The story of Godzilla is a story that has been told numerous times by a wide variety of filmmakers from a wide variety of cultures. One of the most notorious Godzilla stories ever committed to film is Roland Emmerich's 1998 take on the giant reptile, which has since gone on to become known as one of the worst cinematic versions of Godzilla ever. On that note, Godzilla writer and producer Dean Devlin recently opened up and admitted that he thinks a significant reason Godzilla failed to make an impression on audiences was the attempt to imbue the lizard with moral ambiguity. Devlin explained:
Roland and I made an intellectual idea that was interesting but not compelling filmmaking. We said in real life, a lizard is neither evil nor good, it's just a lizard. So what if one got to that size and in its effort to survive, it threatened us, but it wasn't mad at us? It was just simply doing what it did and it causes this problem for us. Well, that's interesting, but that's not Godzilla. If you go to the very first movie, Gojira, it was an evil monster. Movies after that, it was a hero. We didn't choose either.
There's definitely an attempt at something interesting and different for the Godzilla franchise in Dean Devlin's remarks to Syfy Wire. As the Geostorm director explained, while most incarnations of Godzilla are framed as hero or villain, the 1998 film did something different by steering clear of those ideas and treating Godzilla like an animal. In the end, audiences didn't respond to it, and a smart idea proved to be the film's downfall.
The failure of Godzilla has become well-known among many fans of the monster movie genre. The film only earned $136 million domestically against a $130 million production budget, and it was universally panned by critics, ranking at 12% on Rotten Tomatoes. Now we're left to wonder what could've been with a more traditional hero or villain take on the giant lizard.
Of course, the perceived failure of the 1998 Godzilla movie has not prevented Hollywood from returning to that iconic well to try again. The fire-breathing lizard returned to the big screen in 2014 with Gareth Edwards Godzilla, and that film kicked off the current MonsterVerse that continued with the premiere of Kong: Skull Island last year. Next on deck is Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and what we know about Michael Dougherty's sequel to Gareth Edwards' film tells us that the franchise will once again frame Godzilla as a hero when Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah appear.
CinemaBlend will keep you posted with updates related to the future of Godzilla on the big screen as more information related to the iconic monster becomes available to us. Make sure to catch Godzilla: King of the Monsters next year when the next MonsterVerse entry debuts on May 31, 2019! As for the rest of this year, you can check out our movie premiere guide to see what films are coming to theaters in 2018!