Crisis on Infinite Monster Islands, or, an Attempt at Classifying the Godzilla Film Timelines

Recently I've been re-watching the Godzilla movies. Those of you who have seen them will know that while some of the films formed a more-or-less coherent continuity, the series as a whole cannot be taken as a single timeline, since many of the later films contradict the earlier ones. I intend to try to separate the various distinct continuities represented, based on information provided in the films, with a certain amount of my own intuition thrown in. Some of my choices will, perforce, be arbitrary. If anyone objects to my ideas, I welcome alternate interpretations.

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 Timeline Prime:

I'm starting with an easy one, which derives solely from events described in the 1969 film  All Monsters Attack (a.k.a. Godzilla's Revenge). I named it after DC Comics' old "Earth-Prime". Why? Because in this films there's no indication whatsoever that the monsters are "real".  While some of the film's events are improbable, there's nothing in it (outside of the events that are clearly figments of the young protagonist's imagination) that could not exist in the "real world". I find this an interesting idea, and am proceeding with the assumption that in this timeline Godzilla and his fellow monsters are creatures of fiction only.

 

Events of Timeline Prime:

1969: A young boy named Ichiro likes to escape his troubles by daydreaming of visiting Monster Island. In his dreams, he imagines a friendship with Minilla, the son of Godzilla, which helps him to discover the fortitude to outwit two robbers and confront a local bully.

 

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Timeline 1What I'm calling "Timeline 1" contains the majority of the so-called "Showa Era" G-Films, and by extension, a number of other Toho monster movies.

 

Events of Timeline 1:
1945: A U-boat delivers the still-beating heart of Frankenstein's Monster to the Japanese. The heart is delivered to Hiroshima just as the A-bomb is dropped.(1)


1954: The monster Godzilla first appears. It attacks Tokyo and is subsequently destroyed by Doctor Serizawa and his Oxygen Destroyer.(2)


1955: A second Godzilla (hereafter "Godzilla II") appears and battles a new monster called Anguirus.  The two monsters do battle in Osaka, and Godzilla II defeats Anguirus.  Godzilla is subsequently trapped in an ice field by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.(3)


1956: Two flying monsters known as Rodan appear in Japan. They are apparently killed in a volcanic eruption, although one subsequently re-appears. (4)


1958: The monster Varan appears in northern Japan. It attacks Tokyo, but is driven off. (5)


1961: Rolisican businessman Clark Nelson kidnaps the Shobijin from Infant Island and returns with them to Japan. A larval Mothra pursues him to Japan, subsequently cocooning and emerging as an adult creature. It pursues Nelson to Rolisica and retrieves the two girls. (6)


1962: Godzilla II frees itself from the ice, and attacks Japan.  At the same time, employees of Pacific Pharmaceuticals capture a giant ape called "King Kong" and bring it to Japan.  Godzilla II and Kong battle inconclusively before falling into the sea. (7)


1963: The undersea Mu Empire attacks the surface world using the monster Manda.  The submarine Atragon defeats Manda and destroys Mu. (8)


1964: A typhoon washes Mothra's egg ashore in Japan and Mothra comes to Japan to reclaim it. Godzilla II reappears in Japan around the same time and the two monsters battle. Mothra is killed, but two larvae hatch from its egg and defeat Godzilla. (9) One of the Mothra larvae subsequently dies. The remaining one becomes Mothra II.

The space monster King Ghidorah comes to Earth, but is defeated by Godzilla II, Rodan and Mothra II. (10)


1965: The inhabitants of Planet X invade Earth using the mind-controlled monsters Godzilla II, Rodan and King Ghidorah. Humanity manages to defeat the aliens and release the monster. GodZilla II and Rodan drive King Ghidorah from the Earth. (11)

The heart of Frankenstein's Monster has mutated into a gigantic, mute boy. The boy is killed fighting the monster Baragon. (1)


