Mechagodzilla has been heavily theorized to appear in Godzilla vs. Kong and past versions of Toho’s most famous robotic kaiju could give some idea as to what the MonsterVerse’s rendition could be like. Mechagodzilla has had several different iterations since his debut which have changed his origin, abilities, size, and design. If Legendary is intending to bring the beast to the big screen in – or even after – Godzilla vs. Kong, they’d do well to learn some lessons from what’s come before.
Godzilla has fought Mechagodzilla many times over nearly fifty years of films and their first bout came in 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which quickly established Gojira’s mechanical counterpart as a mainstay of the franchise. Mechagodzilla has appeared in four more Toho films since then, in addition to numerous appearances in anime, television shows, comics and video games. For the fanbase, he holds a lofty spot in the pantheon of beloved kaiju foes alongside icons like Mothra and King Ghidorah.
No two versions of Mechagodzilla are the same, however, as each has continued to tweak the creature and his design. Some of those tweaks have been received well, while others not so much. If Mechagodzilla appears in Godzilla vs. Kong – or any future MonsterVerse film – there are some dos and don’ts to be learned from those past iterations. Here are all five movie versions of Mechagodzilla and what the new one might look like.
In his 1974 debut as the titular antagonist of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, the robotic beast was an extraterrestrial weapon sent by alien invaders to conquer Earth. At first, Mechagodzilla is disguised as Godzilla himself, though a counterattack from the real Gojira reveals the metallic body underneath. This first version of Mechagodzilla isn’t too fancy visually, but it does share most of its features with Godzilla, from its lizard-like head to its spiny back. Mechagodzilla wields a fearsome arsenal of weapons, including lasers shot from its eyes, flight capabilities, force fields, and missiles located in many parts of its bodies, including its fingers and knees.
Godzilla eventually defeats Mechagodzilla with the help of friendly kaiju King Caesar, though the robot would be rebuilt for a rematch in 1975’s Terror of Mechagodzilla. The sequel featured a slightly beefier Mechagodzilla, though the general design and abilities stayed the same. Despite a tough fight, Godzilla once again walked away victorious.
Mechagodzilla made his long-awaited return in 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. This time around it wasn’t an invading alien army who built the monstrosity, but humanity itself. Mechagodzilla II was constructed from Mecha King Ghidorah’s future technology specifically to counter the ongoing threat Godzilla posed to the world. The new model was bulkier, tougher, boasted even more weapons, and was piloted by an internal human crew. Most of the original versions tools were still present too, in addition to new toys like a powerful mouth beam and diamond-hard exterior coating.
Mechagodzilla II also wielded the “G-Crusher,” a powerful weapon used to target Godzilla’s secondary brain. Plus, for the film’s climax, the mech combined with the flying battleship Garuda to create Super MechaGodzilla – an upgraded model with even stronger abilities. Mechagodzilla II managed to defeat Godzilla using the G-Crusher but he was later revived by Rodan, ultimately defeating his robotic mimic.
The idea of a human-piloted Mechagodzilla was promising and would return for 2002’s Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. The third theatrical iteration of the mechanical beast was constructed by humanity from the original Godzilla’s skeleton, creating a massive cyborg that was part kaiju, part robot, and controlled by a team of human pilots. “Kiryu,” as the mech is dubbed, boasted maser cannons, rocket launchers, missiles, and even some extendable blades for close-quarters combat. Like past versions, Mechagodzilla III – as some fans have dubbed it – can fly.
The big addition to Kiryu is the Absolute Zero Cannon, a chest-mounted beam weapon that turns the target to zero degrees Kelvin, stopping all atomic movement. The mecha’s cyborg nature also gave it something of a soul and a mind of its own, which was frequently awoken by Godzilla in both Against Mechagodzilla and the sequel, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. These fits caused Kiryu to rampage wantonly and occasionally even defend Godzilla from humanity, as its human pilots were powerless to stop it from executing its own will.
When Mechagodzilla was teased in Netflix’s 2017 anime film Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, anticipation began to build for an epic showdown in the sequel. Unfortunately, that sequel, Godzilla; City on the Edge of Battle, wound up being a huge disappointment. In the film, Mechagodzilla is created in a joint effort between humanity and two advanced alien races to stop Godzilla from decimating the Earth’s civilization. However, it’s destroyed before it becomes fully operational, forcing humanity to abandon the planet.
After thousands of years pass, the nanometal used to create the anime Mechagodzilla evolves, turning into a sprawling compound dubbed “Mechagodzilla City” by the surviving humans. Rather than attempt to repair the mech and face Godzilla with their strongest weapon, the characters decide to lure Godzilla into the city and kill him via exposure to the poisonous transformed nanometal that makes up the “city” itself. It was an interesting idea and certainly a change from what had come before, but it turned the promise of a spectacular fight into a dull montage of sci-fi hacking and repairs, culminating in a lackluster battle between Godzilla and a few humans rather than the epic duel that could have been. In a franchise rife with weirdness, Mechagodzilla City stands as perhaps the weirdest version of the creature thus far, and certainly one to be avoided in future iterations.
If Mechagodzilla enters the fight with Godzilla and Kong, it’ll be another new version of the iconic monster. However, given the rich history of the character, Legendary will certainly pull heavily from Toho’s past films. The introduction of aliens to the MonsterVerse is possible, but it would be a big jump from what’s been established so far. With that in mind, a MonsterVerse Mechagodzilla would likely be human-made and human-operated, like the more recent versions. However, with Godzilla still solidly a protagonist (despite his odd rampaging in the Godzilla vs. Kong trailer), Mechagodzilla would probably still be a villainous presence.
One popular fan theory is that the Godzilla in the recent trailer is actually Mechagodzilla in disguise – a trick that would also homage the beast’s cinematic debut. Alan Jonah’s ecoterrorist cell could be behind such a move, or there could be villainous intent behind the mysterious new Apex group. Since the MonsterVerse has focused heavily on human characters, it would also be cool to see the new Mechagodzilla be piloted from inside – a chance for another exciting one-on-one between the King of the Monsters and a mere mortal. Whatever version of Mechagodzilla is introduced in or after Godzilla vs. Kong – assuming that it will be – it should at least prove more satisfying than Mechagodzilla City.