Director Michael Dougherty has always had a fondness for Rodan, one of the classic kaiju creatures featured in his film Godzilla: King of the Monsters (out May 31).

“Rodan was always sort of an underdog, in the old Godzilla movies,” says the filmmaker. “He’s always been kind of a sidekick character. I’ve always had a soft spot for him as a result. In a lot of ways, he’s powerful than Godzilla because all he has to do to destroy a city is fly over it. He doesn’t have to stomp through it, he’s sort of like this winged A-bomb. He can cause mass devastation with his shock waves, and sonic booms, and winds. There’s a certain speed and ferocity that we get from that character that you don’t get from the others and I think we’ve done him justice.”

Dougherty and Godzilla: King of the Monsters production designer Scott Chambliss explain that the look of their Rodan was largely inspired by his habitat in the film.

“Rodan in our story lives basically within a live volcano,” says Chambliss. “So, that informs what his flesh is like.”

“The idea of a creature that nests in fire, I think, is fascinating,” says Dougherty. “We tweaked Rodan a little bit so that it looked like a creature that evolved to live in those conditions. So, if you look at his scales, they’ve actually taken on the traits of volcanic rock. Even the color of it is very much like volcanic rock, the sort of dark burgundy brick red. And magma, and ash, and smoke, and fire, literally pour off of his body when he takes flight. In a lot of ways, we’ve adopted elements of the Phoenix mythology, something born of fire that rises up out of the ashes.”

Watch the trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters above.

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