1966: A group of Japanese men discover Godzilla II hibernating on an island where the Red Bamboo terrorist group is holding some Infant Islanders prisoner. The men awaken Godzilla II, who battles the monster Ebirah and a giant bird.  The terrorists are defeated thorugh a combination of Godzilla II's rampge and the ingenuity of the Japanese men.  The Infant Islanders summons Mothra II, now an adult, who rescues them and the Japanese men before the island is destroyed. (12)
Cells from Frankenstein's Monster have grown into two new monsters - Sanda the Brown Gargantua and Gailah the Green Gargantua. The two creatures battle to their apparent mutual destruction. (13)


1967: A UN team visits Mondo Island, where they observe a giant ape called King Kong battle the dinosaur Gorosaurus. Elsewhere the villainous Doctor Hu uses the robotic ape Mechani-Kong to attempts to recover the powerful Element X. When this fails, he captures the real Kong, and attempts to use it to recover the element Kong escapes, and subsequently battles Mechani-Kong in Tokyo. Kong pursues Hu, who is killed. Kong then subsequently leaves Japan to return home. (14)
A scientific expedition in the South Pacific observes the hatching of a Godzilla-type creature called Minilla. Godzilla II arrives to protect Minilla from mutant insects called Kamacurus and the mutant spider Kumonga. (15)


1971: Minilla has grown to adulthood and is now known as Godzilla III. (16)  Godzilla III battles the monster Hedorah. (17)


1972: Aliens from Space Hunter M Nebula attempt to conquer Earth using the monsters Gigan and King Ghidorah, but are defeated by Godzilla III and Anguirus II. (18)


1973: When the undersea civilization of Seatopia is disrupted by the surface-dwellers' nuclear tests, they attack Japan using the monsters Megalon and Gigan, but are defeated by Godzilla III and the heroic robot, Jet Jaguar. (19)


1974: The alien Simians attack Japan using the robot Mechagodzilla. Mechagodzilla badly beats Anguirus II, but is defeated in a battle with Godzilla III and the Okinawan guardian monster, King Seesar. (20)


1975: The Simians make a second attmept to conquer Earth using Mechagodzilla II and the monster Titanosaurus, but are defeated by Godzilla III and human forces. (21)


1999: The alien Kilaaks attempt to conquer Earth using the mind-controlled monsters Godzilla III, Mothra III, Anguirus II, Baragon, Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Manda, Minilla II, Rodan and Varan.  When humanity manages to free the monsters, the Kilaaks send King Ghidorah to attack them, but the terrestrial monsters easily defeat him. (22)


Notes:

(1)From Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), which I include since it contains the first appearance of Baragon, who also appears in Destroy All Monsters (1968)


(2)From Godzilla (1954).


(3)From Godzilla Raids Again (1955).


(4)From Rodan (1956), included because Rodan appears in several G-Films.


(5)From Varan the Unbelievable (1958), included because Varan re-appears in Destroy All Monsters (1968).


(6)From Mothra (1961), included because Mothra re-appears in several G-Films.


(7)From King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)


(8)From Atragon (1963), included because Manda later appeared in Destroy All Monsters (1968).


(9)From Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). 


(10)From Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964).


(11)From Monster Zero (1965).


(12)From Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966).


(13)From War of the Gargantuas (1966), included since it is a sequel to Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965).


(14)From King Kong Escapes (1967), included since Kong appeared in a previous G-Film.


(15)From Son of Godzilla (1967)


(16)This is pure speculation on my part. The next film in the series is Destroy All Monsters (1968), which is definitely set in 1999.  However, the later Showa Era G-Films seem to me to be somehow inherently of the 1970's. So, I'm posting that these later films took place before DAM.  Also, we don't really see Minilla much after the 1960's. My explanation is that the "Godzilla" we see in the 1970's films actually is Minilla grown up.  This would also explain why the Godzilla of these later films is somewhat friendlier to humanity. The former Minilla had human friends from a fairly early stage in its life, and is thus more favorably inclined towards us.  I admit that this theory isn't backed by much evidence, and leaves open the question of what happened to Godzilla II - did it die or "retire" or what? But I like it, so I'm running with it.


(17)From Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971).


