RJDiogenes, on 31 July 2018 - 05:18 PM, said:
What bothers me, of course, is that Godzilla was a metaphor for atomic destruction. If they need a metaphor for environmental destruction, they should create a new monster.
Godzilla and other kaiju have been metaphors for environmental destruction many times over the history of the franchise. It's been around for 64 years and 9 different continuities in Japan alone, so of course the kaiju have served all sorts of different allegorical goals, some of them directly opposed to each other. (For instance, in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah
, Godzilla -- who'd been a deadly threat to Japan in the previous two movies -- was suddenly portrayed as Japan's spiritual protector who'd helped save a band of Japanese soldiers from Americans in WWII; yet a decade later in Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
, Godzilla was possessed by the spirits of Imperial Japan's victims and was coming to take vengeance on Japan for its crimes.) Anti-pollution messages were also quite common in the Godzilla films of the late '60s and '70s, most obviously in Godzilla vs. Hedorah
, aka Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster
. Environmentalist themes were common in the Heisei-series ('80s-'90s) films as well; for instance, the latter kaiju in Godzilla vs. Biollante
was an allegory for the supposed dangers of genetic engineering.
Indeed, while Godzilla started out as an allegory for the threat of nuclear weapons
, he was often later portrayed as an allegory for the public's fears of nuclear power
, which is very much an environmentalist theme. The Heisei-era films played up this angle heavily, adding the concept that Godzilla was a living nuclear reactor and fed on fuel from power plants (an idea they cribbed from Gamera, by the way). The final film of that continuity, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah
, had Godzilla's reactor run out of control and threaten a meltdown that would destroy the world. More recently, in Shin Godzilla
, Godzilla was mutated from sea creatures that fed on nuclear waste.
Even the second Godzilla movie, 1955's Godzilla Raids Again
, portrayed Godzilla less as a nuclear allegory and more as an embodiment of the kind of natural disasters that the Japanese people have been dealing with throughout their history -- pretty much exactly as G-Man
said, a massive threat that you could only try to live with while carrying on with your normal life as best you could. (Rodan
from 1956 was also along these lines.) Other films have portrayed Godzilla as an embodiment of nature's power and a humbling reminder that the Earth does not exist merely for humans' benefit; Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II
is a leading example of that theme.
Godzilla is like Batman -- a character that's been repeatedly transformed to be many different, often contradictory things, but has always retained his essential identity nonetheless. That very flexibility is what makes the character so enduring.
Edited by Christopher, 31 July 2018 - 06:53 PM.