Is King Ghidorah Really Evil?
Ever since the trailer for Godzilla King of the Monsters came out, there has been lots of speculation about various aspects of the film and monsters. Lots of information has come out regarding the other main monsters of the film, Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. But all information thus far has just been tidbits that explain their discovery and aspects of their biology. And Ghidorah is to be the main antagonist that Godzilla and the other monsters, and humanity itself, will have to band together in order to defeat. Ghidorah is one of, if not the main villain to Godzilla throughout his 64 year reign. The Joker to his Batman, so to speak.
Ghidorah has always been said to be evil, and he certainly plays the part. But one trend I've noticed in movies lately is that no matter how evil the enemy is made out to be, there's always an aspect of relatability. A story or aspect about them that makes you think about their point of view, to have empathy for the villain. Is that something that we might get with Ghidorah? Is Ghidorah truly evil this time?
Honestly, I think this might happen. One thing that was made apparent in the 2014 Godzilla movie and in the information revealed about the monsters before the trailer came out is that Godzilla and the other monsters are part of a natural order. The radioactive ecosytem in prehistoric past. The monsters had a natural part in nature's order. Godzilla lived in the sea, the MUTOs were parasites that preyed on his species and presumably other monsters as well, and Rodan lived in volcanoes around the Pacific. There's a few unknowns about Mothra and Ghidorah, and while I could probably come up with a good theory for her, I'm gonna leave that thought for another day. But Ghidorah more than likely had a place in the world just like all the other Titans.
Aside from a few shadowy glimpses, much of Ghidorah's appearance is unknown. And his origins are still shrouded in mystery. When Ghidorah first came around in 1964, he was an alien from space. In 1991, he was a mutation and fusion of three little Dorats. And in 2003 he was a guardian spirit that was not fully grown. I don't think they'll go the alien route for his origin in KotM. Partly because aliens would open a whole different route that the movies could take, and partly because the director himself said that the titans will look like something directly out of nature. So Ghidorah is more than likely a creature that naturally evolved on Earth. So if he evolved on Earth, what was his role in the ecosystem?
I think his role was greater than that of Godzilla himself. From information that has been released, we know that Ghidorah can generate massive storms simply by taking to the skies. Being an aerial creature, he probably hunted from the skies preying upon other monsters. Or he may have absorbed radiation directly from the sun by flying high in the sky. While we don't know what he preyed on, the fact that he creates storms is very important.
The first images we saw of Ghidorah, aside from the after credit scenes in Kong Skull Island, were artistic depictions of Ghidorah created by ancient cultures. The first was an Chinese depiction in stone, and the second was an ancient Sumerian script. But both of these depictions portrayed Ghidorah very differently.
The Chinese depiction simply portrayed Ghidorah as a great storm dragon, but a very important detail they gave him was five toes on each foot. In the Chinese culture, the five toed dragon was at the top of the hierarchy. Only the Emperor could wear the image of the Imperial Dragon. And in China, dragons were said to be responsible for bringing rain. That is something Ghidorah could certainly do. China is prone to the occasional drought, and if Ghidorah happened to fly through on his travels they would certainly have been grateful for the much needed rain. They regarded him with respect and reverance.
But the Sumerian depiction is very different. Ghidorah is shown attacking humans, blasting them with lightning as they flee and attack him. The inscription called him “The Death Song of Three Storms.” This artwork paints Ghidorah as we would have expected, but what could have caused such a 180 turn from how he was revered in China and feared in ancient Sumeria? Was it Sumeria in particular that drew his ire, or was there something else that made him attack?
One important thing that might answer that is how dragons in general are described in history. They are always described as aggressive, malevolent, and evil. Stories of dragons are almost always tales about how they are slain by a heroic figure after causing great amounts destruction and death. Dragons were demonized very early in history, and thus always killed. As these views spread across cultures, dragons would more than likely be killed on sight. And Ghidorah was no different. While his golden scales, great size and immense power would make him a sight and figure to behold, his power alone is what would have made him a target.
The storms he creates are among the strongest our planet as seen. One of the images of Ghidorah found on the Monarch website is a weather radar image. The winds generated by him were 217mph. That's stronger than any other hurricane measured in history! Such a storm would be devastating in our time, but in the past his storms would cause even greater damage and loss of life. Structures and buildings back then were not built to withstand such storms, especially in a region were such storms are rarely, if ever seen. The first humans to witness Ghidorah's power could do nothing but seek shelter and pray they'd survive. But as humanity's numbers and weapons improved, and our egos growing with them, it was only a matter of time before they attempted to slay the great storm dragon.
The first attempts to do so were probably not even noticed by Ghidorah. As massive as he is a group of 50 or even a hundred people attacking him was nothing more than an annoyance, if he even noticed them in the first place. Humans are nothing more to ants to him, beings beneath his notice. The first tribes or armies that attempted to kill him obviously could do nothing more than try. But Ghidorah would only ignore them for so long before he would tire of their feeble attempts and lash out. If a handful of ants attacked you, you wouldn't really care. But if the whole colony attacked, you'd more than likely seek to wipe them out.
