When it comes to discussing Godzilla, it’s almost impossible for most of us to do so without a flood of childhood memories washing over us. For so many fans, myself included, the Monster King first entered our lives when we were kids, and has stuck with us ever since. Even as we grow and take on more responsibilities, our love for (read: obsession with) this character and his movies remains, giving us fond reminiscences that fuel our current fandom. For some, that childlike awe and inspiration has never gone away, and the viewing of certain films in the franchise is like a warm, comforting blanket in an often weary world.
For me, any such discussion of childhood Godzilla love (Godzilove?) inevitably brings me back to a handful of G-flicks that particularly impacted my younger self. While there were certainly many others (including Mothra vs. Godzilla and Godzilla 2000), some of my fondest memories from this time include watching three particular films from the franchise practically on repeat: 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, and last but not least, 1992’s Godzilla vs. Mothra, better known in the US as Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth. To this day, these three films (all part of Toho’s Heisei series of Godzilla features) hold an incredibly special place in my heart, and the ’92 take on the immortal character of Mothra remains one of my favorites in her long history. After the aforementioned Mothra vs. Godzilla ’64 introduced me to the character at age six, she quickly became my favorite monster in the series. And all these years later, that hasn’t changed.
When I stumbled across the ’92 film (shortly after its debut on U.S. home video), I was in love all over again. My adoration for Mothra only grew, and the film quickly became a frequently re-watched favorite. In particular, the tantalizing bits of backstory for her and Battra sprinkled into the script captured my attention. While the Showa version of the character kept most of her history and origin close to the chest, this version implies (while still not giving too much away) a grand and epic history for the character and her twin fairies.
And that implication was all eight-year-old me needed for my mind to reel at the possibilities. An ancient civilization of Mothra worshippers? Arcane machines that siphoned the life force of the Earth? An ancient battle between Mothra and her dark twin Battra? To me, this felt like its own movie just waiting to be made. And so, my imagination went to work. I pictured the entire story in my mind, drew it in the margins of notebooks, and reenacted it with toys in my living room. Needless to say, I was a bit obsessed! My childhood self had become absorbed with a story that had never been filmed, a story that could only exist in my imagination. But even so, it was a story that I desperately wanted to see.
That was nearly two decades ago now, and even after all this time (as silly as it might sound), my fascination with the storytelling potential of this unexplored period in Mothra’s history is still very much present in my mind. The only major difference (aside from perhaps having grown a little taller) is that now, as an adult with some humble story telling cred, I’m able to finally (and hopefully effectively) put that story down into words.
As long-time readers of the GODZILLA NOVELIZATION PROJECT will know, I have a habit of crafting my shorter tales as “in-universe” artifacts. For example, The Steve Martin Report is posited as the actual report crafted by Raymond Burr’s legendary character shortly after the events of 1956’s Godzilla, King of the Monsters. Casefile: MATANGO is presented as the actual testimony delivered by that film’s sole survivor to the authorities. It’s become a tradition of sorts for me to write the GNP’s short stories and novellas in this fashion, and after some thinking and planning, I decided that my childhood ruminations about Mothra’s ancient beef with Battra had great potential as a new addition to the site’s collection of short stories.
In keeping with the “in-universe” concept, I decided to approach the story from an angle not yet used in a GNP project. I reasoned that the tale should be written as an ancient text, in a style similar to a biblical book or ancient epic. For a story set 12,000 years in the past, such an approach seemed like a natural fit. Ancient tales and epics have long been a passion of mine; I remember the stares I used to get in high school when I was spotted reading my copy of The Odyssey in the lunch room! In my mind, the idea of combining Homer-esque storytelling with giant monsters was full of potential, and I desperately wanted to take a crack at crafting such a tale, even if it was only in short-story form.
In the end, the conceit of the story went something like this: what if, following the events of Godzilla vs. Mothra ’92, a new expedition returned to Infant Island to discover more about the divine creature and her mysterious Cosmos avatars? What if – perhaps in a cave like the one discovered in the film – they found a record of Mothra’s history? And what if that record finally revealed the details behind her place on ancient earth, her battle with Battra, and the downfall of the civilization that revered her?
And bam! The groundwork for The Cosmos Apocrypha was born.
So, armed with these ideas, a few ancient religious texts, and a copy of the movie with accurate subtitles, I set to work crafting a narrative that felt organically attached to the film’s universe. With so little revealed in the film itself, a lot of the story had to come from my own imagination (including the idea of having Mothra’s physical body transform into energy that then reforms into her egg, giving her a Phoenix-like cycle of rebirth.) In addition, I was able to draw on other elements – such as unused concept art and aborted ideas in previous scripts of the film – for inspiration. (For example, there exists a fascinating piece of concept art for the film that depicts a cave painting of Mothra and Battra larvae hatching from a single egg, an idea I loved and used in this story. This idea is also present in the famous Godzilla vs. Gigamoth outline that never made it before the cameras, and I loved the dramatic possibilities of having both emerge from the same egg.)
In the end, although certain elements did have to be invented to flesh out the story, I believe the finished “ancient text” that resulted from these ideas is both true to, and respectful of, the film upon which it’s based. It has never been my intention to change or “fix” these films as I adapt them to the written word, but expanding upon certain elements (in this case, Mothra’s history in the Heisei series’ universe) in ways that don’t get too close to “head-cannon” territory is both a great way of taking advantage of the medium, and darn fun!
With that said, I can honestly admit that this is a story I’m happy to have told. What’s more, it’s a story I’m happy (and a bit relieved) to have finally gotten out of my head! I’d like to think that my eight-year-old self would be happy that this story now exists outside of my imagination, and that he’d enjoy sitting down on an evening after school, and reading it after watching the film for the 40th time.
And now, if you’re so inclined to continue reading, it’s your turn to embrace your inner eight-year-old. I hope both versions of yourself enjoy what you read.
–Daniel DiManna (unashamed Mothra fanboy)