(18)From Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972). Since the original Anguirus seemed to have been killed in Godzilla Raids Again (1955), I am positing that this is another, similar creature.


(19)From Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973).


(20)From Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974).


(21)From Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975).


(22)From Destroy All Monsters (1968). Note that since the Mothra in this picture is a larva, I am assuming that it cannot be the same Mothra that we last saw in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966). Since I've assumed that Godzilla III is a grown-up Minilla, the "Minilla" we see in this picture must be a new creature.  It's conceivable that many of the other monsters we see here are not the originals, but I'm choosing not to pursue that line of thought just now.

 

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Timeline 1(v): A question which has occurred to me is this: "Are the events of the Americanized Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) different enough from those of Godzilla (1954) that they represent events of a different timeline?" The main difference between the two films consists of the presence in the latter of American reporter Steve Martin and the functionary Tomo, who accompanies Martin throughout most of the film. One could certainly argue that Martin and Tomo were present in the 1954 version, and were simply "off-screen".  I have no problem with that, if that's how you prefer to see it. However, if you watch both films, you will see that in the 1954 film there is the character Hagiwara, a Japanese reporter whose role is largely supplanted by Martin in the 1955 re-working. My feeling is that Martin's presence creates a "variant" timeline (hence "Timeline 1(v)" for "variant"), where events differ slightly from those of Timeline 1. This timeline continues with the events of Godzilla 1985 (1985).


Events of Timeline 1(v):

1954:  American reporter Steve Martin witnesses Godzilla's first attack on Tokyo, and his apparent destruction by Doctor Serizawa's Oxygen Destroyer.


1984: Godzilla reappears and once again attacks Japan. The U.S. military calls in reporter Steve Martin for his input regarding Godzilla. Japanese scientists succeed in sealing Godzilla in Mount Mihara.

 

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Timeline 2: This timeline contains the events of the Heisei series of G-Films, which posits the events of the first film, but then ignores the subsequent films to re-start continuity with Godzila (1984).   

 

Events of Timeline 2:
10,000 BC: The civilization dominating Earth at this is destroyed during the first battle between Mothra and Battra. (1)


1944: Japanese soldiers stationed on Lagos Island encounter the dinosaur that will one day become Godzilla II. It inadvertently saves them by destroying American landing forces.  Wilson's team teleports the Godzillasaurus into the North Pacific, and surreptitiously leave three genetically engineered creates called "Dorats" on the island instead. The island is subsequently used for a nuclear test, and the three Dorats fuse and mutate into King Ghidorah. (2)


1954: The monster Godzilla first appears near Odo Island. It attacks Tokyo, and is subsequently destroyed by Doctor Serizawa and his Oxygen Destroyer. (3)


1984: A Soviet nuclear sub sinks in the North Pacific near the hibernating Godzillasaurus, causing it to mutate into Godzilla II. (2) It attacks Japan. Japanese scientists succeed in sealing Godzilla in Mount Mihara. (4)


1989: The monster Biollante is created using cells from a rose and from Godzilla II , and is somehow infused with the soul of a murdered girl. Biollante battles Godzilla II, and is apparently destroyed. (5)


1992: Wilson's time machine arrives in this time period. Wilson uses King Ghidorah to attack Japan.  Godzilla II is further mutated when it absorbs energy from a Japanese nuclear submarine. It battles and badly mauls King Ghidorah.  Emi Kano brings Mecha-King Ghidorah back from the future.  It subdues Godzilla II, but is destroyed in the process. (2)
Subsequently, Godzilla II, Mothra and Battra re-appear. Mothra and Battra skirmish with each other and then cooperate to defeat Godzilla II, although Battra is killed in the process. (1)


1993: The UN Godzilla Countermeasures Center uses the technology from Mecha-King Ghidorah to construct Mechagodzilla. Godzilla II and Rodan skirmish over custody of an unknown egg. When scientists bring the egg to Japan, Baby Godzilla hatches out of it. Godzilla II and Rodan each go to Japan to reclaim it.  Mechagodzilla defeats Rodan, but is defeated by Godzilla II.  Godzilla II assumes custody of Baby Godzilla and leaves Japan. (6)


