The Godzilla film series, a series that has endured for over half a century, has become one of the most popular franchises in history.
The films initially began in Japan through Toho, a Japanese film production company.
There are 4 Japanese eras of the film and 1 American era known as MonsterVerse. Keep reading to learn more about the different eras and movies within the series.
If you haven’t seen the Godzilla film series now, you’re sure to by the end of this!
1. Shōwa Toho era (1954–1975)
The first era of the Godzilla film series is Toho’s Shōwa era, spanning over 50 years (1954–1975) and creating 15 films.
The era was named after the “Shōwa” period in Japan, as all the following films were produced before Japanese emperor Hirohito’s death in 1989. Through the era, we can see an evolution in the Godzilla character.
The first few films depict him as destructive during his reign of terror. However, over a few more films, the initial fear surpasses when we get to “Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster”. This movie shows Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra teaming up to help SAVE mankind.
This Godzilla movie made many fans view him as a heroic figure rather than a villain, which continued throughout the era until the final film. Being the first part of the Godzilla film series, movies from the era set up for more Godzilla appearances in the future and changed cinematographic history forever.
Films in this era of the Godzilla film series: Godzilla (1954), Godzilla Raids Again (1955), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster (1964), Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965), Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), Son of Godzilla (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), All Monsters Attack (1969), Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971), Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla(1974), Terror of MechaGodzilla (1975)
2. Heisei Toho era (1984–1995)
While we saw more positivity in Godzilla during the Shōwa era, Godzilla film series from this era try to return to the antagonist that Godzilla started as.
“The Return of Godzilla” once again turns Godzilla into a destructive character that he started as, since the era is a sequel to only the original Godzilla film from 1954, ignoring events that took place during the Shōwa era.
The films from the era were a lot more serious than the previous ones, commenting on issues as diverse as genetic engineering to environmentalism. The era also provides more of a backstory to the Godzilla character, such as in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, explaining the nuclear radiation that created him. While the film generally ignores the movies from the Shōwa era, many allies and enemies return during films from the Heisei era.
Films in this era of the Godzilla film series: The Return of Godzilla (1984), Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II (1993), Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994), Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
3. American Monsterverse era (1998-present)
There have been many attempts for a successful American version of the Godzilla films, and they finally found success with the Monsterverse series which is the latest among the Godzilla film series.
There are 4 relevant American movies in the Godzilla film series, and here they are.
4. Godzilla (1998)
While this movie is considered a flop in the Godzilla film series, we had to include it as the main starting point for America’s series.
It doesn’t connect with any of the Japanese films or later American films and follows its own plotline where Godzilla rampaged through New York City, causing humans to team up to save the planet from his destruction.
5. Godzilla (2014)
As the first film in the MonsterVerse series among the Godzilla film series, this movie acts as a starting point for the following movies.
We watch as humans find evidence of Godzilla-like creatures, allowing them to rise to Earth and begin their mission for destruction. This pushes Godzilla to rise to stop them and save the planet.
6. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
Taking place half a decade after the previous film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters acts as the American reboot for Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.
Godzilla fights against the destruction that King Ghidorah attempts to cause.
7. Godzilla vs Kong (2021)
The most recent in the Godzilla film series is Godzilla vs. Kong, released in 2021. This film also acts as a reboot of the original 1962 version, King Kong vs. Godzilla. Godzilla turns against the humans he’s been known to protect, causing the introduction of Kong to fight him.
8. Millennium Toho era (1999–2004)
During the Monsterverse era, Toho continued with their own Godzilla film series following the Heisei era. Unlike the Heisei and Shōwa eras, there is fairly less continuity between films in the Millennium era. Godzilla’s character is close to the villain recreated during the Heisei period.
Every movie in the era ignores all movies before and during the era, barring the original 1954 movie. The following is an explanation of each film in the Millennium Toho era of the Godzilla film series.
9. Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)
Directed by Takao Okawara, this film is the first of the Millennium era of the Godzilla film series.
