Kaiju Profile: Mechagodzilla 2021
Hello kaiju fans, I'm Koopa, and today we'll be covering the Titanium Titan, the MonsterVerse Robo-Godzilla! [Josh Valentine: "No, that's… Mechagodzilla."]
With the other members of Toho's Big Five already featured in the first three entries of the MonsterVerse, it was high time to introduce Godzilla's mechanical doppelganger for "Godzilla vs. Kong." A jerk to rival the Showa version, this iteration of Mechagodzilla was built by Apex Cybernetics in order to end the reign of the Titans and reestablish mankind as the planet's apex species. However, the ill-advised use of King Ghidorah's skull as a neural interface for the mecha resulted in it breaking free of its creators' control, rampaging through Hong Kong, and rapidly overpowering Godzilla. Fortunately, Kong came to the rescue, and the two Titans worked together to destroy the robot.
Max Borenstein included Mechagodzilla in his first draft for the third MonsterVerse film, "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," which he wrote before director Gareth Edwards left the project. When Legendary Pictures brought him in to polish the "Godzilla vs. Kong" script, he was pleased to see it had made the cut this time: "It made a lot of sense to be there because then you have these two iconic adversaries, but neither one is a villain. So let's introduce an iconic villain."
According to director Adam Wingard, this Mechagodzilla was inspired by the simple, blocky designs of classic Transformers. Lindsay MacGowan, Jared Krichevsky, Darnell Isom, and Simon Webber of Legacy Effects worked on the machine's design, with Wingard favoring Krichevsky's approach after just his first revision… [Wingard: "Even amongst all these different versions that we looked at, the version that we ended up with was almost there right from the get-go. We kinda knew that this was the right direction."] They were instructed not to give Mechagodzilla "shoulder rockets", which were ultimately added anyway, but otherwise given free reign. Krichevsky previously designed a Mechagodzilla for another Warner Bros. film, "Ready Player One," though he wanted his second rendition of the character to be as distinct as possible. He put an "x" pattern on the panels running down its arms and legs as a homage to the original Mechagodzilla's Cross Attack Beam and borrowed Kiryu's "ribbed neck and abdomen pieces." The hands were inspired by mirror hand syndrome and chameleons. Additional influences: the endoskeleton of the T-800 from the "Terminator" movies, the Dinobots from "Transformers: Age of Extinction," and the spines of Mecha-King Ghidorah. There were several revisions of the spines on the near-final design before the stubby MKG-like spines were settled on, by the way.
Godzilla vs. Kong: For five years after Godzilla's battle with King Ghidorah, Bernie Hayes worked undercover at Apex Cybernetics' facility in Pensacola, Florida. The host of Titan Truth Podcast hoped to reveal the company's role in a sinister conspiracy, although he wasn't quite sure what that conspiracy was. While Hayes transferred Apex files onto a flash drive, Godzilla suddenly raided the facility. Hayes used the chaos to investigate an off-limits area, which was subsequently struck by Godzilla's atomic breath. Among the rubble and twisted metal, Hayes saw a gigantic robotic eye, pulsing red.
Following the attack, Apex CEO Walter Simmons and Chief Technology Officer Ren Serizawa convinced Dr. Nathan Lind to organize a joint Monarch-Apex mission into the Hollow Earth. Apex's goal was the procurement of a powerful energy source they had detected, which they believed would allow them to create a weapon capable of matching Godzilla.
Madison Russell, an avid listener of Hayes's podcast and key player in the Ghidorah incident, subscribed to his theory that Apex provoked Godzilla's attack. She and her friend Josh Valentine tracked him down, and the unlikely trio decided to infiltrate the ravaged Apex facility. The massive eye Hayes saw was missing, but Madison led them to sublevel 33 and a maglev train full of Skullcrawler eggs. They hitched a ride to Apex headquarters in Hong Kong.
When the maglev arrived, the three disembarked and found themselves within a huge, stinking "sacrifice pit". They soon beheld Apex's ultimate weapon: Mechagodzilla, remotely piloted by Serizawa inside a giant skull. From the control room, Simmons ordered the release of "Number 10". A giant Skullcrawler promptly erupted from behind a metal door and charged after Team Godzilla. Before it could devour Madison, the Mecha seized it and fired a Proton Scream directly into its mouth. The beam moved down the beast's body, cleaving it cleanly in half. Mechagodzilla then powered down, with Serizawa relaying to a disappointed Simmons that it only reached 40% of its power capacity. The CEO asserted that the energy source from the Hollow Earth would solve the problem. But their test had a price: having detected Mechagodzilla, Godzilla began swimming towards Hong Kong.
