How the Millennium Era Saved Godzilla
In 1998, the US tried their hand at making a Godzilla movie. To put it bluntly, it sucked….a lot. The film failed from beginning to end from the decision to change the origin and character to not even including more kaiju. This came only a few years after Japan decided to retire the character following the Heisei Era’s closing.
Upon receiving the news of the poor box office performance, Japan scrambled to save the reputation the King of the Monsters worked so hard to earn. Taking him out of retirement earlier than expected, Godzilla returned in Godzilla 2000. For many, the US audience that saw this film thought it was a sequel to the newly released western version. Instead, this take was an entirely standalone adventure that featured a redesigned Godzilla.
The Millennium Era is best known for having mostly standalone films, with the exception of one or two additions. While some films were complete successes, others were seen as fine or serviceable. One of the biggest highlights was the incredibly long titled Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Much like the title would suggest, the film was a simple sandbox kaiju battle royale and was a delight for fans, new and old.
The only two films in this era that were connected were Godzilla against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla Tokyo S.O.S. The former featured a brand new version of Mechagodzilla that brought in yet another design of the mechanical kaiju, this time created with the original 1954 Godzilla’s bones. Tokyo S.O.S was the second film in what would be dubbed the Kiryu saga and, much like the others that came before, was yet another fun monster beat-em-up.
The final film in the Millennium Era was Godzilla Final Wars. In many ways, including the title, the film felt like a final bow for the era born out of failure. In the film, Godzilla was pitted against many monsters from his past and, in a moment of poetic irony, takes on the US version of the creature, named Zilla. The fight only lasts a few seconds before the OG Godzilla destroys the other with his atomic breath. Final Wars felt like a fun conclusion to the era that is still looked back on with find memories.
The Millennium Era wasn’t the most memorable, nor was it the longest. However, it had the most important job of all the eras. With the American version failing as badly as it had the heads at Toho, the studio that created the character had to bring the positive buzz back to the character.
While there wasn’t much in the way of continuity, the Millennium Era took the best things about the character and concentrated them into a handful of films. From giant minster free-for-alls to lessons about the dangers humanity brings to the world, the Millennium Era had it all. Not all of them were massive successes, but they all did their best to reinvigorate the essence of Godzilla. Considering where the franchise ended up a few years later, it’s safe to say they were victorious in their efforts.
Thanks for reading everyone and please check out my rundown of Godzilla’s Showa Era and Heisei Era! I am still trying to figure things out scheduling wise but I am getting there! Thank you for the patience and support! We also have a new episode of our podcast, The Next Panel with Nick and Jake, up so make sure to give it a listen while you read! Stay Safe Stay Happy and Stay Fresh!