So far, America is batting about .500 with our Godzilla movies.
1998’s Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick was a monstrous swing and miss, few will deny that. 2014’s attempt fared much better, though I’ll still say I found it pretty dry.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters looks to mix things up in a big way, and yet I still have this tepid feeling about how Godzilla is handled by the West. Something’s missing.
The good news is that, starting in 2021, Toho are planning to jump back into the swing of things with a whole new cinematic universe of raging kaiju. Mothra, King Ghidorah, the whole gang will be there.
In an interview last year, Toho’s Keiji Ota shared some words on the future of the franchise once their current deal with Warner Bros. ends (h/t A.V. Club):
After 2021, we’re thinking of a potential strategy that [releases] Godzilla movies uninterrupted at a rate of every 2 years, although there is a preference for a yearly pace as well.
Ota cited the recent success of Marvel’s cinematic universe, but in reality Toho has been in the business of “shared” universes and never-ending sequels ever since Godzilla Raids Again in 1955. What’s exciting, especially after a film like Shin Godzilla, is seeing how they might one-up King of the Monsters, which visually looks fantastic.
But I want my Godzilla movies with mad scientists and Oxygen Destroyers and magnetic meteorites and twin fairies summoning giant larvae through the magic of song! The U.S. films feel stale in comparison, no matter what they look like.
Come to think of it, I even feel like there was a major missed opportunity here as far as the underlying U.S. vs. Japan cinematic battle we’ve got going on with these monster movies.
Think about it: Warner Bros. could’ve made a King Kong movie. Toho could’ve made a Godzilla movie. Two clearly distinct filmmaking and storytelling styles. And then, in 2020, the two monsters (and styles) could’ve clashed in a U.S. vs. Japan monster battle. Kong vs. Godzilla: Who would reign supreme?!
Of course, it might’ve ended up an underwhelming and slightly cringey mess like that U.S. vs. Japan giant robot duel a couple years ago (or like the 1962 original, if you want). But hey, that’s the risk we take for awesome international kaiju battles.