The New Empire Fits Right In With The Showa Era Of Monster Movies


Jet Jaguar, as Godzilla fans may know, was conceived of by a young Godzilla fan who offered robot designs to Toho as part of a sweepstakes. Jet Jaguar was altered greatly from its original designs, but it remains an artifact of fanfic-like contributions. By the time Jet Jaguar has Megalon in a headlock and Godzilla gives a flying kick to his abdomen, any thematic notions of nuclear annihilation or the Japanese national character have fallen away. As of now, we’re just here for the monster mayhem. 

“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” is also here just for monster mayhem. Wingard is not making a comment on America’s politics, the nuclear bomb, or the overwhelming awesomeness of natural disasters. It’s all about the status quo, baby. Wingard just wants King Kong to pick up a smaller ape and use him as a club to beat another ape in the head. “GxK” isn’t so much a reflection of the whole Showa era, but the Jun Fukuda films in particular. His use of Mechagodzilla in “Godzilla vs. Kong” bears this out.

Of course, Toho returned to silliness frequently for years thereafter. The series rebooted in 1984, the beginning of the Heisei era. By 1991, Kazui Omori’s “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah” was released, and that film features time travel, a mechanical Ghidorah, and the deliberate creation of Godzilla by human hands. The G-man was literally free of his wartime origins, now serving as an instrument of justice. The Heisei era was rarely somber, even when Godzilla died in “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” in 1995. Even several of the films in the Millennium era — “Godzilla vs. Megaguirus” and “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” in particular — were more about amazing monster fight choreography than plot or theme. 

“Godzilla x Kong” is just following that tradition.

A couple of /Film’s editors had a spoiler-filled discussion about the movie on today’s episode of the /Film Daily podcast, which you can listen to below:

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