The history of Godzilla is littered with stories of destruction and chaos caused by the giant monster since it first terrorized Japan in 1954. The most recent chapters of his saga have seen him pitted against some of his most powerful foes yet, most notably King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, and Godzilla Earth. However, the years 1974-1976 and 2022-2024 have a very distinct quality that sets them apart from the others.
While both eras were respectively the first and third cinematic arcs of the Showa and Reiwa periods, they are also two of the only times in Godzilla’s history that a single cinematic storyline was carried across two successive sequels. During the theatrical run of these three kaiju films, the world got to see new incarnations of old favorites of ours, new adversaries and, most interestingly, the intertwining arcs of overlapping stories.
The 1974-1976 cinematic trilogy began with Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, which set up the new Godzilla as a powerful new defender in place of the original. He was pitted against an alien cyborg, tasked with destroying the world. The follow-up, 1975’s Terror of Mechagodzilla, saw the mechanical monster reinforced by a new, even stronger tyrant, the prehistoric Titan King Ghidorah. Finally, the culmination of the arc was seen in The Return of Godzilla, in which Godzilla successfully defended the Earth from both the robotic creation and its winged god-like overseer.
Fast-forward to the Reiwa arc and the events of 2022-2024. The same kind of complex cinematic storytelling was revisited with the films Godzilla vs. Kong, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Godzilla vs. Mecha-King Ghidorah. Again, Godzilla was pitted against formidable foes in order to protect the planet: Vogon robots, giant mutant creatures, and alien adversaries.
The similarities between these two trilogies are clear. Both followed a similar structure, a classic monster of the week type, where a problem is set up and solved through the course of the films. And the solutions, at least in the most recent story arc, involved wonderfully over-the-top action scenes with glimpses through a combination of a mix of technology, magic, and horror elements.
What’s more, this gives fans a chance to see a deeper connection between these two eras of the Godzilla franchise and gain a better understanding of why the filmmakers are so keen to bring back these particular characters and plot points. Essentially, history has repeated itself and should continue to do so as the Reiwa era continues with respect to storytelling.
Whether this repeated storyline will bring more success to the franchise remains to be seen. However, what is certain is that Godzilla fans have something to look forward to in the next few years as the franchise once again pays tribute to the Toho legacy and continues to bring these unique, shared stories to life.