Yesterday, Paramount Pictures unleashed upon an unsuspecting world the first trailer for its upcoming live-action Clifford the Big Red Dog adaptation. And like Paddington before it, the internet responded by recoiling in fear.
The trailer shows the RV-sized, seemingly Kool-Aid dipped mega-mutt rampaging around New York to the tune of BTS' "Dynamite" and a John Cleese narration.
But as the dog grows more and more — he's fueled by love, you see — his size begins to take on a more sinister bent. We see Clifford's thrashing tail slamming humans into walls and crushing various objects. At one point, he attacks a human in an inflatable hamster ball and nearly swallows another dog whole. Climactically, he is seen rampaging across the Brooklyn Bridge looking like a Day-Glo version of the monster from Bong Joon-Ho's The Host.
The question of whether or not author Norman Birdwell's beloved pet — who debuted in 1963 and became the de-facto mascot for publisher Scholastic — is of the same class of gigantic monsters as Godzilla, King Kong, the Cloverfield alien and the interdimensional invaders of Pacific Rim has been asked before. Years-old debate threads on Quora and Reddit conclude that Clifford's enormous frame and bizarre coloration qualify him as a daikaiju, a Japanese phrase translated as "great strange beast."
Coupled with Clifford's accidentally destructive habits, many have insisted that the ever-growing hound fits into a cuddly corner of the genre usually populated by more malevolent creatures like Godzilla, Mothra and whatever the Power Rangers are punching in a given week.
The previous debate centered on the cartoon version of Clifford. Seeing the dog manifested in the real world — terrorizing poor Tony Hale, trampling Jack Whitehall and adopting the voice of David Alan Grier — has caused viewers to take up their pitchforks and cry kaiju. The reignited debate surrounding Clifford's status among monsters is now trending online.
Some viewers have moved beyond the sci-fi flavors of the kaiju world and posited that Clifford may serve a more sinister master:
Others saw fit to resurrect an even greater evil:
Digressions aside, Clifford absolutely fits the definition and profile of a kaiju. Now that we've cleared that up, we can only hope that the film is successful enough to lead to the next logical iteration of the beloved children's series:
Clifford the Big Red Dog rolls into theaters September 17.