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The Evolution of Godzilla in Hollywood

The Evolution of Godzilla in Hollywood

Scified2022-07-12 06:32:01https://www.scified.com/articles/the-evolution-godzilla-hollywood-8.jpg
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When it comes to film franchises, there are perhaps none that have been shakier in terms of their success, both critically or commercially, than those in the world of Godzilla, especially when you consider Hollywood’s attempts to tell the story that originates from Japan in the mid-1950s.

Originally Godzilla, or Gojira, was created as an allegory that touched on the effects of the hydrogen bomb. The creation of the ‘monster’ being a cautionary tale on the consequences of using such advanced weaponry, which in time then used to become something of a metaphor for Japan’s progress in the post-war era. 

Over the decades, Godzilla became synonymous with Japanese culture, and it was only a matter of time before the American market decided to take note. 

Hollywood chose to muscle into the franchise after Tristar Pictures bought the rights from Toho Co (who created the original) ahead of a big release of the first American-made version of the story, which was finally released in May 1998. 

Godzilla (1998)

It would be fair to say that the Roland Emmerich-helmed movie was something of a flop, and the reaction from the watching public, and the critics, was poor, to say the least. Whether it was the use of VFX (Visual Effects) or the below-par performances of the lead actors, or the overall almost comic nature of the film as a whole, something just didn’t quite work.

For years up to its release, and it’s worth noting that the first script for the film was written five years prior to its eventual release, many fans waited with bated breath for the arrival of a Godzilla movie from Hollywood, and there was quite a fanfare on its release.

Emmerich was hot property after first Stargate and then Independence Day and has gone on to be something of a B-movie legend, but you could argue that the casting of Matthew Broderick as the lead was something of a misfire. 

The film cost around $150 million to make, and the worldwide box office stalled at $379 million, which is some way below what the studio would have required from such a big-budget picture. 

The failure of the picture, which was officially the 23rd Godzilla movie worldwide, put the skids on a trilogy of films that had been planned.

Godzilla (2014)

It took a little less than 20 years for Hollywood to reboot the franchise, and Legendary Pictures used the movie as the starting point for their MonsterVerse project, which was effectively an attempt to battle it out with Marvel and DC.

British director Gareth Edwards was brought on to direct, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson was the lead for a film that was more geared to a younger audience than the 1998 release. Edwards looked to stay truer to the original Godzilla story, and the film was a much bigger hit with audiences and critics.

The film starts with Godzilla being enticed to the Bikini Atoll with a view to destroying him with the aid of a nuclear bomb, this failed, and a deep-sea expedition inadvertently awoke him. This led to the creation of Project Monarch, which sought to study and monitor Godzilla and other monsters in a clandestine manner. 

In the end, Godzilla’s help is required to kill off the MUTOs, another selection of big beasts on the rampage, and he becomes the narrative hero.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

It took five years for a sequel, of sorts, to be released. This time, Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown was brought in to chase the youthful market once again. Edwards wasn’t interested in coming back for another Godzilla movie, and in came the relatively inexperienced director Michael Dougherty, who also wrote this installment. 

Now a wider base of creatures, known as the “Titans,” is in existence; it’s Godzilla who is needed to restore balance to the planet. This gives the filmmakers the opportunity to build up a number of battle sequences, and in all honesty, that then negatively impacts on the humans within the story. 

So while there is plenty of kaiju action, there isn’t much of a storyline to speak of, more a case of the story moving from one massive set-piece to another. The film underperformed at the box office, and the Legendary MonsterVerse as a whole was faltering. 

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

The third installment of the Godzilla franchise as part of the Legendary MonsterVerse series, if you set aside Skull Island, which was more of a standalone vehicle, saw its release date delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The film was already shot before the COVID-19 outbreak, so that meant there was no need for stock footage or other tricks of the trade to complete the picture, and it hit the cinemas in March 2021 and did remarkably well, given the circumstances of its eventual release. 

Adam Wingard was enlisted to direct, having made a splash in the horror genre and did a decent job in this epic where, as the name suggests, two big beasts go head to head in what is billed as a fight to the death.

As it turns out, the pair actually agree on a truce as the humans look to deal with the small matter of the Hollow Earth, which seems filled to the brim with large monsters hell-bent on destroying humanity. 

It is perhaps considered the most effective Hollywood Godzilla movie in terms of critical response, and somewhat unsurprisingly, a sequel is in the works with a tentative title of Origins slated for a 2024 release.

If you are a fan of Godzilla, Toho and the Monsterverse and are looking for a welcoming online community to share your passion and engage with other die-hard Godzilla fans, look no further! Join in the Godzilla Movies forum - a dedicated community of Godzilla movie and Monsterverse fans!

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This article was written By Chris and published on 2022-07-12 06:32:01

More about upcoming Godzilla & Monsterverse projects

Godzilla vs. Kong was the sequel to Michael Dougherty's Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters and was the fourth and final installment in the Monsterverse movie quadrilogy. Now, the Monsterverse takes a new direction - into TV! On January 20th, 2022 Legendary announced a new live-action Godzilla Monsterverse TV Series which will stream on Apple TV Plus network! Be sure to check Godzilla-Movies often for the latest news and info on the Monsterverse TV Series and all things Toho Godzilla as well!

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