In a little over two weeks, a Bryan Cranston-led Godzilla will stomp its way into theaters. The film's marketing team has done a fine job teasing it, offering a sporadic stream of trailers revealing little of the actual movie, starting at Comic Con two years ago. The final, official trailer dropped in February— giving us a nifty little glimpse at Godzilla and a lot of Bryan Cranston (with hair!) warning us that we were all doomed:
But on Monday, something funny happened. The trailer for the movie meant for East Asian markets came out, and it depicted what felt like a completely different movie. Here's that trailer:
Context. Context. Context.
"The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control, and not the other way around," is a Ken Watanabe line that appears in both the official and Asian trailer. In the main trailer, it's insinuated that Watanabe is referring to Godzilla and that "man" was thinking they could control Godzilla.
In the Asian trailer, Watanabe's line is followed by a dramatic pause and then (this is key) the line "Let them fight." That twists the line a bit and comes before this tiny scene where Godzilla and a flying monster fight:
The complexion of the movie and the line changes, and it seems like the humans are goading a Godzilla/flying monster fight in order to save the world. And it seems like they're rooting for Godzilla.
Godzilla isn't the only monster
This flying creature, which is vaguely reminiscent of the pterodactyl-ish classic Godzilla movie monster Rodan, makes a couple of appearances in the Asia trailer and no discernible one in the main trailer:
The whole premise of the Asia trailer is that something (not Godzilla) woke up, and that we need to get rid of it. The way we get rid of it is by waking something up that's dangerous (Godzilla). So, instead of a disaster movie where everything is primarily Godzilla's fault we have a movie about dire circumstances and high-risk, high-reward, only-hope strategy.
The Asian trailer features a lot more Ken Watanabe
Watanabe is a bigger star in Asia than he is here, and actually gets some character development in the Asia trailer— he's painted as a guy who knows about Godzilla and other monsters and the mastermind behind the strategy of getting the two (possibly more) monsters to fight one another. In the main trailer, he's just a guy who says that man vs. nature line. In the main trailer, Bryan Cranston seems to be the go-to guy.
The main difference between Asian Godzilla and American Godzilla
The fascinating difference between the way these two films are marketed is that there seems to be no qualms about revealing things like second monsters, extended glimpses of Godzilla and massive monster fight in the Asia trailer. That may be due to the popularity of the Godzilla franchise there.
The Japan Times reported earlier this year that by 2004 and the release of Godzilla: Final Wars "approximately 100 million people in Japan had seen at least one of the 28 films in the series in a movie theater." Those 28 films didn't rely on Godzilla alone, and Godzilla fought the likes of Mothra, MechaGodzilla, SpaceGodzilla, King Ghidoarah and other monsters, or kaiju as they're called in Japanese.
Those monsters don't have the same clout in the US and Godzilla, in the (not very good) 1998 film, was treated as a mysterious creature we don't understand rather than a familiar kaiju. The same mysterious vibe is felt in the main trailer.
The official release date for Godzilla is May 16— the day we get to find out if these two seemingly wildly different trailers are from, in fact, the same movie.