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Marines unceremoniously ousted from newest version of Godzilla

May. 10, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
The classic monster is back and meaner than ever, but this time it won't be a Marine who saves the day.
The classic monster is back and meaner than ever, but this time it won't be a Marine who saves the day. (Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures)
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Marines have received a demotion in the new “Godzilla” movie set for release May 16.

In the 1998 version starring Matthew Broderick, an actual Reserve Marine F-18 pilot was responsible for dealing the final blow to fell the beast. As the lead pilot in a formation of several fast-movers, Col. Dwight Schmidt showed the way as they launched two volleys of missiles into the terrible reptile.

It is not immediately clear how big a role Marines will play in the new movie, but it appears they’ll take a back seat to the Navy this time around. The Marine Corps Motion Picture & TV Liaison Office in Los Angeles declined to participate in the production after reviewing several iterations of the script, said Lt. Col. Curtis Hill, a spokesman with the office.

The Navy, on the other hand, participated heavily.

The filmmakers for “Godzilla” were given access to Navy flattops and other support from the Defense Department to make sure the movie’s portrayal of sailors and other U.S. service members was as accurate as possible, said Navy Capt. Russ Coons of the Navy Office of Information–West.

The Navy jumped at the opportunity.

“The thematics of the storyline are supported by our core values,” Coons said, “so you see in every instance the honor, courage and commitment of DoD men and women as they realize that certain tactics, techniques and procedures don’t have an effect on their ability to counter the effects of the monster, so they improvise, adapt and overcome.”

Hill said the Marine Corps didn’t see an advantage in getting involved with this particular movie.

“The Navy was the DoD lead project service for the Godzilla; however, that had no bearing on the decision regarding participation. The bottom line is the script did not get to a point where there was a benefit to the Marine Corps to participate in the production,” Hill said without elaborating.

Likely, it’s because the hero in the movie, the lead role, is scripted as a Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician.

But Marines did influence the film. Retired Marine Sgt. Maj. James D. Dever, the film’s military technical adviser, put the lead actor through a mini-bootcamp to ensure he had good military bearing. He also helped stunt men train for high-altitude, low-opening jumps.

Col. Schmidt, the pilot who killed Godzilla the last time, just returned from a deployment to al-Udeid, Qatar. But he would have been willing to go toe-to-toe with the beast again.

“I’m absolutely disappointed,” he said with a chuckle.

Schmidt, who deployed to Bosnia in the 1990s and Iraq in 2005, now serves with Aviation Command and Control Team at Naval Station Great Lakes, Michigan. He has worked as a consultant on a number of films including Independence Day, where he made an appearance during a ready-room scene alongside Will Smith and Harry Connick Jr.

The last Godzilla movie seemed to suggest another resurrection, and Schmidt said he was happy to see a new version is coming — even if he wasn’t a part of it. This one may feature Godzilla’s longtime nemesis, Mothra, who, incidentally, is Schmidt’s second choice if he had the opportunity to kill another fictional monster.

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