Godzilla–King of the Monsters. Born from the fallout of the Bomb, the original incarnation stood as the grotesque apotheosis of the atomic power we’d unleashed in the Second World War. Reflecting the atomic age’s ambivalence about our destructive capabilities, the now-iconic figure would appear in multiple roles across the 20-something movies that were made after Ishiro Honda’s original 1954 film. Appearing as an unmitigated villain in one, the leviathan would play savior against the threat of worse monsters in another, and lesser of two evils in the next. Beyond being fun monster flicks, the movies drawing on the Godzilla mythos represent various answers to the question, “What hath man wrought?”
Reframing the question, Gareth Edwards new Godzilla film recasts the monster as a part of the natural order. Godzilla and the behemoths he fights are ancient beasts from another, wilder, primordial age. They are stand as beings beyond our ken and our grasp. We could not create something of this magnitude and it is folly to think think could control them. They are Other. Indeed, as Ken Watanabe’s scientist character, Serizawa, says in what stands as the thesis line for the whole film, “The arrogance of man is thinking nature is under our control…”
Now, before anybody gets the impression that Godzilla is either masterful, or pretentious, it’s not. Edwards knows he’s making a summer monster movie and does a bang-up job of it. Huge, improbable monster fights, the destruction of cityscapes, and cinematic havoc. Still, sitting there in the theater, beholding the devastation, it’s impossible not to let the Edwards’ reframing of the question recast the destruction in a theological light.
You see, because just like the God of Israel, Godzilla brings destruction in order to save.
You can read the rest of this over at The Gospel Coalition.
Soli Deo Gloria