Godzilla: King Of The Monsters Picks Up What Shin Godzilla Abandoned

The Oxygen Destroyer is back
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Dr. Serizawa shows off the Oxygen Destroyer that will kill both Godzilla and him. Toho Co., Ltd.

The Oxygen Destroyer will appear in the sequel to 2014’s Godzilla, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. First introduced in the original 1954 Gojira, the Oxygen Destroyer was invented by Dr. Daisuke Serizawa to kill Godzilla. It worked, reducing Godzilla to bone, but Dr. Serizawa died detonating the device. The tech would return in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah and play a minor role in Toho’s Godzilla series continuity.

Its presence in a new, English-language Godzilla movie suggests a more faithful approach to the giant monster series Americans have been bastardizing for over 60 years. Gojira was released in the United States as Godzilla, King of the Monsters, with much of its anti-nuclear political subtext obscured or erased. The Japanese characters were downplayed in favor of new footage that retold the story from the perspective of an American journalist. When Roland Emmerich tried another American version in 1998 he turned Godzilla into a pescaterian, sprinting iguana, even throwing in the Jurassic Park velociraptors for some reason. In an act of revenge, Toho killed Emmerich’s “Zilla” in Godzilla: Final Wars, reasserting the Japanese series as the definitive Godzilla.

But the adaptation environment is very different in the fandom era, where an upcoming movie is often first defined by its online reception among the already invested. Infidelity to the source material can trigger a harsh backlash. 2014’s Godzilla was well-received by Toho and Japanese audiences, while upcoming Godzilla directors Mike Dougherty (Trick ‘R Treat, Krampus) and Adam Wingard (The Guest, Death Note) have been vocal about their love for the Japanese films and their efforts to work with, rather than against, the series. Wingard named Godzilla vs. Hedorah a major influence on his upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong, due out in 2020. Dougherty, director of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, made moving tribute to Haruo Nakajima, the actor inside the suit for the first 12 Godzilla movies, who passed away this month.

Oddly enough, the American Godzilla series is embracing the Oxygen Destroyer right as  the Japanese series sets it aside. For 28 Godzilla movies, divided into three periods — Shōwa, Heisei and Millennium — the Oxygen Destroyer was fact; the original Godzilla killer (and Destoroyah’s genesis). But Toho’s latest, the excellent Shin Godzilla, rebooted the series from the very beginning. For the first time, the Japanese Godzilla has never encountered the Oxygen Destroyer.

Whether it’s just an Easter Egg or an essential part of the plot, the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Godzilla vs. Kong are consciously working themselves into the fabric of the complete series.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, shooting for a March 22, 2019 release, will pit Godzilla against legacy series characters Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah.

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