Sixty years after his introduction and a decade after his last cinematic appearance, the massive monster filled an IMAX screen at Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre on May 1.
The new film, titled simply "Godzilla," brings the aquatic creature out of Japan and into the United States, with Honolulu, Las Vegas, and San Francisco among his destinations. And he's not the only monster in the mix. Two other Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms – MUTOs – threaten the planet.
Starring Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the film was helmed by two lifelong Godzilla fans: Legendary Pictures producer Thomas Tull and director Gareth Edwards. They aimed for a realistic take on how the world and its military might respond to an invasion by larger-than-life creatures.
"We were trying to put more into it than just a simple monster movie," Edwards said after the screening. "Because the original was definitely a metaphor for Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a very serious film, so we were inspired to try and reflect that."
In the 1954 original, Godzilla represented the destructive threat of nuclear power after the United States unleashed it on Japan during World War II. In 2014, Godzilla and the other monsters feed on radiation, so nations with nuclear arms are targets.
"The West ... we police the world and go, 'You can't have nuclear power. You can't have it. But we can have it, and we have nuclear weapons,' " Edwards said. "And what if there were a creature that existed, creatures that were attracted to radiation? Suddenly the tables would be turned, and we'd be desperately trying to get rid of that stuff."
Edwards first introduced the film two years ago at Comic-Con, the annual San Diego pop culture festival. He said making the movie was a "once in a million lifetimes opportunity."
"I love monster movies," he said. "And this is the ultimate monster movie of all."
Tull was hesitant to discuss potential sequels should the film be as successful as anticipated.
"We're passionate fans of the universe," he said. "My biggest dream from this, frankly, is that [kids] go to this movie with their parents, and a long time from now, they're talking about how this is what made them a Godzilla fan."
"Godzilla" opens in theaters on May 16.