The film revolves around the introduction of the “Godzilla Prediction Network”, a network that can anticipate Godzilla’s movements.
Meanwhile, a UFO that’s been undiscovered for several mega annum, is fighting against Godzilla. We watch as Godzilla makes its return to the screens, kicking off the Millennium era.
10. Godzilla vs Megaguirus (2000)
This movie introduces the character ‘Megaguirus’, a giant dragonfly gremlin who’s able to drain its opponent’s energy, and has Godzilla as her target.
The creature is introduced to the world after a failed experimental anti-Godzilla that created miniature black holes, allowing a prehistoric dragonfly to enter and lay the egg that hatched Megaguirus.
This Godzilla movie ignored the events of the previous one in the era as well, and we follow the fight between Godzilla and Megaguirus till the end.
11. Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
This Godzilla movie begins with Japan’s preparations for another attack from Godzilla, however, all three creatures start with their individual attacks against the city before going after each other.
During the movie, scientists also discover the reason for Godzilla’s rage, which is that he has been possessed by Japanese soldiers of WWII. Directed by Shusuke Kaneko, this movie received a 7.1 IMDB rating.
12. Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002)
Controlled by human scientists is MechaGodzilla, a cyborg Godzilla created from the 1954 version’s skeleton.
Using a remote control, MechaGodzilla is sent against Godzilla, initiating a fight between the two visions that keep us on the edge of our seats!
13. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. is the first movie from the era that picks up from the previous Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla rather than the 1954 version only.
After the previous battle left MechaGodzilla damaged, the Japan Self Defense Force plans to pit Mothra against Godzilla to continue the mission for his destruction.
14. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
The final movie in the Millennium era is Godzilla: Final Wars, released on 27 November 2004. We watch as characters from throughout the franchise return to cause mass destruction around the world.
These scenes leave us asking, can Godzilla save the world? We watch as we await his return to help control the destruction. If you want to know if he was successful, you’re going to have to check out this film from the Godzilla film series!
15. Reiwa Toho era (2016–present)
We’ve finally reached the last era of the Godzilla movies, the Reiwa era, starting in 2016 continuing to today. These films run at the same time as the MonsterVerse series, however are generally separate.
Similar to the previous era’s, most movies follow the pattern of building off from the original film. Here are the 4 released movies of this era of the Godzilla film series!
16. Shin Godzilla (2016)
As the first film among this era of Godzilla film series, this film reboots the series, creating a more modern origin for Godzilla, known to be inspired by the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
In this origin, he serves as an indictment of government inaction and inefficiency. He also gains different powers, such as the ability to gain strength from attacks against him.
17. Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017) is the first animated film in the Godzilla film series.
The film is set in the future, after humans abandoned Godzilla on Earth, planning a return to their home planet to destroy Godzilla once and for all.
The end allows a continuity with the next film, leaving viewers begging for more.
18. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)
Following the previous film, colonists regroup after their attacks at the end of the last movie and discover the factory used to create the MechaGodzilla.
After recreating the monster using a living host and nanometal, humans realize that they have created a bigger threat than Godzilla itself, leading straight into the next film in the Planet of the Monsters trilogy during the Godzilla film series.
19. Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
The final released Godzilla movie of the Toho era is Godzilla: The Planet Eater, which is also the last movie in the Planet of the Monsters trilogy.
It wraps up the destruction introduced by the first two films, introducing the new ideology that Godzilla and humankind can simply co-exist peacefully together!
And there we have it! All of the Godzilla film series and eras to date. Both Toho and the MonsterVerse creators plan to release more films in the coming years, which gives us plenty of time to rewatch these films so we can be ready!
However, as you may have noticed, the primary movie to watch is the original 1954 Godzilla, as this is the base for almost all the movies in the series. Do check these Godzilla film series out if you haven’t already!
If you have, comment below on your favorite Godzilla movie from the Godzilla film series! Also, like and share this list of the Godzilla Film Series with others.