After taking shelter in a bunker, Team Godzilla discovered a room containing the skull of King Ghidorah's left head, with numerous tubes feeding into it. Bernie posited that Apex had converted the skull into a living supercomputer in order to control Mechagodzilla. Serizawa sat inside in a trance-like state. Meanwhile, the Apex team in the Hollow Earth expedition secured a sample of the energy source and uploaded it to Apex HQ, where it was successfully recreated. Simmons ordered Serizawa into battle against the approaching Godzilla, ignoring his concerns about the new energy's unpredictability.
Emerging from a hole Godzilla blasted into the Hollow Earth, King Kong duked it out with his archrival once more. Apex guards soon apprehended Team Godzilla and brought them before Simmons. Madison accused him of starting a war, though Simmons proudly touted Mechagodzilla as humanity's only way to measure up to the Titans. As Hollow Earth energy flowed into the magnificent machine, a familiar trill filled the air and its link to Serizawa was severed. It turned towards Simmons in the control room before silencing him mid-speech. An energy surge promptly electrocuted Serizawa.
Its AI now merged with Ghidorah's consciousness, Mechagodzilla freed itself from the facility under Victoria Peak Mountain using its Proton Scream, descending into the city below. Immediately, the mecha began destroying large swaths of Hong Kong before noticing Godzilla nearby, fresh off a victory against Kong. Godzilla roared and barreled toward his mechanical double. The mech launched a barrage of missiles at him as it charged as well. After they collided, Mechagodzilla quickly gained the advantage with an energized punch. Josh, realizing the robot was still connected to an Apex satellite, tried to disable it.
Even Godzilla's atomic breath couldn't save him, as Mechagodzilla overpowered it with a Proton Scream. In the midst of the one-sided offensive, Lind resuscitated Kong with an improvised defibrillator, detonating a Hollow Earth Aerial Vehicle on his chest. Jia, last of the Iwi who once lived with Kong on Skull Island, convinced him that Mechagodzilla was his true enemy. He intervened just before Mechagodzilla could fire its Proton Scream down Godzilla's throat, causing its shot to go wide. The two Titans resolved to work together, but Mechagodzilla was not so easily bested, knocking Godzilla down before trying to drive its tail into Kong's eye. Bernie was ready to admit defeat, but inspiration struck Josh. He grabbed Bernie's flask and dumped the contents onto a control panel, causing it to spark and Mechagodzilla to briefly pause its offensive. Kong struck a blow with his axe and Godzilla blew atomic breath at the weapon, powering it up. Kong went off, slicing off half of the robot's tail, both its arms, and one of its legs. Mechagodzilla readied its Proton Scream, but Kong planted his blade into its neck and ripped off its head, "spinal cord" and all.
The victorious Kong roared triumphantly, holding his trophy up high… then tossed it away. The short-lived terror of Mechagodzilla was over.
Though streamlined compared to previous incarnations, this Mechagodzilla still sported a formidable arsenal.
Synthesized Hollow Earth energy strengthened its physical capabilities; the mech easily overpowered Godzilla in close-quarters combat. Its crane-like Rotor Claws allowed it to easily grapple with foes, and delivered extra oomph to its punches when spun. To be extra mean, they're even covered in buzzsaws. Jet boosters strengthened its blows as well, and improved its maneuverability too. Its flexible tail was tipped with multiple spikes, and could be spun like a drill. We didn't get a chance to see it, but the robot had a powerful chomp: its hydraulic bite strength was billed at 7400 psi. Plus, its jaws are packed with industrial shredders.
With an endoskeleton composed of titanium, Mechagodzilla's durability makes it incredibly resistant to damage and allows it to fight at peak performance for a majority of the battle. Even Kong's axe was unable to cause any significant damage until Godzilla charged it. Mechagodzilla was also equipped with a plethora of hidden missile launchers: two sixteen-cell launchers facing forward, a four-cell launcher in its left shoulder, and three four-cell launchers in its chest, unused in the film but visible in the bonus features and the S.H. MonsterArts figure.
The mechanical behemoth's ultimate weapon was the A-74 Proton Scream Cannon, which shot a powerful red stream of energy modeled after Godzilla's atomic breath. Mechagodzilla mimicked his "Kiss of Death" technique too.
"GVK"'s Japanese theater program peculiarly lists the Proton Scream's energy yield as "4.10 x 1080 joules (12 to the 16th power)." If we ignore the last bit for a second and take this to mean 4.10 x 10^80—similar to Godzilla's "3.15 x 1014" from the same program—we are left with an energy yield that is 100 billion times greater than the entire mass-energy of the observable universe… so, uh, let's assume that was a typo. If we instead go with "4.10 x 12^16," we get a comparatively more reasonable 758 Petajoules. But don't be fooled, that's still over three times as powerful as the strongest nuclear weapon ever detonated (the Tsar Bomba, at an estimated 210 Petajoules), and 2 thousand times the yield of Godzilla's own atomic breath! This puts into perspective the beam lock we saw between them: poor Godzilla's visibly struggling, pouring his very soul into his heat ray, while MG was literally not even trying 'til it decided enough was enough. Even at just 40% power, the beam sliced a gigantic Skullcrawler in half. Yeouch!
