Battra (バトラ Batora)
FIRST APPEARS IN:
Godzilla vs. Mothra, 1992
– red, dead eyes
– wings that were possibly graffitied by a teenager from 1997
– vertical mouth
SKILLS AND QUIRKS:
– dropping Ferris wheels on Godzilla
– saving the world and getting no fucking credit
– perseverance (even when Godzilla is chowing down on his neck)
I’d all but forgotten about Battra until skimming through an IDW Godzilla comic where he makes a short appearance. I had to really think what movie he appeared in, eventually remembering it was Godzilla vs. Mothra — my least favourite of the Heisei era. I feel like a bit of an asshole now for a couple of reasons.
1) Because Godzilla vs. Mothra is in no way the worst of the Heisei era. It is, in fact, among the best. I really don’t know what I was on when I first watched it.
And 2) Because Battra is the unsung hero of Godzilla vs. Mothra — utterly cast aside while Mothra reaps the love and respect of the masses. And, like a chump, I had forgotten him too. Sorry, Battra.
Battra may look like an evil flying scumbag, and that is how he begins the film, but there is so much more to him. He follows a narrative arc that sees him grow from larva to giant moth, from villain to anti-hero. He is not like Mothra — a cutesy do-gooder — nor is he like Godzilla — an angry building-smashing monster with the temperament of a toddler. No, Battra is a complex monster. He also assists in leading Godzilla into his most humiliating defeat ever.
In terms of design, he is very much a monster of the 90s. Instantly imposing with striking, jagged wings, Battra is built to look cool, and he does, in that particular kind of Heisei aesthetic. His abilities differ depending on his form. In his larval stage, he fires energy beams from a whopping big horn, which is a weapon unto itself. As a flying bug, he shoots fabulously pink beams from his eyes. In both forms, he is a rampaging psychopath.
Though Battra is a highlight of Heisei era Godzilla, it’s doubtful we’ll ever see him the big screen again. I’m glad his memory is kept alive in comic form and through his many video game appearances. Few monsters follow any sort of path of redemption in Godzilla movies, so Battra’s story really does stand out. It’s too bad Mothra, being the moth she is, hogs all the limelight.