Godzilla began at Comic-Con this year with stern archive footage of a nuclear explosion, before showing us last year's clips of utter devastation on a scale that shocks even after this summer's blockbusters. There was a train squashed beneath a monster foot; a string of skyscrapers with a huge hole through the middle, as though something had just bulled through. Notably, however, there were bodies lying visibly in the streets; this is not destruction that's free of consequence.
Then, amid the smoke and debris, we saw the monster himself. Short snout, more like the length of a lion than a crocodile, and a heavily ridged back like a triceratops.
The new footage after that gave us glimpses of the characters: Aaron Taylor-Johnson taking aim with a rifle (seems futile); Elizabeth Olsen running crying towards a young boy and looking up in amazement; Bryan Cranston running desperately towards something that everyone else is running away from; Ken Watanabe looking horrified. And well they might be: there's an epic battle between Godzilla and what looks like - but may not be - Mothra.
"We finished shooting two days ago," said Gareth Edwards. "We were in Hawaii on a night shoot and as soon as it wrapped we got on a plane to come here. I've been in a bubble for a year. I know everybody comes up here and sucks up to the studio and the producers, but Legendary and Warners honestly couldn't have been more supportive. The creative freedom we had and the general goodwill we had couldn't have been better."
"So you're no different from any other suck-up?" laughed star Bryan Cranson.
"I actually expected it to feel different," said Elizabeth Olsen, who plays a nurse and mother. "We never had to wait two hours for a set-up; we were on set all the time going at it. It was just like an independent film."
"I think what Gareth brings is an intimacy and a family," said Aaron Taylor Johnson. "It happened to be a big-budget art film, the way he wanted to shoot and direct it. It's got a lot of emotion. I think it's going to be beautiful."
"Godzilla was always my favourite monster," said Cranston. "He was unapologetic; King Kong was always conflicted. I want to see destruction! But at first I didn't know if this was a good project to do, because it was so huge. Someone offered me the chance to play the Wizard of Oz onstage, but I thought that's a losing situation because you have to do a great impression of the original. But then I talked to Gareth and watched Monsters, and it was fantastic because he was able to make a monster movie into a character-driven story where you felt for these people. So you really invest in these people and you still get Godzilla."
"I think I've put more pressure on myself than everyone else combined," said Edwards. "We worked very closely with Toho; it was always our intention that this feel very close to the Toho legacy, that this feel like a real Godzilla movie. We had a wishlist of actors we wanted to work with - they didn't agree so I got stuck with these guys (laughs) - but you really have to view this as your artistic passion project, not just a blockbuster movie."
Godzilla is out on May 16, 2014.