Last weekend, Godzilla: King of the Monsters arrived in theaters and it didn't quite live up to some critics' expectations. The film received middling reviews, and the main point of criticism revolved around the convoluted plot and one-dimensional characters. If you are a Godzilla fan, this might strike you as odd — not because the criticism is unfounded, but because ridiculous plots are nothing new to Godzilla.
Anyone can tell you that the main draw of a Godzilla movie are the monster fights, so it's only natural that everything else comes second. However, while these plots aren't necessarily "good," they are incredibly silly; like aliens and giant robot clones-level of silly. That level of ridiculousness has its charms and it can be really fun to watch, but King of the Monsters' plot is tame by comparison.
Yes, the plot in King of the Monsters drags, but it's weird that it's getting so much attention when the whole point is that Godzilla teams up with a moth to fight a three-headed space dragon. Let's take a walk through Godzilla history and see how bonkers these movies can really get.
A TV Show Makes Godzilla Fight King Kong For Ratings
Next year we'll get Godzilla vs Kong, but there's little chance the film will follow the plot of its 1962 original, King Kong vs Godzilla. In the film, a pharmaceutical company is upset about the performance of a TV show it's sponsoring. In order to boost ratings, the company decides to kidnap King Kong from his island and make him fight a recently returned Godzilla.
It's tough to see how this would boost ratings for anything on TV that wasn't the news, but the silliness doesn't stop there. Kong is capable of getting strength from lightning for some reason. To get him to the final fight, Kong is drugged and transported via balloons. They literally tied a bunch of balloons to him and let him drift away. Then when it's all said and done after the fight is over, Kong just swims home like it's no big deal.
Godzilla Raises His Son For 86 Minutes
I'm exaggerating about the length, but there is a movie in which Godzilla adopts a baby and teaches him how to be a monster. This was during a period in which Godzilla movies were targeted for younger audiences, so they were sillier. In the film, Son of Godzilla, a bunch of scientists building a weather controlling machine (because of course) are attacked by giant praying mantises (because OF COURSE).
The attack reveals a buried giant egg, which births a baby Godzilla. The baby, later named Minilla, telepathically summons Godzilla. The Kaiju takes his mini-me under his wing, teaching him how to roar and fire atomic breath. It's all very cute and it was certainly a new look for the rampaging Godzilla. Minilla would show up in a few other films, notably helping a human boy stand up to bullies, which is a whole other thing.
Mothra's Entourage Are One-Inch Tall
Mothra is one of the most iconic Kaiju in the Godzilla franchise, but it wasn't often that she made an appearance without her priestesses. The two women were sort of the attendants of Mothra, looking over her egg and communicating her thoughts to humans. Also, they were maybe one-inch tall.
Mothra's priestesses were fairies and they would always appear to humans to let them know that Mothra was on the case. The two act as her proxy warning humans of coming dangers. They also sometimes get kidnapped (due to being one-inch tall), which forces Mothra to come save them. This is super silly and doesn't really fit into the MonsterVerse, but the priestesses did get a nice easter egg in King of the Monsters.
Aliens Trick Godzilla and Rodan Into Fighting Ghidorah In Space
Aliens exist in the Godzilla franchise. There are a few different species and planets that appear, but the one we are focusing on are the Xiliens from Planet X. In Invasion of Astro-Monster, astronauts discover Planet X, which is being attacked by King Ghidorah. The Xiliens live in fear of Ghidorah and ask to borrow Godzilla and Rodan from Earth in exchange for a cure for cancer. A cure. For. Cancer.
The Earth doesn't own Godzilla and Rodan, but hell yeah, they take that deal. The Xiliens fly over to Earth and send the two kaiju to Planet X. However, it was all a ruse! Using mind control, the Xiliens send Godzilla, Rodan and Ghidorah to rampage on Earth. Thankfully, earlier in the film, one of the side characters conveniently invented a device that jams the mind control. Godzilla and Rodan snap out of it and beat Ghidorah so bad he leaves the planet. This isn't even going into the human storyline, which features double agents and star-crossed lovers.
Mech-King Ghidorah Time Travels To The Past To Kill Godzilla And Japan
Godzilla movies can get kind of complicated and nothing makes things easier to understand than time travel. 1991's Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah might be one of the most convoluted Godzilla movies. In the film, time travelers calling themselves the Futurians travel back to present-day (circa 1991) Japan from the year 2204. They claim that Godzilla destroyed Japan in the future and take a group of present day scientists (and a science-fiction writer) to 1944 to stop the creation of Godzilla.
Well, they end up accidentally creating the second Godzilla (the original Godzilla died in his very first movie, and all the subsequent movies follow a different Godzilla), but purposefully create King Ghidorah. Turns out the Futurians lied and Japan is actually a world superpower in the future. They created Ghidorah to destroy Japan and claim power for themselves. Godzilla beats up Ghidorah, but the Futurians bring the cybernetic Mecha-King Ghidorah from the future to finish the job. This makes no difference to Godzilla, who still wins and history is more or less intact.
Godzilla movies are best remembered for their title fights or the monsters they introduced. These fights could be campy (it's hard to ignore that these are two men in rubber suits), but they have their charms and it's helped the franchise survive for decades. Comparatively, King of the Monsters is a mostly grounded take on what would happen if giants roamed the Earth.
It's still ridiculous, but it seems like an over-reaction to negatively mark the film for having a dumb plot when Godzilla has such a long history of dumb plots. I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive for better story in Godzilla movies, but it's not like King of the Monsters flew in Godzilla on a bunch of balloons.