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The Godzilla franchise is one of Japan’s most well known cultural icons and the most famous out of all the kaiju monsters. The franchise is over 60 years old and he is set to return to the big screen, so now is a perfect time to see why this series is so enduring. The First Film
The movie that kicked off the Godzilla franchise is 1954’s Gojira. It has been the bedrock of the franchise and often seen as the best. It was the most expensive Japanese movie at the time and it was more than just a monster movie, but was also a serious commentary about nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean. It is worthwhile viewing.
Following the success of Gojira, the Showa series was born, spanning from 1954 to 1975. This era of the franchise produced 15 films and the series slowly evolved into a more light-hearted series turning Godzilla from a villain to an anti-hero. It was during this period which produced some of the most famous movies in the series and some of Godzilla’s biggest match ups, including Mothra, Mechagodzilla and Skull Island’s champion King Kong. Heisei Series
After a nine year hiatus Godzilla was rebooted in 1984 with The Return of Godzilla. The Return of Godzilla was made as a sequel to the 1954 movie and ignored the continuity of the Showa series. This series took a more serious approach, looking at the biology and science of Godzilla and exploring the origins of the beast. Millennium Series
The Millennium Series started in 1999 and ended in 2004. This version of the series used Gojira as a starting point. The Millennium Series ran for six movies and ended with Godzilla: Final Wars which was made for the 50th Anniversary. Toho, the company that makes the Godzilla series said they would not make another movie for 10 years. American films
It’s not just Japan that has all the fun with Godzilla, American filmmakers have also had cracks at the Godzilla franchise. The first attempt was a re-edit of Gojira in 1956 known as Godzilla, King of the Monsters, which dubbed the Japanese actors into English and most importantly, introduced Canadian actor Raymond Burr as a reporter narrating the movie. The most famous American version to date is the Roland Emmerich 1998 remake that was in production since 1992, with the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, Speed director Jan de Bont and special effects wizard Stan Winston being involved. The 1998 film was not well received at the time of release nor is it fondly remembered. Other Media
Like any great franchise, Godzilla transcends its original median and successes in other forms. Godzilla has been in comics in both Japan and America with Marvel and Dark Horse having a go with the license. The King of Monsters has also appeared on Television Zone in live action in the Japanese series Zone Fighter and two animated versions, including a series acting as a sequel to the 1998 movie. Pop Culture
Godzilla himself is a mainstay of popular culture and has been homaged and satirized in many forms. He has appeared in shows like The Simpsons, having a version known as Reptar in Rugrats and being mentioned in movies like Jurassic Park: The Lost World and Austin Powers in Goldmember. When J.J. Abrams produced Cloverfield he said he wanted to make an American monster to match Japan’s great creation. The Future
The 2014 version is set to hit theaters and already boasts a solid 72% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Directed by Monsters‘ Garth Edwards and having a talented cast of actors like Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe. Movie fans have been paying attention to this movie for months and domestic box-office predictions for this weekend are over $60 Million. If it does well financially then it would not be surprising for a sequel or spin-off to be commissioned or for the Japanese series to start again.