Japanese production/distribution company Toho, the original home of Godzilla, is planning its own cinematic universe. The House of Godzilla struck a deal with Warner Bros. and Legendary that stunted them from making Godzilla films until 2021.
However, Toho’s Keiji Ota told Nikkei Style that “after 2021, we’re thinking of a potential strategy that [releases] Godzilla movies uninterrupted at a rate of every 2 years, although there is a preference for a yearly pace as well.” Adding that “The future of the series and its forwarding developments are very conscious of the method of “shared universe”. Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, etc. could all share a single worldview much like a Marvel movie where Iron Man and the Hulk can crossover with each other.”
But just what would a Godzilla Cinematic Universe look like?
Now for those who are okay with shared universes, this is actually good news. The original Toho films almost felt like crossover events similar to the Avengers films (but with kaijus instead of superheroes). However, this is bad news for fans of Shin Godzilla, as it means a sequel is now unlikely to happen. Ota explained, “Shin Godzilla was a huge hit, but instead of thinking of doing the obvious idea of making a Shin Godzilla 2, instead think about a world that can be used for a long time. I’d rather make a World of Godzilla.”
First off, details are still scare considering Ota would need to wait until at least 2021 to pursue production on any number of new Godzilla films that feature other of the famous kaijus, but if we look at any shared cinematic universe such as the MCU or DCEU, it becomes apparent they would need to introduce each of the world’s iconic kaijus one by one before overlapping them. Now whether or not Shin Godzilla counts as Godzilla proper within this new cinematic universe or not remains open but consider they started over, crafting a world they feel could hint at larger, different creatures. Mothra and Rodan seem like obvious sequels before starting to introduce nemesis’s like King Ghidorah or Mechagodzilla into the fray.
However, aren’t we getting into cinematic universe fatigue at this point? For every MCU or DCEU that succeeds in one aspect or another, there seems to be three or four that fail. Think: Power Rangers proposed 9 film franchise or Guy Ritchie’s numerous King Arthur movies which would have covered each of the Knights of the Round Table starring in their own solo movie. When it comes to Godzilla there is one benefit to this and that’s precedence. These movies have existed for the better part of 60 years now, often including multiple kaijus and recurring characters across numerous entries.
The landscape of movie making has changed, films like Avengers: Endgame and the latest Star Wars spinoffs have made sure that films are now greenlit on their potential to become IP’s with multi-platform tiers of advertising and sequel/spinoff potential. The old Godzilla films such as Godzilla Vs. Mothra, for instance, have less in common with Disney’s gargantuan serialization of storytelling and more with the fun matinee tropes of old Universal monster movies, like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943). This sort of precedence at least builds in a cultural memento mori for these kinds of films lacking in other properties such as the ones mentioned above.
In the end, Godzilla could easily succeed as a shared cinematic universe and with its original creator, Toho, behind the scenes it would at least mean it’s being kept in the family with a quintessential Japanese touch to its making. Come 2021 we will already have both the sequel to Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters as well as their own crossover event film Kong Vs. Godzilla so Toho could very well operate outside of the big Hollywood system. Expect Toho to follow the model of current big-budget, blockbuster storytelling that falls more in line with the Avengers than it does with classic Gojira from his golden years.
Images: Toho, Legendary, Warner Bros.