And that is what would have driven him to the point of what we would consider turning evil. Mankind attempted to defeat him, a living force of nature. And as they tried again and again, he gradually came to despise humanity. That is what drove him to the breaking point. Humanity always seeks to conquer other humans, but he was the force we could never conquer. We sought to slay a veritable god, to control a force of nature, and it fought back. He became humanity's apocalypse. He became an evil we could never hope to conquer.
It is hard to tell how many towns, cities, and people Ghidorah killed in the past. We might not ever know for certain if he actively sought out human civilizations to destroy or attacked them whenever he happened to come across them. But there is a tale of his onslaught against humanity that shows how humanity may have been saved from the brink. A cave painting of Ghidorah, killing humans, but meeting resistance. Where the apocalyptic dragon was beaten back by none other than Godzilla.
While humanity, or at least this particular group of people were saved by Godzilla, it is not likely Godzilla arrived specifically for humanity's benefit. Godzilla only intervened because of Ghidorah's rage throwing the world out of balance. Species evolve and go extinct, and humanity's extinction would not affect the Earth. But when Ghidorah is on the warpath the storms he generates would decimate the ecosystem if he remained in one location for too long. Not only would he be responsible for the extinction of one species, but possibly many others indirectly. His constant onslaught against the environment would cause so much damage the local species and ecosystem might not recover for many decades, if even at all. This is what most likely caused Godzilla to intervene. If Ghidorah is the force of destruction, then Godzilla in the force that restores balance.
A battle between the two titans would have been a sight to behold. And it probably wasn't just one encounter they had. We don't know which location painted their battle on the cave walls, so while we don't know where their battle started we know where it ended. For now at least. Godzilla and Ghidorah had their final fight in Antarctica, with Godzilla victorious and Ghidorah frozen beneath the ice. For thousands of years Ghidorah remained sealed away, but if there's one thing that always happens in stories and movies is that evil can never be locked away forever. And when Ghidorah reawakens, he will no doubt still be holding on to his grudge against humanity and Godzilla.
As with most cataclysmic battles between two arch enemies, we usually see their similarities and contrasts. And Ghidorah is a prefect contrast to Godzilla. Godzilla himself is a being of immense power, but the main difference between his power and Ghidorah's (aside from the whole atomic vs. electric power thing) is that Godzilla lives in an environment where his power really has no effect on our world. His atomic power doesn't poison our seas, he doesn't seem to attack without provocation, so we rarely feel any signs of his presence aside from the occasional glimpse at sea. He lives deep in the ocean, in an environment where humanity has no claim. Since we can't easily access this world, Godzilla has no reason to like or hate us. We don't bother him, and he won't bother us. And because of this humans probably haven't attempted to or choose not to attack him, possibly out of some weird mixture of fear and respect.
Ghidorah on the other hand has this immense power that effects EVERYTHING. He can simply fly over a city and cause cities to crumble beneath his wings and kill many hundreds, possibly even thousands of people. Even if he were to fly over an unpopulated area in the countryside the massive typhoon he creates would devastate the land. The winds would topple trees, and his lightning could easily start wildfires which would create even more damage. Such unrestrained power would be catastrophic, and our society couldn't really afford to let Ghidorah run rampant lest our nations collapse under his might. We would attempt to kill him simply out of self-preservation. And thus the more we attack Ghidorah, the more violent he would become towards us. It would be an unending cycle, doomed to play out until Ghidorah is finally slain, or our race becomes extinct.
With such constant persecution against Ghidorah, there are moments where you can't help but feel sympathetic for him. A creature of nature, with its own place in the world, constantly attacked just because we can't learn to coexist with it. I believe this makes Ghidorah the perfect example of the tragedy of monsters. When Ishiro Honda first created Godzilla, he sought to create a monster not just for the sake of being an antagonist to conquer, but a character that would make us feel sorry for it.
“Monsters are tragic beings. They're born too tall, too strong, too heavy. They are not evil by choice. That is their tragedy. They do not attack people because they want to, but because of their size and strength humanity has no other choice to defend itself. After several such stories, people end up having a kind of affection for the monsters. They end up caring about them.” - Ishiro Honda
Such a quote is usually describes Godzilla, and while this quote applies to Godzilla in his past films, I believe it's more fitting for Ghidorah this time around. Ghidorah wasn't an inherently evil monster. He's just a result of his circumstances. He wasn't our enemy until we made him one. We have to kill him just so our race can survive. And from what we can tell, humanity hasn't adopted the kill on sight policy for Godzilla. Not yet. There is still time and the for us to learn to coexist with Godzilla. And god forbid we make him our enemy before that happens.