Alternate Title: The start of the shared universe
So, you know how the Marvel Cinematic Universe is kind of a thing? Notable in that all the stories impact each other, and the characters intersect much in the same way they do in comics? Toho’s announced that, starting whenever they start making these movies in sequence again, they’re wanting to use a similar model for Godzilla films. Which is a little strange to me. Because they totally did that already. 40-some years before the Marvel films started having Agent Coulson hanging around.
So, there was a big gap in between the second and third Godzilla films. Of like seven years or so. But Toho wasn’t done with giant monsters in that meanwhile. In fact, they made a whole bunch of kaiju films after Godzilla gave that genre a jump start. And King Kong vs. Godzilla, being the most successful film in the Godzilla franchise, it made a buck or two. And Mr. Toho, he thought to himself, “I sure like having dollars. Maybe I should make another movie so I can get another dollar.” But how do you follow up on a clash of two of cinema’s greatest titans, crossing over from disparate universes? Well, you just do it again. Except you go back into one of the worlds you already own, so you don’t have to pay those crazy huge King Kong licensing fees. And wouldn’t you know it, you just had a really successful and well-received movie just a few years before. Maybe you could cross that over with your marquee guy.
And that’s how we ended up with Mothra vs. Godzilla, a sequel to both 1961’s Mothra and 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla. And in so doing, Tojo tied all their Kaiju films of the era together into one continuous universe. You start seeing monsters cross over in each others films, Godzilla himself gets a few recurring enemies that started in other movies, and you’ll even get a few films centered not on individual monsters but the people living within them, such as Destroy All Monsters, which we’ll be getting to in a few of these posts.
This is also regarded as one of the best movies of the Showa era, thus proving this was a concept with some real mileage. So no wonder they’d get some mileage out of it.
Note that this is not Godzilla vs. Mothra. That is a very different movie. Yes, the Godzilla franchise sucks at titles. Kind of an easy way of remembering it is that this move was made when Godzilla was undisputedly the bad guy. So Mothra, the heroine, gets top billing. As opposed to Godzilla vs Mothra, which was made when Godzilla was only sometimes the bad guy, so you could still cheer for him. So he gets top billing then. See, simple.