1994: The UNGCC has used the remnants of Mechagodzilla to build the robot MOGUERA. The monster Space Godzilla comes to Earth where it menaces Little Godzilla (f.k.a. Baby Godzilla) and battles Godzilla II. Godzilla II, Space Godzilla and MOGUERA enagage in a three-way battle in which Space Godzilla and MOGUERA are destroyed.  Godzilla II and Little Godzilla then return home. (7)


1995:  Godzilla II's internal reactor begins going out of control. Godzilla II and Godzilla Junior battle the monster Destroyah.  Even as Destroyah is defeated, Godzilla II melts down.  Godzilla Junior (f.k.a. Little Godzilla) absorbs the excess radiation, becoming Godzilla III. (8)


2204: Japan has become the world's dominant economic power. A man called Wilson steals a time machine and travels into the past in an attempt to alter history and prevent Japan's rise to power. Emi Kano subsequently returns to this time and has the remains of King Ghidorah rebuilt into Mecha-King Ghidorah.  She returns to the 20th Century with Mecha-King Ghidorah to battle Godzilla II. She returns to her own time when the battle is over. (2)


Notes:
(1)From Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992).


(2)From Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). The date of 1992 is specifically given in the film for the "modern day"scenes.


(3)From Godzilla (1954).


(4)From Godzilla (1984).


(5)From Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989).


(6)From Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1993). It's probably a little quick for them to have reverse-engineered the future technology in just one year. I rationalize that MG (and later MOGUERA) were projects they were already working on, and the they merely used elements of the future tech to complete them.


(7)From Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994)


(8)From Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995).

 

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Timeline 3:  What I'm calling "Timeline 3"  is first seen in Godzilla (1998), but continues in Godzilla-Mothra-King Ghidorah: Giant Monster All-Out Attack (2001). It's a bit of a stretch connecting these two films, I know. On the one hand, there is a line in GMK that is an obvious reference to the American film. On the other hand, Godzilla (1998) makes no direct reference to there having been any previous giant monster attacks. I suppose one could put it up  to "American obliviousness as to what's going on in the world" if one wanted to. It's definitely separate from any other timelines because it is directly stated in the film that fifty years passed between Godzilla's first attack and the second one.

 

Events of Timeline 3:
1954: Godzilla attacks Japan and is destroyed.


1998:  French nuclear testing causes a mutated lizard to come into being. It is called "Godzilla" by a delirious Japanese tuna fisherman. This second Godzilla (Godzilla II) attacks New York City and is destroyed there. At least one egg produced by this creature is known to have hatched.


2004: The original Godzilla, possessed by the spirits of those who died in the Pacific War, attacks Japan, but is defeated by the three Guardian Monsters, Baragon, King Ghidorah and Mothra, with assistance from the Japanese Defense Forces.

 

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Timeline 4: This timeline is contained within Godzilla 2000 (1999).  Once again, all of Godzilla's previous appearances except the 1954 one are ignored.

 

Events of Timeline 4:

60,000,000 B.C.: A Millennian starship lands on Earth and goes into hibernation.

 

1954: Godzilla first attacks Japan.

 

2000: The Millennian ship is awakened. It is destroyed by Godzilla.  Genetic material from the ship becomes the monster Orgah.  It battles Godzilla and is also destroyed.

 

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Timeline 5: This timeline is contained within Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000). Again, previous continuity is largely ignored.

 

Events of Timeline 5:

1954: Godzilla attacks Japan, destroying Tokyo. The Japanese capital is moved to Osaka.

 

1966: Godzilla attacks Japan's first nuclear plant at Tokai Village. Japan seeks alternative energy sources.

 

1996: Godzilla attacks Osaka, destroying an experimental plasma energy plant.

 

2001: A machine that creates miniature black holes creates a wormhole that unleashes the monster Megaguirus.  Godzilla battles Megaguirus and destroys it.

