5 (Unfortunately) Scrapped Godzilla Projects
August 09, 2015
|As a companion piece to my recent review...|
Filmmaking, from what I've read, is a strange process. People in suits pitch ideas that they think people who maybe don't wear suits will pay money to watch. This leads to lots of writing, folks doing things in front of cameras, computer work, and then a theatrical release. Myriad pictures, though, don't make it past the "man pitching an idea" phase and end up either a memory in the mind of some screenwriter or a rejected script treatment with accompanying concept artwork.
As you can imagine, Godzilla has many such projects, what with his franchise being over sixty years old. Some concepts, such as Godzilla vs. the Devil, were merely tossed out in passing and never even fully considered in detail. Others, like Batman vs. Godzilla, made it to Toho's higher ups before hitting the trash bin. There are, however, some titles that I think should have been made, and it's a damn shame they weren't.
Before we get into this, there's something non-Godzilla folk should know:
Showa Era: The first series of Godzilla films with a very loose, The Evil Dead-ish sense of continuity. It began with the original Godzilla in 1954 and ended with Terror of Mechagodzilla in 1975.
Heisei Era: The rebooted Godzilla series that started in the '80s. The original film remained part of the canon, but everything from Godzilla Raids Again (1956) onward had been retconned, with Return of Godzilla/Godzilla 1985 serving as the beginning of the era. 1995's Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was the final film in this time line.
Millennium Era: The second Godzilla reboot, which began in 1999 with Godzilla 2000 and ended in 2004 with Godzilla: Final Wars. Unlike the previous two series, the movies in this one were not related to one another, except for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS. Each film was non-canon.
So when you hear Showa, Heisei, Millennium, this is what I'm referring to.
Five films caught my interest, and they are:
1. GODZILLA VS. REDMOON
All Earthlings simultaneously dirty their shorts when a new monster flies down from the moon. They quickly name the beast Redmoon and commence their prayers. Around the same time, another potentially threatening kaiju, which they dub Erabus, turns up on a remote island. Brown stains double around the world until a logical resolution occurs to everyone:
The JSDF arranges a meeting between the two behemoths, hopeful that they will either kill each other or that the confrontation will at least leave one of them weak enough for the SDF to finish off. The monsters eventually become aware of one another and charge, claws drawn, fangs bared, muscles tense, ready to......
As it turns out, Redmoon and Erabus are part of a freakishly dimorphic species of kaiju, and opposite sexes to boot. The two of them knock boots, conceive a child, and thus a baby beastie named Hafun is born. The world rejoices!
The two monsters remain seemingly benevolent beings and happy parents until a corrupt prick captures Hafun in an attempt to exploit him for cash via sideshow. Sadly, the infant dies in transport, sending his mommy and daddy into a city-destroying rage. Of course, their venue of choice is Japan... Why would they wreck any other country?
Possibly feeling that his domain has been invaded, Godzilla arrives to quiet the enraged couple, with the unfortunate outcome being that he may have to do so permanently*.
*Pfft, no one permanently dies in the Showa series!
This film was initially supposed to be a collaboration between Toho and its sister studio Tsuburaya, with this flick acting as a 10 year anniversary movie for the latter company. Founder Eiji Tsuburaya, who co-created Godzilla, thought it only fitting to have his most famous creation star in the studio's celebration.
It's not known exactly what transpired, except that the original concept never came to fruition. Tsuburaya reportedly had Toho's blessing, and even some of their talent on board, but unknown issues apparently lead to the movie being heavily altered into what is now known as Daigoro vs. Goliath
, a family-friendly kaiju film about an orphaned monster (Daigoro) who defends the humans who raised him from a bullying beast named Goliath. Tsuburaya modified both Redmoon's and Erabus's suits for this movie, transmuting them into Goliath and Daigoro's mother, respectively.
There isn't much Tsuburaya should have altered about this installment. I am curious to know how they would have handled the "kaiju lovin'," though. Also, what part would the humans have played in this film? Yes, this is important since Godzilla movies revolve around two stories: one involving the monsters, the other involving the humans.
2. Untitled Shusuke Kaneko Godzilla film
(usually referred to as "Godzilla vs. Uchujin" or "Godzilla vs. M")
A Japanese astronaut returns from space, and all he receives as compensation is an extraterrestrial virus. His body begins to mutate and grow, which causes him to flee civilization and live in the forest surround Mt. Fuji as an unwanted freak. Well, this is already starting off upbeat...
His daughter finds him and consoles him. He then runs off again to defend Japan from the newly arrived threat, Godzilla. The two of them brawl, the astronaut loses and nearly dies, and his daughter gives up her life force to revitalize him. He fights Big G one last time, defeats the reptile, then carries him to the depths of the sea, where they both disappear. The moral:
Director Shusuke Kaneko pitched this to Toho after he had been contracted to direct the third Millennium film. Initially, he wanted to do Godzilla vs. Kamacuras
, which would have revived the giant praying mantis from Son of Godzilla
, but changed his mind when he found out the second Millennium movie would feature an insect antagonist. Unfortunately, Godzilla vs. M
, as it's sometimes called, didn't wow Toho execs (who said it was "too depressing"). Kaneko instead did the terrific Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack
, so the absence of vs. M
Though Godzilla vs. M
never materialized, it's probably for the best that it didn't. All Out Attack
was quite successful in Japan and well received for the most part, though it does have its detractors amongst fans. Still, I think the concept of Godzilla fighting a human makes for a more intimate battle, not to mention that a tragic rather than upbeat Godzilla movie would have not only been ballsy, but worthwhile change of mood. It's too bad they didn't just sign on Kaneko for two movies instead...