Taking a step back from in-universe literalism, Adam Wingard stated in an Toho Kingdom interview that he didn't think Mechagodzilla could have overpowered Goji's atomic breath had the King of Monsters not been weakened by the battles with Kong immediately prior. [Wingard:] "Ultimately it just works better that Mechagodzilla is this thing, he’s been created to perfectly take on Godzilla. Maybe that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s stronger than G but he’s able to be one step ahead and you also have to consider the fact that G has just gone through 3 rounds with Kong where he exercised his nuclear breath to its absolute core and so he’s pretty worn down at this point. There's this one shot where G and MG fire their beams at each other at the same time. And MG's actually overpowers G's, and I don't think that would have been the case if G was coming in fresh, but I think G was weakened a bit. We never expressly state that but that was my impression of it and I actually tried to avoid that moment because I didn’t want to give the impression that MG was just so powerful but ultimately that’s just where it landed and just made the most sense."
The Ghost of Ghidorah: This Mechagodzilla is the first incarnation of the character to fall under the control of a Ghidorah on film, but not in the wider world of Godzilla stories. In the climax of Shogakukan's manga adaptation for "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II," Mecha-King Ghidorah's latent programming wrenched control of Super Mechagodzilla from the humans piloting it. MKG brutally assaulted Godzilla while he was downed by the G-Crusher, nearly killing the King of the Monsters. As in the film, Rodan's intervention saved his life and gave him the energy he needed to put down Mecha G for good.
Minted Mecha: Alongside the MonsterVerse Godzilla and Kong, Mechagodzilla is one of a handful of monsters to receive merchandise in a rather niche category - numismatics! APMEX, a bullion dealer based in Oklahoma City, partnered with the New Zealand Mint around the movie's global release window to develop and distribute a special series of "Godzilla vs. Kong"-themed gold and silver coins, with Mechagodzilla's patch design being featured on a colorized silver coin weighing 1 troy ounce, or 31.1 grams. Technically, they're legal tender in Niue, an associated state of New Zealand, so in theory you could spend them… if you like losing the majority of the coin's metal value in favor of its much smaller face value, that is! In a different sense of the word "minted…" there's the array of licensed "Godzilla vs. Kong" non-fungible tokens put out by Terra Virtua. Legend has it that someone shelled out the dough for one of the Godzilla NFTs, realized it was just a literal video file, and simply ripped the model from the 3D viewer. From there it fell into the public's hands. The rest, my friends, is history. :)
CLASSIFIED INTEL: Toho's Japanese theatrical release of "Godzilla vs. Kong" on July 2nd was of course accompanied by a printed theater program for the film, which revealed some information about the mechanized Titan in Japanese that hadn't been shared anywhere before, not even in the bonus features or art book. Cards containing this data in English did finally get put out in late 2021… as part of the Japanese Blu-ray set of "GVK." Okay then? Anyways… this info included its height, the full names of some of its attacks, and the name of its operating system: "Kuronuma Psionic V1.3". This references the commander of the Black Hole Planet 3 Aliens that controlled Mecha G in its debut film. Furthermore, the program reveals that Mechagodzilla is powered by a Maser Power Core with a capacity equivalent to over 600 roentgens of radiation, and an energy output of 2.42 gigawatts, all housed in its T-1 Nanometal Skeleton body frame.
Novelization differences: In the "Godzilla vs. Kong" novelization by Greg Keyes, Apex somehow purchased a second Ghidorah skull from Alan Jonah and planted it inside Mechagodzilla. In the movie, Bernie also hypothesized that there was a second Ghidorah skull inside Mechagodzilla, but we never learn if he was right. Also, the novelization states outright that Ghidorah's takeover of Mechagodzilla killed Ren, and it wasn't pretty.
GAMES: Mechagodzilla's video game debut came in the form of a crossover with the mobile version of "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds". The machine was polite enough to deploy some drones during its attack on a naval fleet, so the player could feel like they were doing something. This crossover wasn't limited to the game itself, as Mechagodzilla also starred alongside Godzilla and King Kong in a motion comic released around the time of the crossover event. A much cuter version turned up in another mobile game, "Go Big!", at the end of the year.
Sometimes Friends Fight: Finally, Mechagodzilla appears on a single page of the children's board board "Godzilla vs. Kong: Sometimes Friends Fight (But They Always Make Up)". Imagine the chaos if this had been our first look at the design!
That's all we have for the 2021 Mechagodzilla. What were your initial thoughts back in early 2020 when those photos of the Playmates toys were leaked, and how have they changed since the movie came out? We'd love to read your comments. Thank you all so much for watching.