Godzilla’s domination of the screen

From the 50s until last May, Godzilla has rampaged through our popular consciousness.

From the 50’s until last May, Godzilla has rampaged through our popular consciousness.

Galen Alaks, Staff Reporter

Godzilla. His name has been heard all over the world. Crushing cities, breathing fire, beating up monsters. The questions, though, are these: where did Godzilla come from? How long has he been around? And where is he going next?

Godzilla has actually appeared in 30 films including the two American films. Godzilla first appeared sixty years ago in the 1954 film Gojira in Japan and was Americanized under the name Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 1956. It was produced by Toho studios, which would create all the Japanese Godzilla films. The movie focused on the threats of nuclear weapons, seen throughout most other Godzilla films, and more specifically the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.

The next year, Godzilla Raids Again was released, now featuring Godzilla’s first monster foe; Anguirus, a hedgehog/ankylosaur crossbreed. In 1962, Godzilla went on to face the head honcho of apes (no, Donkey Kong wasn’t created yet), King Kong, in the biggest moneymaker of all Godzilla movies.

In later years, Godzilla fought and fought with monsters previously featured in other Toho monster movies, like Rodan from Rodan, Mothra from Mothra, and Manda from Atragon. Godzilla was also introduced to one of his most dangerous and popular foes; King Ghidorah, a three-headed space dragon.

Beginning in 1971, with Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, Toho went through its psychedelic phase. At this time, strange, new monsters in strange, new movies appeared, like a giant lion, King Caesar, who was imprisoned in some rocks until a lady sang at him for about ten minutes, or a beetle, Megalon, summoned from “Seatopia” by a guy in a toga who really liked screaming. These movies proved to be some of the… most interesting… in the series.

You may wonder; why are all these movies getting so strange? Why isn’t Toho going back to the normal movies with giant lobsters? The answer comes from two other popular monster serieses; Gamera, a set of movies with a fire breathing turtle that has green blood that you see an awful lot of and the Ultra serieses, a group of TV shows about giant super heroes fighting other monsters by blasting them with energy of throwing their sharp hats to dice monsters into bits. The Gamera series, with an abundance of strange aliens encompassing weapons like giant knives and spear heads,  inspired some other strange monsters from the Godzilla series, like Gigan, with a saw in his belly, and Megalon, with drills for hands.

Being a TV show, Ultraman was able to pull kids away from the movie theatres to their own homes. Toho tried using a robot super hero called Jet Jaguar to copy Ultraman’s success, but to no avail.

If you feel that’s not sufficient to explain the strangeness of those movies, don’t forget that this was in the 60s and 70s.

In fact, the dropping success was so bad that, in 1975 with Terror of Mechagodzilla, Godzilla went on a nine-year hiatus.

In 1984, Godzilla came back with a much more realistic and serious angle in The Return of Godzilla. This series went on with some of the most successful movies until 1995, when Toho stopped so none of its movies would compete with and ultimately top the 1998 American Godzilla film.

Godzilla started up again with Godzilla 2000, released in 1999. This new Godzilla was much more green than previous Godzillas and had nice purple fins.

Unfortunately, this Godzilla was short lived, lasting only to 2004 with six films. Godzilla then went on his longest hiatus yet; a whole decade.

Now, in 2014, on Godzilla’s 60th anniversary, Godzilla reappears with even more anger and power than before, and, while not the best Godzilla movie, certainly tops the 1998 American Godzilla film.

So, where’s Godzilla going to go next?

Godzilla is planned to reappear in 2018 alongside King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra, three of his most famous enemies. A second King Kong vs. Godzilla is also rumored to come out, as is rumored a Godzilla and Pacific Rim crossover. Unfortunately, not much is known on those, so we’re just going to have to wait…