death. This ability has allowed Mothra to survive as a lineage for eons. Each new Mothra born from an egg is not simply an offspring, but rather a true reincarnation that genetically inherits the memories of her ancestors. Mothra managed to lay an egg within the Yunnan Rainforest prior to joining Godzilla in battle against King Ghidorah in Boston, ensuring her reincarnation following her death in the ensuing battle.
Though a surprisingly strong combatant, Mothra is shown to be considerably less durable than her contemporaries, as seen when her wings were severely burnt by the magma dripping from Rodan's wings and when King Ghidorah disintegrated her with a point-blank blast of his gravity beams.
A photograph of what appears to be a cave painting of Mothra was taped to a map in Houston Brooks' office in 2012.
- Main article: Mothra/Legendary/Gallery.
Mothra's roar in the MonsterVerse is a modified version of her original roar.
- Mothra is referenced in an Easter egg in the first film of the MonsterVerse, Godzilla. At Ford Brody's old house in Janjira, a terrarium with a cocoon in it can be seen with two labels attached to it that together say "Ford's Mothra."
- Earlier in the film, during the sequence where the Janjira Nuclear Power Plant is seen collapsing from Ford's elementary school, a chart showing the lepidopteran life cycle along with numerous large paper butterflies and moths can be seen displayed in the classroom.
- The Monarch outpost where Mothra is being studied is Outpost 61, a reference to the release year of her debut film, 1961.
- This incarnation of Mothra possesses uncharacteristically long limbs and a more upright posture compared to past designs. However, these traits were present in Toho's early pre-production concept art design for Mothra from her debut film.
- The MonsterVerse Mothra's bioluminescent "God Ray" abilities, perhaps coincidentally, resemble an unused ability of the winged MUTO in the June 2012 screenplay for Godzilla. In this version of the film's story, the male MUTO, originally dubbed "Hokmuto," had the ability to produce a lightning like "shockwave" that generated aurora-light lights similar to the ones Mothra gives off.
- While Mothra is usually accompanied by her twin priestesses, the Shobijin, this incarnation lacks them. However, they are referenced through Dr. Ilene Chen and her twin sister Dr. Ling, the third generation of Monarch members and identical twin sisters in their family. Dr. Ling is shown looking up at Mothra as her imago stage emerges from her cocoon, and her hair is arranged in the same style of the Shobijin.
- Likewise, while Mothra does not hail from Infant Island in this incarnation, she still possesses a link to this location. In the film, a photograph of Dr. Chen's mother and aunt, also twins, on Infant island in 1961 is briefly shown, while in Godzilla: King of the Monsters - The Official Movie Novelization, Dr. Chen states that Mothra's name comes from Mosura, the name of a goddess worshiped on a small Indonesian island.
- Two characters in Godzilla: King of the Monsters define Godzilla and Mothra's ancient alliance in romantic terms, with Dr. Ilene Chen calling Mothra "Queen of the Monsters" and Chief Warrant Officer Jackson Barnes questioning if "they got a thing going on," though subsequently Dr. Sam Coleman explains it as a "symbiotic relationship." In addition, chapter 15 of Godzilla: King of the Monsters - The Official Movie Novelization begins with a quotation from Hazrat Inayat Khan, foreshadowing Mothra's sacrifice:
- Moth: I gave you my life.
- Flame: I allowed you to kiss me.
- Fans have produced a great deal of artwork showing the Titans as a couple following the release of the film, some of which was retweeted by director Michael Dougherty. This pairing between the two is commonly called "GodziMoth" (ゴジモス by Japanese fans and alternatively "MothZilla" by English-speaking fans. Gojimosu)
- According to a tweet answered by Michael Dougherty, Mothra is represented by the Tarot card The High Priestess, which symbolizes intuition and arcane knowledge.
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