Is the mysterious character portrayed by Charles Dance the true villain of Godzilla: King of the Monsters? Unlike in 2014's Godzilla, where the humans mostly watched helplessly while the giant atomic fire-breathing lizard stomped over San Francisco to battle two invading monsters, this time the people are much more integral to the plot. Intriguingly, every human character in Godzilla 2 has already been identified except the one played by Charles Dance. This is naturally suspicious and raises a red flag.

The trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters lays down the basics of the story: in a post-Godzilla world, humanity faces "a mass extinction", but not from the existence of the giant monsters. Rather, it's mankind that has harmed the planet and hastened their own demise. According to the voiceover narration by Dr. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga), the only way to stop "the infection" of mankind and save the world is to find all of the planet's "original and rightful rulers, the Titans" (which is the new name Godzilla 2 has given the giant monsters). However, Dr. Russell's monologue is suspect; per the light released story details, she has been abducted by a mysterious organization and seems to be giving her speech under duress.

So, not unlike how Samuel L. Jackson's insane Col. Preston Packard was the human villain in Kong: Skull Island, King of the Monsters also boasts people who are the enemy of the heroic characters like Emma's ex-husband Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown). The Russell family are working with Monarch, the international agency dedicated to tracking the Titans headed by Dr. Isiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins). But where does Charles Dance's unnamed character fit into all of this? Let's investigate King of the Monster's mystery man and where his loyalties may truly lie:


In Godzilla 2, Ghidorah may turn out to be the true King of the Monsters as well as the kaiju Big Bad, but with the human characters taking a more active role in this film, Monarch faces threats from all corners. From what we know so far, Emma Russell (and possibly Madison as well) gets kidnapped by another unnamed group which has their own plans for the Titans. As a paleobiologist, Dr. Russell's value lies in how she has developed a way to communicate with the monsters using bioacoustics. She can not only speak to the Titans on a sonar level, she might even be able to control them. It goes without saying what an immense breakthrough a human being able to talk to and possibly even control Godzilla and the other Titans would be.

The agenda of the mystery group also seems to be locating all of the other Titans, which is somehow the key to saving the world. Whether this is because their powers can repair the environmental catastrophe facing the planet or simply because more monsters are needed to beat Ghidorah (and possibly each other) isn't clear. This sort of involvement, though, positions them as actively nefarious; whatever destruction the monsters cause, they could just be the machinations of some human radicals.

Of course, with so little information comes a lot of questions. Is the cadre that kidnapped Emma a separate entity or they could be a splinter group of Monarch itself? After all, Monarch isn't necessarily an entirely benevolent organization; they are a secretive agency that seems to operate with little oversight. In Godzilla, they locked down a Japanese village next to the Janjira nuclear plant and lied to the plant's lead engineer Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston). As for Charles Dance's character, the big question is who does he work for?


Charles Dance's mystery man appears twice in the Godzilla 2 trailer. First, he is in the background as armed soldiers, Madison, and Emma enter the Antarctic location where Ghidorah is frozen in a massive wall of ice. Dance later gets a closeup and utters the trailer's tagline when he quips to Emma, "Long live the King!" This second moment happens in a different location; judging from the look of horror on Emma's face, this likely happens after Ghidorah, who is so powerful he can tear open the stratosphere, has already awakened.

Importantly, in both situations Dance himself is nonplussed; he fully expects whatever the outcome will be. So, who is this character and what does he want? And why is he able to joke about something so horrifying as Ghidorah potentially being awakened?



Charles Dance being the villain pulling the strings makes quite a bit of sense. For sure, casting Dance is a signal to the audience that something sinister is afoot. The Royal Shakespearean actor has had a legendary career spanning decades. He has appeared in recent films like Dracula: Untold, Underworld: Blood Wars, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, and 2016's Ghostbusters, although his current worldwide fame is due to his unforgettable portrayal of Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones. As the patriarch of House Lannister, Dance was arguably that series' greatest villain. Dance wouldn't just be cast in Godzilla 2, especially in a mystery role, to portray a kindly grandfather; his ability to convey ruthlessness and malevolence is what the filmmakers are banking on.

This would certainly explain why he's yet to be named - there's a bigger mystery afoot - and fits the two appearances in the trailer so far. Unfortunately, the simple suggestion does nothing to help clear up what his role actually is. The easiest guess would be that he's the mastermind behind the mysterious organization that kidnapped Emma (and possibly Madison); going by Emma's manifesto, they want to free all of the Titans, an agenda Dance could be orchestrating. Conversely, he could be a wolf in sheep's clothing - spending part of the film as a Monarch hero before revealing his true agenda later on, perhaps after Ghidorah is freed following what appears to be a military attack on the Antarctic Monarch base.

Of course, there's plenty of other explanations for Dance's character, including a popular one that actively works against him being a villain.


It's been strongly speculated that Charles Dance's character is actually the elderly Captain James Conrad from Kong: Skull Island. Portrayed there by Tom Hiddleston, Conrad survived his 1973 encounter with the giant gorilla and the ferocious Skullcrawlers before he was recruited into Monarch in the film's post-credits scene, along with photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). With an over-40 year gap between Skull Island and King of the Monsters, it's a believable leap that Dance has been cast as an aged Hiddleston. This has been widely accepted given that director Michael Dougherty has confirmed a Skull Island character returns and Dance is the only unnamed key player.

However, if Dance is playing the older James Conrad, there's a wrinkle in the antagonist theory. A villainous turn doesn't really suit the Tom Hiddleston character. Based on what fans know about Conrad, he is a redeemed hero; in Kong: Skull Island he has a dark past but it was through his leadership that a number of Monarch, LandSat, and U.S. Army personnel survived the ordeal on Skull Island, especially afer Packard lost his mind trying to get revenge on Kong. Monarch recruited Conrad because of the virtues he showed leading the Skull Island expedition. That doesn't quite set up a Big Bad role.

It's definitely possible that the filmmakers may have decided that something happened in the 40-year gap between Kong and Godzilla 2 that made the British captain have a significant change of heart. Contrived though it may be, but depending on how it's executed and what rationale Conrad would use to justify a villainous turn, it could work; it may be as simple as Conrad growing frustrated with Monarch for doing little besides watching the Titans, which seemingly are the key to undoing the damage the human race has done to the environment. Still, an evil, older version of James Conrad would still be a bitter pill to swallow for Kong fans.

It's just as likely that Charles Dance is playing an all-new character, though it remains curious that he is the only character whose name remains unknown. There's clearly something going on, but whatever it is - villain, Hiddleston, both, or something else - is evidently being held close to the filmmakers' chests.

While Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah will certainly dominate the screen when they do battle in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the human character fans should be paying attention to the most is the potentially villainous mystery man played by Charles Dance, whoever he turns out to be.


  1. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) release date: May 31, 2019
  2. Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) release date: May 22, 2020