We’ve seen enough Godzilla movies to know that the king of the monsters is pretty much unbeatable in a one-on-one, kaiju-on-kaiju scrap. It’s extremely convenient that Godzilla is on our side, and that the revolutionary tactic of ‘making friends with the monster and hoping he sees that we’re actually cool’ is a viable strategy – because if we ever get on the wrong side of him, he’ll let us know.
As it stands per this month’s new release Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the nuclear-powered beast is a powerful but portly force for good – humanity will happily take the collateral damage of a few knocked over buildings if it means our major cities stay safe from attacks by rival monsters. It’s a pretty sweet deal, given that humans contribute absolutely nothing to the ‘special relationship’.
The world has enough problems right now, but try and make room for just one more hypothetical: what if Godzilla was real? And, worse, what if Godzilla decided that humans aren’t all that cool? What if the big guy had enough of our climate abuse, our nuclear testing, and our Brexit indecision and decided he was going turn the coast to toast? What if Godzilla really did attack a major city? How might we respond? We look at the probable ways a US city would handle an attack based on real-life procedures, with input from Godzilla: King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty and stars Millie Bobby Brown and O’Shea Jackson.
“Run.” — O’Shea Jackson Jr, who plays Chief Warrant Officer Barnes in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, on what he would do in a Godzilla attack
TRANQS OF MY TEARS
It’s important to state from the beginning that there is no official protocol for anyone to follow, because – wait for it – monsters do not exist. Okay, sure: that we know of. So, if a large atomic lizard did emerge from the briny deep and began to commit acts of aggression, in short, we would be screwed, because this is not something that anyone – not the military, not the government, not the World Health Organization – is trained for.
The closest protocol that currently exists is the widely adopted ‘code red’ emergency management procedures that are put into practice when wild animals escape from American zoos. If a deadly animal (i.e. a lion, tiger, or male giraffe) breaks free from its enclosure, an emergency response team is deployed, consisting of veterinarians with tranquilisers, and firearms teams who trained with the local police.
“I don’t know if tranquiliser darts would have much of an effect. I think just running as fast as you can is probably the best tactic.” — Godzilla: King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty on the best way to tackle a Titan offensive
A perimeter would be sealed around the wild animal, and in all likeliness, if the creature is active in a built-up or densely populated area, it would be shot dead on sight to minimise the risk of civilian casualty. However, we are dealing with a threat significantly greater than Harambe here (the real-life gorilla who was shot and killed when a three-year-old boy climbed into his enclosure). No tranquiliser dart is going to pierce Godzilla’s thick, leathery hide, and the amount of the substance required to take him down could well be incalculable. And you would have to imagine, come to that, that some zoo trainee on minimum wage probably isn’t going to fancy taking on a hellbeast with a pea shooter. Stand down, Colin. It’s time for the government to take over.
EVACS AND THE CITY
While Godzilla is laying waste to the city with his atomic morning breath, the governments of the world rush to convene and discuss options – finally, the world leaders of the G8 agree on something. But while they’re rapidly cycling through Powerpoint presentations in an underground bunker, thousands of citizens are being stomped to death on the city streets, so it’s quickly agreed that a humanitarian response to the attacks is put into action while a military approach is worked on.
The United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is responsible for coordinating the response to the emergency, working with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee to provide emergency relief, shelter and food. There are, regrettably, hundreds, if not thousands, of fatalities on Day 1 alone.
“I feel like the reaction of a Godzilla attack would mirror what we see in the films — sheer panic. Myself, I’d be on a rooftop enjoying the show … I mean if you’re going to go out, going out in a Godzilla attack is pretty great.” — Michael Dougherty
Meanwhile, protocol from the MEND guide (Mass Evacuation in Natural Disasters) is evoked, with inner-city citizens urged by a nationwide address from state officials to leave their homes quickly and safely in order to evacuate the city as soon as possible. All evacuees are led to out-of-town evac centres until such time that the danger has been deemed to be eliminated.
For those unable to leave, a spontaneous sanctuary site is agreed upon, such as during Hurricane Katrina, when people were directed to the Louisiana Superdome as a “shelter of last resort”. Twitter squabbles abide and social media truly comes into its own, as those who are already safe coordinate in huge numbers to rescue and evacuate those who are unable to help themselves. In humanitarian terms at least, the cities are able to respond to the unfolding tragedy.
