The writers at Flicksided are taking a look back at the long and illustrious career of everyone’s favorite monster, Godzilla. Earlier this week Thomas Swan took a look at the early years of Godzilla in what is typically referred to as Godzilla’s Showa Period (1954-1975). I’ll be looking at Godzilla’s Heisei Period (1984-1995) in this post. And our final installment will bring you the most recent period of Godzilla’s career – the Millenium Period (1999-2004).
Is it ridiculous Godzilla has his own Time Periods? Sure – but there is a reason for the three separate period designations. The films made in the Showa, Heisei, and Millenium periods all follow their own continuity. After the last of the Godzilla films in the Showa Period, Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), Godzilla did not appear in another film for almost a decade. Let’s take a look at the start of the Heisei period (named for the Japanese Emperor who reigned at the time).
The Heisei Period began with The Return of Godzilla (1984), a sequel to the original 1954 Godzilla film, and ignored all of the films that came in between. Return of Godzilla returned Godzilla to his destructive roots he strayed from near the end of the Showa period where Godzilla was shown as a heroic monster.
In addition to The Return of Godzilla, the Heisei Period includes six more films that were released between 1989 and 1995. Godzilla battles monsters both new and old in the Heisei Period which is referred to by some as the “vs.” period. You can see why below:
Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)
Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla 2 (1993)
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995)
As mentioned before, the Godzilla Heisei films did not follow the same continuity (or time-scheme) as the previous Showa films. In his examination of Godzilla’s history, The Daily Beast’s Rich Goldstein summed up one of the differences between the time periods:
A major difference in the Heisei series concerned Godzilla’s origin. While the original series’ Godzillas were all awakened prehistoric creatures, the Heisei series Godzilla was explicitly created by exposure to radiation during post World War II nuclear testing.
To many the highpoint of this series was Godzilla vs. Mothra where Godzilla battles not only Mothra but Battra, Mothra’s “evil twin.” The return of Mothra to the Godzilla series was so popular with Japanese audiences the film’s box office totals ranked second only to Jurassic Park that year.
The low point of the Heisei period was arguably Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla. Many fault the overly complicated plot as the main problem with Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla. In the film Mothra goes into outer space, cells from Godzilla go through a black hole to create Space Godzilla, and the UN creates a robot named Mogera to destroy Godzilla. What’s so complicated about that?
Many Godzilla fans would argue that the worst of the Japanese Godzilla efforts are still superior to the 1998 American Roland Emmerich/ Dean Devlin effort named simply Godzilla which was a box office disappointment. The American Godzilla, not considered part of the Heisei Period, was slammed by critics and audiences alike for over-the-top acting, comic misfires, and an uninteresting plot.
Up next, a look at Godzilla’s Millenium Period.