3. THE REAWAKENING OF GODZILLA
There isn't a whole lot to Reawakening
's story, except that Godzilla fights a new monster called Bagan before perishing at the hands of the JSDF. ***SPOILER that actually isn't a SPOILER*** The would-be movie ends with Godzilla opening his eyes and roaring into the camera.
His freshly contrived opponent was intended to be four monsters in one. In the early phases of the tale, Bagan shifts between an ape-like creature, a fish-like horror, and a dragon-like kaiju. The three-in-one menace battles Big G to a stalemate, mostly because Bagan fully heals himself every time he shifts his shape. At the same time, none of Bagan's forms can handle Godzilla, and he therefore has to sacrifice his healing capabilities for added strength, becoming a hybrid of the three beasts in the end.
Sadly, Toho wasn't done dicking Bagan around. They eventually wrote him out of the final draft of the film, which later became a stand alone Godzilla flick called Godzilla 1985
in the States (it's more commonly referred to as Return of Godzilla
amongst fans these days). After that, they redesigned Bagan, even going so far as to create a 3D model of his suit, and had him attached to two other movies: Godzilla vs. Bagan
and Mothra vs. Bagan
. Both films would be scrapped. To date, the creature's only appearance in a Godzilla-related media was in the SNES game Super Godzilla, where he served as the final boss. Although it sounded like an unfocused reboot, I would love to have seen the ridiculous battle between G and Bagan. Since CG at the time was virtually nonexistent, it would have been interesting to see what Toho would have incorporated into the film to create the shape shifting effect.
4. GODZILLA VS. THE ASUKA FORTRESS
There isn't much known about this movie, or even where it would have fit into any of the canons. All that is known is that it would have been a political film.
You see, Japan's government has a huge falling out over some debate. Butthurt over the dispute, politicians and self-defense force troops start what is believed to be a rogue nation. Where this "Asuka Fortress" fits into this is questionable. Some believe that it may have served as a compound for the rebels, while others believe that it was the name of Godzilla's opponent.
For whatever reason, the new government decides they need to off Godzilla and aim to do so by means of humanoid mech. One can only guess that they aren't successful in the end...
The idea didn't get very far. There's neither concept art nor a script treatment for it, and it's only known because its creator divulged the info on it. To me, it sounds as if Toho borrowed some concepts from this film in the '90s when they produced Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II
, which featured a robot created by G-Force for the purpose of eradicating Godzilla. Though there wasn't a government-splitting dispute, there was a bit of argument amongst G-Force members regarding how Godzilla should be treated. One obviously said to eliminate him while the other vied for a more peaceful solution so he could be studied.
I feel like I'm rolling the dice on this one, since it saw little development, but a political Godzilla movie would have broken the constant string of alien invasion films that the Show era seemed to adore overmuch.
5. THE RETURN OF KING GHIDORAH (SHOWA)
There are two things that I associate with early '70s Toho: 1) ambition, and 2) not having enough budget money to sate said ambition. This is why a lot of late-Showa series Godzilla flicks have stock footage. Take this movie, for instance:
As the story goes, a new race of aliens called Nebula Space Hunter M decide they want to conquer earth. They construct a massive Godzilla Tower as their base of operations, equipped with a mechanism that plays tapes that only kaiju can hear. Using these tapes, Space Hunter summons and takes control of three monsters: the veteran King Ghidorah and his debutant sidekicks, the scythe-handed cyborg Gigan and a dragon-like creature called Mogu.
It turns out humans aren't too keen on being destroyed and invade Godzilla Tower, messing with the tape deck in the process. Their efforts attract the attention of Godzilla, Rodan, and the under-utilized monitor lizard Varan, all three of whom march to Tokyo for a three-on-three beatdown.
As I stated before, Toho didn't have the budget to justify making this film. Sure, they had suits ready for Godzilla, Rodan, and King Ghidorah, but they would need to craft new ones for Gigan and Mogu (which requires money), plus build a fresh suit for Varan since his original piece was worn out (as evidenced by Toho's usage of static props for Varan in Destroy All Monsters
, rather than an actor).
Realizing this, Toho revised the movie several times. In the process they dropped Mogu, who would never see the light of day, and replaced Varan and Rodan with Anguirus. King Ghidorah lost his title billing, plus the producers used stock footage from Ghidorah's debut film as padding to save money. The resultant feature was Godzilla vs. Gigan
, a film not held in the highest of regard among Godzilla fans.
Although I don't mind Gigan's debut film myself, I still watch it thinking of what could have been. Seeing Varan make a full return, not to mention the presence of Mogu and Gigan's original weaponry (one of his hands was supposed to be a spiked-mace instead of a scythe) would have made for a crazy, campy addition to the IP. Secretly, I find myself hoping that Toho will remember Mogu and the spiked mace and revive them for future flicks.
Well, there you have it. I may do one more of these blogs before shifting away from Godzilla for a while, perhaps about concepts included in the franchise that are much more ridiculous than the giant monsters they feature. By the way:
Credit goes to Toho Kingdom and Godzilla Wiki for information. The concept art above is property of Toho Co., Ltd.