Godzilla Cheat Sheet

Updated 6/16: 
Replaced coverage of RESURGENCE

Considering this blog has an abnormal amount of Godzilla coverage for a blog that is not ostensibly a Godzilla blog, I figured I'd give a rundown of the entire chronology here. I've added basic recommendations as I've watched through, based on this scale:

GREEN: This movie is good.
YELLOW: This movie has some good parts.
RED: This movie is not good.

I have listed two names for some movies: first the translated original title, then the title of the international release. In write-ups, I will use the translated title if I watched the subbed version, or the international title if I watched the international (dubbed) version. Most of the later movies share one name across all versions because from the '80s on they dropped the stupid fifty fucking word titles.

The franchise is typically divided into three eras:

Original Era (1954-1975)
The Original (aka Showa) era kicks off with the classic parable of nuclear war and holocaust before immediately redefining the giant monster genre with Godzilla's battle against his first kaiju opponent, Anguirus, in GODZILLA'S COUNTERATTACK. After a few battles with established monsters (Universal's King Kong and Toho's own Mothra), Godzilla quickly became a heroic figure and his stable of foes grew exponentially to include original favorites like Ghidorah, Gigan, and Mechagodzilla. Around 1964's THREE GIANT MONSTERS (and a Baby?), the series began to steer from intense adult material into child-friendly cartoony adventures, with a few exceptions including Yoshimitsu Banno's oppressively psychedelic GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH. By 1973's GODZILLA VS. MEGALON, featuring the Ultraman-esque Jet Jaguar song, many fans felt the series had run its course and fallen into self-parody. After 1975 it entered into self-imposed hiatus.

1954: GODZILLA, aka Godzilla: King of the Monsters!
1955: GODZILLA'S COUNTERATTACK, aka Godzilla Raids Again!
1962: KING KONG VS. GODZILLA
1964: MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA, aka Godzilla vs. The Thing
1964: THREE GIANT MONSTERS: EARTH'S GREATEST BATTLE, aka Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster
1965: THE GREAT MONSTER WAR, aka Invasion of Astro-Monster
1966: GODZILLA, EBIRAH, MOTHRA: BIG DUEL IN THE SOUTH SEAS, aka Ebirah: Horror of the Deep
1967: MONSTER ISLAND'S DECISIVE BATTLE: GODZILLA'S SON, aka Son of Godzilla
1968: CHARGE OF THE MONSTERS, aka Destroy All Monsters
1969: GODZILLA, MINILLA, GABARA: ALL MONSTERS ATTACK, aka All Monsters Attack
1971: GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH, aka Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster
1972: EARTH DESTRUCTION DIRECTIVE: GODZILLA VS. GIGAN, aka Godzilla vs. Gigan
1973: GODZILLA VS. MEGALON
1974: GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA
1975: COUNTERATTACK OF MECHAGODZILLA, aka The Terror of Mechagodzilla

VS Era (1984-1995)
The VS (aka Heisei) era saw Godzilla returned to his former antagonistic glory, terrorizing and murdering by the thousands, once again an unstoppable killing machine. 1984's GODZILLA is something of a direct sequel to the original 1954 picture, ignoring the entirety of original continuity and positing the birth of a second monster in the initial Godzilla's wake. While the VS Godzilla is occasionally manipulated to save humanity, he is more often a punishing beast who cares nothing for mankind - a burden of hubris, not a hero. The VS series is fairly steeped in camp and has an extremely strange relationship with Western cinema that I, as a foreigner to Japan, simply cannot wrap my head around - each movie heavily references/parodies/tributes a specific American genre classic like LETHAL WEAPON (in VS BIOLLANTE), TERMINATOR (in VS KING GHIDORAH), and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (in VS MOTHRA). Regardless, they showcase a great variety of practical effects action that far transcends the man-in-suit boundaries of the previous series, making for some truly impressive scifi horror spectacle of the giant monster variety.

1984: GODZILLAaka The Return of Godzilla
1989: GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE
1991: GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH
1992: GODZILLA VS MOTHRA, aka Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth
1993: GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA, aka Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II
1994: GODZILLA VS SPACEGODZILLA
1995: GODZILLA VS DESTOROYAH, aka Godzilla vs. Destroyah

No One Cares Era (1998)
1998: GODZILLA aka Godzilla in Name Only aka No one talks about this movie

Millennium Era (1999-2004)
I have not watched many of the Millenium movies, so this section will be filled with better details later. What I do know is that GODZILLA 2000 again picks up from the original, ignoring all former continuity, and that the rest of these movies each have their own weird continuities specific to them - for instance, GMK is the only movie in which Godzilla is considered magic and Ghidorah is heroic. My understanding is also that, with a few exceptions, these more Super Sentai and anime-inspired movies are not very popular with fans. After the 50th anniversary celebration FINAL WARS, the series got another decade on the frosties.


1999: GODZILLA 2000: MILLENNIUM, aka Godzilla 2000
2000: GODZILLA X MEGAGUIRUS: G EXTERMINATION STRATEGY, aka Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
2001: GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK, aka GMK (colloquially)
2002: GODZILLA X MECHAGODZILLA, aka Godzilla against Mechagodzilla
2003: GODZILLA X MOTHRA X MECHAGODZILLA: TOKYO SOS, aka Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
2004: GODZILLA: FINAL WARS

Legendary Pictures (2014-???)
Obviously everyone knows at this point that the series has been picked up again by the West with Bryan Cranston providing the new face of the eponymous monster. It is yet to be seen if different aging sitcom stars will be used to revive the other monsters such as Jason Alexander as Mothra or Two and a Half Men as Ghidorah. Supposedly a trilogy deal is already signed with the same writer/director combo and a 20189 (christ) release date for the next installment. Since production company Legendary Pictures also owns PACIFIC RIM and is working on a King Kong adaptation, much has been speculated about crossovers and an Avengers (or classic Toho) styled giant monster universe (please don't). Perhaps looking to distance itself from G98 or just anxious to get to the point, this new American incarnation is an animalistic monster battler and inadvertant saver of days.

2014: GODZILLA


Shin Era (2016-???)
After 12 long years, the dormant franchise re-emerges with its first flat reboot (the other continuity resets are all set as sequels to GODZILLA '54). SHIN GODZILLA is produced by Toho and independent from Cranzilla (making this another first: the first time two Godzilla series have run in parallel), but was lucky enough to get a limited North American theatrical distribution. It's co-written and co-directed by the Evangelion guy (yikes) and the special effects director of the '90s Gamera trilogy (who just directed the live action ATTACK ON TITAN); the composition of talking heads satire and grisly monstrosities certainly bears that out. The ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel, so here's hoping we get a real series instead of the anthology approach of the Millennium era. But really, who cares? As long as they keep making Godzilla movies, the world will be at peace.

2016: SHIN GODZILLA



Other posts about Godzilla:
Wow, Mothra vs. Godzilla is amazing

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