Godzilla is a survivor.
Debuting back in 1954, there have been multiple Godzilla eras, ranging from Showa and going all the way up to today's modern Reiwa Era, which includes the terrifying (and yet hilarious) Shin Godzilla.
But that's just the Toho movies. We've also gotten the American films, such as the (don't you dare pretend it doesn't exist!) Roland Emmerich Godzilla (which even its own producer considers a flop), as well as the mostly well-received MonsterVerse franchise. But which era is the best for the King of the Monsters? Well, you're about to find out.
5. Reiwa Era (2016-Present)
Now don't get me wrong, I give a lot of credit to the modern Reiwa Era, especially since a great deal of it has been animated projects. But like I said in my Godzilla: Singular Point article, some of it just doesn't work.
For example, take the three animated films, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle and Godzilla: The Planet Eater. Each of them move at a glacial pace, and the conclusion of the trilogy was arguably not worth the tedium it took to watch the first two films. As I already mentioned, the anime series, Godzilla: Singular Point, which I initially had high hopes for, was kind of disappointing, and while Shin Godzilla had its moments, one good movie does not an era make.
We shall see how Godzilla Minus One, which has an amazing trailer, fares. So far though, I would consider the Reiwa era to be Godzilla's weakest period. It's a shame, really, since I can't fault it for trying something new.
4. Millennium Era (1999-2004)
Depending on whom you ask, the Millennium Era, which began with Godzilla 2000: Millennium and ended with the absolutely insane Godzilla: Final Wars, is either one of the best eras of Godzilla or one of the absolute worst. Personally, I consider it a mixed bag, as we definitely got some winners in there (I’m actually a huge fan of Final Wars), and Godzilla Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack are excellent. But there are also some not-so-great Godzilla movies in there, too, like Godzilla 2000: Millennium and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus.
It doesn’t help that almost all of the films (besides Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla Tokyo: S.O.S.) are standalone films that only have the original movie as a form of continuation. In that way, what really makes the Millennium Era stand out, for both good and bad, is the lack of consistency.
This is the era where I don’t feel committed to spending an entire day (which is probably for the best) just vegging out and watching multiple Godzilla movies in a row, and will instead just occasionally watch one of them and call it a day. Honestly, besides Godzilla: Final Wars, which I always like to watch, I have to really be in the mood for the other Millennium Era films.
3. The MonsterVerse (2014-Present)
Some may not appreciate that I’m putting the Legendary MonsterVerse movies over the Toho Co. productions, but I can definitely explain. I’ve already written about how I think the MonsterVerse is the best shared universe we currently have, and I stand behind that comment.
Sure, some of the MonsterVerse films are way better than others, as I’ve ranked all of them, but with only four films at this point in the cycle, I think I prefer it to the so-far lackluster Reiwa Era, and I appreciate that they’re all connected, unlike the lopsided Millennium Era.
And hell, since I will always go to bat for Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla movie (believe it or not, but I actually prefer it to the 2014 Godzilla movie), I will include that in here as well since it’s another American Godzilla flick, even though it’s not connected to the MonsterVerse in any way.
But honestly, I think I may be cheating a little bit since I LOVE the King Kong that the MonsterVerse has provided, and I even prefer Godzilla vs. Kong to the Showa Era’s King Kong vs. Godzilla. So really, King Kong is a deciding factor in my list of the best Godzilla eras. Is it fair? Maybe not, but as a lifelong Godzilla fan, I’m much more excited for the upcoming Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire than I am for Godzilla Minus One. If that doesn’t tell you how I feel about the MonsterVerse, then I don’t know what will.
2. Showa Era (1954-1975)
The longest era of Godzilla is also one of the best. Almost all of Godzilla’s best enemies make appearances in this period (Gigan and King Kong and King Ghidorah, oh my!), and Godzilla goes from being an absolute terror and scourge of humanity, to being a hero who can slide on his tail.
I think most Godzilla diehards will agree that the Showa Era is the most important era when it comes to defining what Godzilla could actually be. But there are just so many bangers in this period that it’s impossible not to put it this close to the top.
I’m talking Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and, of course, the greatest Godzilla movie of them all, the original 1954 Godzilla, which is still terrifying to this very day. I’m always tempted to put the Showa Era at the top, but there is just one era that can’t be beaten when it comes to Godzilla.
1. Hensei Era (1984-1995)
Godzilla fans are usually pretty unanimous on what the best era of Godzilla is, and I’m not even going to challenge it. The Hensei Era, which started with maybe my second favorite Godzilla movie, The Return of Godzilla (I just love Godzilla as a terror, you see), also has the best arc for Godzilla, culminating in the really sad “death” of Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
But, what makes this period so special is just what it did to the Godzilla universe in general. Not only did it have interesting changes to characters we were already familiar with through the Showa Era, like Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla, but it also added brand new, interesting ones, like Biollante, SpaceGodzilla and the aforementioned Destoroyah. All of these characters are now seen as integral villains of Godzilla, and the stories surrounding them are usually pretty interesting. Yes, it’s not a perfect period, but when it comes to all five eras of Godzilla, it’s the closest to being perfect.
And that’s the list. Are you also a Godzilla fan? Would you put the Millennium Era higher? (One of my friends says it’s his favorite era of Godzilla!) For more news on all things concerning the King of the Monsters, make sure to swing around here often!