Following his breakout project Monsters, Gareth Edwards made the jump from indie filmmaker to big-budget tentpole director with the Godzilla movie reboot in 2014. He then went on to call the shots on this December’s hotly-anticipated Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and was originally planning to followup his trip to a galaxy far, far away with the sequel to his Godzilla reboot. However, Edwards stepped down as director on Godzilla 2 (as it’s currently known) earlier this year – and the sequel’s theatrical release date was subsequently pushed back (from 2018 to 2019) by Legendary and Warner Bros. Pictures.
More recently, screenwriting duo Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields were brought onboard to put together a fresh Godzilla 2 script draft. While an earlier screenplay draft for the sequel was put together under Edwards’ supervision by Godzilla co-writer Max Borenstein, there’s a reasonable chance that Dougherty and Shields are mostly starting from scratch – now that Edwards is out as director. If the latest update concerning Godzilla 2’s development is accurate, then it sounds all the less likely that Edwards’ original vision for the sequel will be carried over (save for, perhaps, a few key elements).
Screen Crush is reporting that Dougherty is directing Godzilla 2, in addition to co-writing the film. Although Dougherty has never directed a big-budget film on the level with the Godzilla sequel, he’s previously had a hand in writing the Bryan Singer-helmed tentpoles X2: X-Men United, Superman Returns and X-Men: Apocalypse. In addition, Dougherty made his feature-length directorial debut on the cult hit horror/thriller Trick ‘r Treat in 2007; he thereafter moved on to direct the cult hit horror/comedy Krampus (which Legendary co-produced), just last year.
The fact that Legendary and Dougherty have an established relationship supports the idea of the studio trusting him to call the shots on Godzilla 2, in adding to helping craft the screenplay. With movies such as Krampus and Trick ‘r Treat, Dougherty has also demonstrated a knack for making fun creature features – a talent that would serve him well, on a Godzilla sequel. Godzilla 2, unlike its predecessor, is being designed as part of a shared universe that includes 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong. Dougherty’s time playing in superhero movie sandboxes like the X-Men franchise should serve him well in that area, as he helps to plan out a cohesive mythos for Legendary’s upcoming Godzilla and King Kong movies.
It’s not clear, however, what impact Legendary’s plans for the Godzilla/Kong cinematic universe will have on the original vision that Edwards had in mind on Godzilla 2 – again, assuming any of that is being carried over now. Screen Crush reports that Edwards had tentative plans to introduce Mechagodzilla in the sequel. It was previously rumored that, in fact, multiple classic Godzilla monster opponents would be showing up in the sequel, too. Again though, at this stage it’s not clear if any of those ideas are still in play or have been fully abandoned, as far as Godzilla 2 is concerned.