By Clark Collis
April 23, 2019 at 05:10 PM EDT

The just-released final trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters (out May 31) makes clear that the biggest threat to humanity — and to Godzilla — is King Ghidorah, the “alpha” of the apocalypse-begetting Titans. As one character says, “We stop this Ghidorah, we stop them all.”

But who exactly is Ghidorah, the character which the film’s synopsis describes as Godzilla’s “ultimate nemesis”?

King Ghidorah was introduced to kaiju fans in the 1964 Japanese film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster during which he battled Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan. The creature made further appearances in 1965’s Invasion of Astro Monster, 1968’s Destroy All Monsters, and 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, among other movies. In Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster the titular beastie was shown hatching from a meteor which turns out to be an egg, although later films would detail different origins. Ghidorah’s powers also changed over time, but have included supersonic flight and the ability to destroy city blocks with gravity beams.

Ghidorah was introduced to the American MonsterVerse franchise in the post-credits scene of 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, during which Tom Hiddleston’s James Conrad and Brie Larson‘s Mason Weaver were shown cave paintings depicting the monster, including one of him facing off against Godzilla. That scenario is reprised in the trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which is directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty (Krampus). The filmmaker explains that in his movie, Ghidorah’s three heads have distinct personalities.

“It’s subtle,” says the director. “I used to have three dogs, and you learn that they have very different ways of expressing themselves, even if they look alike. I loved the idea that each head did have its own personality and quirks, with the center head being the alpha of the three — he’s the one who’s sort of the big brother and the most serious. And then, the other two are just a little bit different. One head is slightly more aggressive and tenacious. The other one displays signs of curiosity. So, in a lot of ways, they’re just like three triplets.”

Dougherty cast a different actor to “play” each head, via the magic of motion capture technology.

“They perform together side by side, but they moved and acted as one,” says the director, with a laugh. “Ghidorah is a singular character with three distinct personalities, and doing the mo-cap, the facial capture, that way just seemed to make the most sense. And it was a ton of fun too.”

Watch the new trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, above.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters

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