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During the early Heisei era of Godzilla films, which ignored the continuity established in pre-1984 movies, several attempts were made to develop a Mothra standalone feature. Akira Murao wrote a screenplay in 1980 entitled Mothra vs. Bagan, which revolved around a shape-shifting dragon called Bagan who sought to destroy humanity for its abuse of the Earth's resources, only to be defeated by Mothra, the god of peace. The screenplay was revised by Kazuki Ōmori after the release of Godzilla vs. Biollante, though the project was ultimately scrapped by Toho, under the assumption that Mothra was a character born purely out of Japanese culture and thus would have been difficult to market overseas, unlike the more internationally recognized Godzilla. With the success of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Toho sought to continue the series' newfound profitability by reintroducing familiar monsters rather than inventing new ones. Mothra was chosen as Godzilla's next antagonist on account of the character's popularity with women, who constituted the majority of cinemagoers at the time. Special effects head Koichi Kawakita co-wrote a screenplay entitled Godzilla vs. Gigamoth in 1991, which would have pitted Mothra against Godzilla and an irradiated Mothra doppelganger called Gigamoth, though this was rejected early on and replaced with the final plotline that was seen in the film Godzilla vs. Mothra. Kawakita's depiction of Mothra's adult form was given the ability to fire energy beams, which were rendered via optical effects, and the pollen dust emitted from its wings were given a sparkling effect not seen in prior movies. During the character's transformation from larva to adult, it was initially planned to have Mothra's unfolding wings rendered through CGI, though this was scrapped on account of it not looking "sensitive" enough. Although the movie was a financial success, the Mothra props were criticized by several authors, who noted that the adult Mothra's brighter colors made it look like a "plush toy" and that its wings flapped less gracefully than in previous incarnations, as they were made of heavy cloth. The Mothra puppet's immobile chicken-like feet and the lack of undulation in the larva prop's movements were also commented on as being inferior to the effects seen in 1960s Mothra movies. Criticism was also leveled at Mothra's altered origin story, which portrayed her as an extraterrestrial, thus dampening the character's motivation for protecting Earth. The character's newfound popularity nevertheless prompted Toho to produce Rebirth of Mothra in 1996.

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