Godzilla Vs. Kong's Mechagodzilla Was Inspired By A Classic James Cameron Sci-Fi

The easiest way to make two rivals team up? Pit them up against an adversary who they can only defeat by working together. It's a tried and true storytelling formula and 2021's "Godzilla vs. Kong" is no different; after all, if you make the final battle actually be Godzilla vs. Kong, then there has to be a winner. If Kong triumphs, you alienate the Godzilla fans. If Godzilla wins, the Kong-heads will bow out. If it's a tie, you satisfy no-one. Much easier to make a crowd pleaser where these two monster movie icons team up (there's a reason the sequel "Godzilla x Kong" looked to buddy cop movie "Lethal Weapon" for influence). That way, both sets of fans can cheer as they wail on a common foe.

In "Godzilla vs Kong," that shared enemy is Mechagodzilla. True to its name, the being is a robotic replica of Godzilla created by Apex Cybernetics to kill the genuine article. It's the same set-up as Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim," where mankind builds giant robots to fight off monsters. Except, in "Godzilla vs Kong," the kaiju are the good guys.

"Godzilla vs Kong" adds an extra layer of cyborg gruesomeness by making the brain of Mechagodzilla into King Ghidorah, the draconic kaiju whose decapitated head was salvaged at the end of 2019's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters." Mechagodzilla's classic "knight in armor" look was redesigned by a team working out of Legacy Effects. One of the team's members, Jared Krichevsky, confirmed to Syfy in 2021 that in making Mechagodzilla a cyborg, he looked to the most famous movie cyborg of all: the Terminator.

Mechagodzilla needed to be a kaiju-sized Terminator

In the fictional world of "The Terminator" (the original 1984 film directed by James Cameron, expanded on in sequels with contradictory timelines), humanity was nearly wiped out in a nuclear apocalypse. The AI Skynet rules the future, using its robotic minions to finish the purge that the missiles couldn't. Eventually, Skynet created "Terminators" or cyborg units with human flesh grown on top of a robotic skeleton. As their humanity is only skin deep, Terminators barely pass the uncanny valley effect.

As Krichesvsky recounted, Legacy Effects Chief John Rosengrant advised him, "[Mechagodzilla] has got to be a Terminator." Krichevsky took that idea and decided to apply how we perceive humanoid robots onto Godzilla:

"The design of Mechagodzilla had to be something similar to Godzilla himself, and that would terrify him. Godzilla is a very intelligent animal and hunter; seeing something skeletal, [akin to] yourself, it has a very unnerving effect. Godzilla had to know that he was about to face something newer and much stronger."

Terminators have a human-shape, and each film peels back the layers to show the metal skeleton underneath. One of the trademark features of a Terminator is its glowing red eyes, and Mechagodzilla likewise has red lights pulsing beneath his armor. Mechagodzilla's torso also has plates that resemble the shape of a rib cage. It's noticeably lankier than the real Godzilla, too, suggesting its frame is a metal version of what you'd find if you tried skinning the King of the Monsters.

"Godzilla vs. Kong" is too bombastic a movie to be scary like "The Terminator" is (or even how some "Godzilla" pictures are), but its design ethos for Mechagodzilla makes sense.