Godzilla has become a worldwide phenomenon, and the monster’s impact has not waned over the years. Not only is this the second of Legendary Entertainment’s Godzilla (and third overall in the MonsterVerse series, the second being Kong: Skull Island), but more are planned - namely Godzilla vs. King Kong. Here are 5 things you should know about the franchise …
- Godzilla is in The Guinness Book of Records!
No, not for being the biggest, baddest monster alive (we’re sure King Kong would have something to say about that), but for being the longest-running continuously running movie franchise. The film franchise consists of 35 films, 3 of which are Hollywood reboots/remakes. The number of films is only going to increase in the future, so the Godzilla train is nowhere near finished yet. Indeed, in 1996, Patrick Stewart presented Godzilla with an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award, which is not the Oscar the radioactive dinosaur deserves, but it is at least a little bit of recognition.
2. King Kong influenced Godzilla
It’s no big secret that Godzilla director, Ishirō Honda, was hugely influenced by King Kong and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. In turn, Godzilla would influence many of the “atomic monster” films of the 50s, when anxiety about the possibility of a nuclear war and the proliferation of nuclear weapons was at an all-time high.
Due to the influence King Kong had on Godzilla, as well as the mistreatment King Kong faced from humankind, it is possible that Godzilla would empathise and perhaps even befriend King Kong. On another timeline, the two would likely team up and quite literally be an unstoppable force of nature.
3. There’s a Japanese version of 1954’s Godzilla and a 1956 “Americanised” version
The original Godzilla is just called Godzilla (or Gojira), whilst the 1956 American version is named Godzilla, King of the Monsters! It is perhaps best to think of the two as different films to a certain extent as, although the American version utilised a lot of the same footage, 30 minutes of the original film were cut and replaced with new scenes featuring Raymond Burr interacting with Japanese actors and lookalikes. In the editing of the film, much of the social and political commentary was also cut out in the American version.
4. There are 4 different Godzilla eras
The Shōwa era (1954 – 1975) - the most well-known period of the Godzilla franchise, where other monsters were introduced, the most well-known ones being King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, Rodan, Mothra and Varan. Unlike the original Japanese Godzilla, these films were more child-friendly and often featured more slapstick and comic moments. This era of Godzilla is often referred to as the “Shōwa period” as they were filmed and produced before the "Shōwa Emperor" Hirohito's death in 1989.
The Heisei era (1984 – 1995) - The Heisei period ignores most of the Shōwa era of films, continuing where the original Godzilla left off with The Return of Godzilla. The return to the original timeline also brings with it a more serious tone to the films, with plenty of discussion on the ethics of science.
The Millennium era (1999 – 2004) - Another “reboot” of the original Godzilla, and this time both the Shōwa period and the Heisei period are ignored and anthologised. This era would be the launchpad for Legendary Entertainment’s version of Godzilla, which is based on Yoshimitsu Banno’s short film version of 1971’s Godzilla vs. Hedorah.
The Reiwa era (c. 2016 – present) - The Reiwa period includes the films Shin Godzilla, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle, and Godzilla: The Planet Eater, the latter three being animated feature films. It is likely that the series will continue its record-breaking run well into the next decade, as Toho (one of Japan’s biggest film studios) plans to release a “World of Godzilla” where different characters and monsters are the main focus and have their own storylines, in a similar vein as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
5. Godzilla vs. Marvel’s superheroes
Did you know that, in 24 issues running between 1977 and 1979, Godzilla face off with The Avengers and The Fantastic Four? You would have thought that the severely socially repressed mutants would have sympathised with Godzilla’s plight and maybe even applauded his destruction of humanity’s civilisations, but as we all know, The Avengers and co. are not part of the “Magneto Was Right” crew.
If you’re a fan of monster films (or just lots of action), then this year’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a must-watch.