A new Godzilla films get us all excited about what will see. As we wait for its release, we often look back and reassess the previous films wondering how the new release will comparing with its predecessors wondering how it will conform and or break with them. Godzilla films can be broadly categorized into two groups, Godzilla as enemy or ally. Legendary’s Godzilla vs Kong has us guessing. However, the enemy category needs further nuancing. In Godzilla’s history, I believe there is only one film since the original release that is the most consequential and that stands out and apart from the others. Unlike the other films in which Godzilla appears as the enemy, Shin Godzilla (2016) represents the most significant and clearest representation of the original meaning and intent of Godzilla since Gojira (1954), in my opinion. Why is this? And why is this important?
I believe the answer to both these questions is found in how Shin Godzilla spoke to the issues of its time as the original film had done in its context. Shodai Godzilla and Shin Godzilla represented and addressed the issues facing Japan and the world in the most provoking and powerful ways. in 1954, Japan, only nine years removed from World War II, was grappling with nuclear proliferation. Shodai Godzilla spoke to that situation. In 2016, Japan, only five years removed from the Great Japan Earthquake (3/11/2011) and the meltdown of the Daiichi Nuclear Power in Fukushima, was grappling with its longterm consequences and cleanup. Shin Godzilla resonated with its audiences and stands today as the monster’s most significant return since the first film. In both years and contexts, Godzilla was a metaphor for and a representation of the existential threat facing Japan and the world. Audiences good think through how it responded to their situations as the film’s characters faced off with Godzilla. This Godzilla is what the world needs now
This Godzilla is worth remembering and is worthy of our contemplation and conviction. This Godzilla challenges our propensity to war and our failure in stopping nuclear proliferation. This Godzilla calls us to care for our most vulnerable populations rather than sacrifice them to save ourselves. This Godzilla is our victims both human and non-human. I believe Godzilla vs Kong will be entertaining. A film’s entertainment value is important. A good film gives us that needed distraction from the troubles of the world. But the Godzilla that impact the world is more than just entertainment. This Godzilla leaves a powerful message for humanity in his wake. Will this Godzilla appear in Godzilla vs Kong ? Will this new film speak pointedly and powerfully to the social, political and existential issues facing the world? Will it have a message that challenges us? Several days ago, 10 years after the 3/11, Japan was hit again by 7.1 magnitude earth off of Fukushima, causing an already damaged reactor to leak again. Since 2020, the world has been on fire fighting COVID-19, sheltering from climate change, facing economic downturn and despair, and preoccupied with political upheaval and social unrest. We need this Godzilla more than ever.