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Why Godzilla Will Always Be the King of the Monsters, Despite Box Office Struggles

Why Godzilla Will Always Be the King of the Monsters, Despite Box Office Struggles

Scified2019-12-19 16:08:13
3,544 Reads2 Upvotes8 CommentsAdd A Comment+ Upvote

Godzilla is one of the greatest characters in the world. Yet, despite his worldwide fame the franchise is not talked about the same way as series like Star Wars or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The final box office tallies for Godzilla: King of the Monsters should be respectable at $382.1 million. Yet, the film cost $170 million to make and expectations were that it would match the nearly $530 million gross of its predecessor. It’s not a flop, but it’s not the sort of success Legendary Pictures or Warner Bros. hoped for. Similarly, critics panned the film despite it working very hard to create the kind of mythology that underscores the best cinematic universes. Luckily, if critics and even studios don’t quite understand Godzilla, they will never stop making movies about him. He is the king.

What Makes Godzilla So Popular Even If Individual Movies “Fail?”

For more than 65 years, people have been telling stories about this nuclear-powered creature from the deep. Call him “Kaiju,” “Titan,” or, simply, “Monster,” every Godzilla story springs from the same foundation. Something happens that brings him forth from the depths of the ocean, and Godzilla proceeds to wreak havoc on it. Sometimes, Godzilla is awakened to fight other creatures like him. In these stories, he’s a defender of humanity. In others, humanity is the problem and Godzilla punishes the cities of humans with wanton destruction. At their core, Godzilla fans want to see one thing: the monster kicking ass. However, to say that is all fans want is unfair, just like it’s unfair for someone like Martin Scorsese to say that Marvel movies aren’t cinema. The action is fun, sure. But what keeps us coming back again and again are the stories themselves.

This is why Godzilla will always be the king of this genre. Whether it’s Pacific Rim or Cloverfield, any other giant monster movie is just a copy of the Godzilla mythos. The edge Godzilla has over his competitors is that he’s been around long enough that the legend feels like a real legend. Audiences have a familiarity with Godzilla that ensures they will give each iteration of the character a shot. Even though visual effects are better and more realistic than they’ve ever been, audiences are still waiting for a CGI Godzilla that lives up to their childhood memories of the guy in the rubber suit. In fact, if they can do anything to improve the future iterations of Godzilla it’s to focus less on his animal side and more on his human one. And that will take more than just clever motion-capture technology.

The Window to Godzilla’s Soul

For almost all Godzilla fans, the first time they saw him was usually in one of the rubber-suit films. If you are young enough, the king of all monsters looks both scary and adorable. While the iconic Godzilla grin plays a big part in that, the secret lies in the eyes. All of the CGI versions of Godzilla feature eyes on the side of his head. The rubber suit versions have more human eyes, and that makes all the difference. To go back to Star Wars, one of the things that made Chewbacca universally beloved and Ewoks not so much are their eyes. While the early Ewoks had black, unblinking orbs for eyes, Chewbacca’s eyes were that of the late Peter Mayhew. Now, Godzilla would not work with fully human eyes like that. Yet, the human-ish eyes found on the rubber suits make it easier for fans (especially kids) to sympathize and connect with the creature.

Still, there is plenty of time to get it right. Even without beating the box office gross of its predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is still the second-highest grossing Godzilla movie ever. They are telling a new and interesting story about the character. Audiences will connect with this newest version of Godzilla, if they can just look him in the eyes.

How important do you think the eyes are to the character of Godzilla? Which version is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below.

Written by ChrisPublished on 2019-12-19 16:08:13
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8 Fan responses to Why Godzilla Will Always Be the King of the Monsters, Despite Box Office Struggles


Dec-19-2019 11:28 PM

It is interesting about the eyes. Indeed, the eyes of the practical guy in a suit were very expressive and that made for a human connection as stated in the OP. The KOTM doesn't have that, but Godzilla seems more intimidating with dark or expressionless eyes- yet the same connection we had as kids is still there. I think it has to do with technology. The expressive eyes may be gone, but the CGI/mocap movements along with a dramatic soundtrack seem just as expressive. That said, it would be interesting if GvK brings more attention to the eyes, but I kind of doubt it will happen.


Dec-20-2019 2:44 AM

I find human eyes on a reptile very disturbing or on any animal that isn't a human. As a Kid I grew up with Jurassic Park and I always loved the dinosaurs in that movie regardless of their eye designs. Its probably why cartoon animals disturb me with their human eyes especially Disney Cartoon animals, while in anime the animals are drawn with proper animal eyes unless they are certain pokemon.


Dec-20-2019 10:11 AM

I honestly hope they give the King some more expressive eyes, because that would help the mainstream relate to him more like they did Kong. Just changing the eyes alone would make him much more easy to relate to for the mainstream and give him a sense of character. It's part of the reason why so many people prefer Skull Island instead of KOTM, because you could see what Kong as feeling through his body language and, more importantly, through his eyes. I don't think we'd see it in GVK, but maybe if the Monsterverse makes more movies afterwards, maybe the one after it? They almost got it right in KOTM, but still not quite there yet. Maybe we'll see it in World Of Godzilla, if that becomes a thing.


Dec-20-2019 10:54 AM

This was a pleasure to read. Merry christmas, everyone.


Dec-20-2019 2:32 PM

And that is why I truly love Godzilla.

This was a nice article. Nice job. :)


Dec-21-2019 12:58 AM

As for sales, it is amazing that the franchise continues to put out decent theatrical movies for this long despite never really hitting block buster level profits. Besides possibly King Kong, I cannot think of another monster movie that has been around for more than half a century yet keeps enough butts in seats to stay afloat.


Dec-24-2019 7:10 AM

Merry Christmas ya'll ! 

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