“If there’s somebody provoking the panic, then the city’s going to be panicking. So the authorities should keep it straight.” — Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Madison Russell in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, says it’s the government’s responsibility to keep panic to a minimum
NO NUKES IS GOOD NUKES
The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) are swift to advise that all nuclear power stations go cold and are shut down to minimise the risk of emergency, and that fallout from a nuclear military response could lead to the eventual end of all human life on the United States mainland (although nowhere in their panicked public statement is it recognised that atomic energy is what created Godzilla in the first place).
“[Nukes] would have no effect. You would just fuel them, literally. I mean that’s what they feed off of.” — Michael Dougherty
PETA are quick out of the blocks to defend the actions of Godzilla and call for the beast to be captured alive and safely released back into the Pacific ocean, but the public outcry is overwhelming and within 12 hours their social media manager quits.
But what of the fight back? Godzilla is still out there, stomping up a storm, razing residential areas and scratching his back on skyscrapers. If we’re using an American city in our hypothetical scenario, it’s safe to assume that the Homeland Security Advisory System has been raised to Red which means that citizens are at a ‘severe’ risk, and that technically Godzilla is classified as a ‘terrorist’ (which certainly makes it easier to shoot him). An OPLAN (Operations Plan) is finally decided upon by the commander-in-chief (we’re not using President Trump in our hypothetical because he’d probably blame the Democrats and try to make friends with Godzilla on Twitter) for the conduct of military operations in a hostile environment. Translation: things go boom now.
DROP THE BOMB
Military action on home soil is justified because the White House sneaks out an emergency declaration of war via a typo-riddled 2am press release – although noticeable by its absence is the bit where it says who the US is actually at war with. Everyone is basically winging it at this point.
Rather than risk boots on the ground, the first wave of military action comes from the sky: US Air Force strike teams carpet bomb the beast via all available aircraft, including over 200 F-15 Eagles and two dozen Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers carrying over 70,000 lbs of conventional munitions. Somewhere, in a back room of the Pentagon, the guy responsible for the military budget has a mild heart attack.
“I’m going to follow him. I would just follow his tracks. If I’m always behind him there’s no way of him getting me.” — Millie Bobby Brown on her response to a rampaging Godzilla
When the dust eventually settles and the aerial assaults have been proven ineffective, any soldiers not already dispatched to coordinate humanitarian efforts are drafted in to open heavy fire from ground level using XM546 missile carrier launchers and MIM-46 Mauler surface-to-air missiles. Ground warfare is supplemented by row after row of M1 Abrams armoured battle tanks, recalled from the Middle East, which aim a volley of ballistic fire at the terrifying beast. Armies from across the globe eventually convene on American shores to join the fight; ironically, global relations have never been more solid.
FRICKIN’ LASER BEAMS
The war is hellish and apocalyptic and lasts for days, scarring the sky with acrid black smoke and racking up body counts that rival any of the USA’s overseas conflicts. When all seems lost, a $1.3 billion fleet of Dynetics-Lockheed 100-kilowatt Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser Medium-Tactical Vehicles (i.e. laser tanks) join the fight in the dying embers of battle and change the game.
21st-century electronic warfare swings the battle in humanity’s favour, as even Godzilla, with his hardened battle armour and nuclear halitosis, is no match for the terrifying might of the modern military. With his tail quite literally between his legs and a deep scar across his midriff from the high energy laser weapon, Godzilla admits defeat and slinks back into the ocean. USA! USA! USA!
The clean-up effort is immense and immediate, but an unprecedented online public crowdfunding campaign – orchestrated by Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Bill Gates and Elon Musk – raises the necessary funds within weeks. Border walls between the U.S. and Mexico are left unmanned as immigrants flock to the southern states to fill the 5.5 million jobs created by the trillion dollar reconstruction projects. It is estimated that the city will be rebuilt in full within 12 years, but to protect the coast in the meantime, huge 250-kilowatt laser weapons dubbed the ‘Zilla Killers’ are erected along the shoreline in case Godzilla or any of his mutant mates fancy another pop at the champ.
IT WAS MEMES THAT KILLED THE BEAST
In time, like other previously unthinkable tragedies, the impact of those fateful days is lessened and lost to history, as the news cycle continues to spin relentlessly and Godzilla is reduced to a figure of fun through the excessive sharing of internet memes. Eventually, a counter-faction of conspiracy theorists emerge, claiming that Godzilla was a false flag attack and that his atomic breath couldn’t melt steel beams anyway.
Sigh. It’s all so depressingly realistic, isn’t it?