Are We Witnessing a Kaiju Comeback?

September 18th, 2015 by Dan

Title: Are We Witnessing a Kaiju Comeback?

If there’s one thing that holds true in Hollywood, it’s that filmmakers (and the people throwing money at them) can’t help latching on to a trend. Sometimes, it results in seriously great films, like what we’re witnessing with the ridiculous amount of superhero movies this past decade or so. To be fair, it doesn’t always go as planned—must we be reminded of movies like Catwoman, Elektra, The Green Lantern, and the others on HitFlix’s list? But the movie-going public will definitely take the bad with the good, especially when the good is great—the Iron Man series and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, for starters.

And it appears that the latest “trend” just may be the return of the kaiju, a Japanese term for “strange beast” or, in the world of cinema, gigantic monsters hellbent on destroying/sometimes protecting the planet. The best-known of these creatures is, without question, our radioactive lizard-y friend Godzilla. He and his cast of cohorts were brought back to the big screen last year in a rather enjoyable reboot that ended up doing pretty damn well. According to Box Office Mojo’s reports, it raked in more than $500 million on an global scale, easily trumping its budget of $160 million. And sure enough, it’s leading to plenty more action from not just Godzilla but one of his biggest enemies.

Yes, that’s a reference to none other than King Kong. The enormous ape will have his own prequel-ish film in the coming years in Kong: Skull Island while he’s then set to square off (yet again) against Godzilla in the aptly titled King Kong vs. Godzilla. That’s according to an Examiner article, which notes that the fight won’t occur until we see Skull Island and the second Godzilla film from director Gareth Edwards. In the meantime, there’s been some highly intriguing news from the King of the Monsters’ original stomping grounds (and nearby countries).

The first is an animated series that appears to focus on what it would be like if Godzilla aged. Joblo notes that he would affectionately be known as “Oldzilla,” a retired beast who’s trying to go on one final raid before calling it quits. This film isn’t expected to be released until 2018, but that’s fine because there’s the other Godzilla news to discuss. As noted by, Japanese production company TOHO—they created Godzilla, by the way—is working on its first film about the city-destroying creature since 2004. Not bad timing for a guy who’s seemingly become more popular than ever before and created a growing trend in the film industry.

In tracing this kaiju movement, one could argue that it began back in 2005 with the release of Peter Jackson’s quite-good King Kong. The only thing is that there weren’t many Kaiju films released for about eight years or so, which is when Guillermo Del Toro picked up the giant-monster torch and released Pacific Rim. The somewhat-under appreciated film—it has a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes—seems to have truly birthed the return of the kaiju, if only because the beasts played such a pivotal role in the film.

Not only that, but all of the movie’s creatures, from the robots to the monsters, hold an interesting bit of cultural footing in a place you may have least expected. Amid the slots at Gala Casino is a game called Rampage Riches that pretty much takes the Pacific Rim theme (human-controlled robots vs. kaiju) and runs with it in a more animated fashion. And if you think casino games don’t hold weight in this sense, you’ll probably think otherwise when you see titles with themes of Spider-Man, the Avengers, and, yes, King Kong too. Those games typically look to pop culture when it comes to their content, so this bit only confirms the fact that the kaiju are here to stay. And don’t be afraid, because they’re not all looking to destroy everything we hold dear. OK, most of them are, but that’s why Godzilla ends up being the good guy sometimes, right?

What do you, the reader, think about the rise of the kaiju in modern cinema? Send us your thoughts on Twitter.godzilla-1955