 

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Timeline 6: This timeline begins with Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) and goes into Godzilla:Tokyo SOS (2003). It also contains references to Mothra (1961),War of the Gargantuas (1966) and Yog: Monster from Space (1970). Again it implies that Godzilla has not appeared since 1954. The dates are as given in the films themselves.


Events of Timeline 6:
1954: Godzilla attacks Japan and is destroyed through the use of Doctor Serizawa's Oxygen Destroyer.

 

1961: Mothra attacks Tokyo and is defeated through the use of a new heat gun.

 

1966: Gaira the Green Gargantua attacks Japan is defeated through the use of a new maser gun.
The  Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF) is founded in Chiba.

 

1970: The so-called Space Amoeba attempts to conquer the Earth by creating the monsters Gezora, Ganimes and Kamoebas, but is defeated.

 

1999: Godzilla II attacks Japan. The Japanese government decides to build a robot Mechagodzilla (called "Kiryu") from the bones of the original Godzilla.

 

2003: Kiryu is completed. It battles Godzilla II to a draw.

 

2004: The Twin Fairies of Infant Island insist that the Japanese government return Godzilla's bones to the sea, saying that Mothra will defend Japan in Kiryu's place.  Elsewhere, Godzilla II kills Kamoebas. Mothra and Kiryu battle Godzilla II. In the end, Kiryu secures Godzilla II and plummets them both into the sea.

 

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 Timeline 7: The events of this timeline are contained within the film Godzilla: Final Wars (2004). This one is vaguer than most about dating, so it contains more of my speculation than most.

 

Events of Timeline 7:

1954:  Godzilla attacks Japan for the first time, the first in a wave of many monster attacks.  Subsequently, the nations of the world create the Earth Defense Force to combat them. When mutant humans begin appearing, they are recruited to form a special force within the EDF.

 

1984: The Gotengo traps Godzilla in the ice at the South Pole. Crewman Douglas Gordon fires the missiles that actually imprison the monster.(1)

 

2004: The Gotengo destroys the monster Manda. Douglas Gordon, now the ship's captain,  is placed under arrest for defying orders. A juvenile Godzilla-type monster is found by a boy named Kenta. He names the creature "Minilla". Alien Xilians attack Earth using the monsters Anguirus, Ebirah, Gigan, Hedorah, Kamacurus, King Seesar, Kumonga, Rodan and Zilla.  The Gotengo travels to the Antarctic, pursued by Gigan.  The Gotengo frees Godzilla, who decapitates Gigan.  Godzilla pursues the Gotengo back to Japan, defeating the other monsters along the way. As the humans battle the Xilians, Godzilla battles Monster X while Mothra battles an upgraded Gigan.   Mothra is badly hurt while Gigan is destroyed. After the XIlians are defeated, Monster X transforms into Kaiser Ghidorah.  Godzilla defeats Kaiser Ghidorah with some help from the Gotengo. Kenta and Minilla broker a truce between Godzilla and humanity.  Godzilla leaves with Minilla. Mothra subsequently returns to Infant Island.

 

Notes:

(1)I chose this date arbitrarily since I'm positing that the scenes in the present day are set in 2004, and the actor who plays the younger Gordon seems like he could be about 20 years younger than Don Frye.

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Timeline 8: The events of this timeline are contained within the film Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Island.(2017) So far. They ignore all previous continuity.

 

Events of Timeline 8:

1954: The creature which will come to be known as "Godzilla" is awakened from dormancy by the presence of an American nuclear submarine.  Many attempts are made to destroy it under the guise of nuclear tests.

1973:  An American expedition to Skull Island encounters the giant ape known as "King Kong".

 

1999: In the Philippines, two creatures known as MUTOSs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) are awakened. One, a female, is believed killed and is taken to be stored at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.  The other, a male, attacks the Janjira nuclear plant in Japan and lies dormant there.

 

2014: The male MUTO awakens and begins seeking out the female. It heads towards the US, pursued by Godzilla.  The female also awakens and seeks out the male, destroying Las Vegas in the process. Godzilla battle the male MUTO in Hawaii, but it escapes him.  The MUTOs reunite in San Francisco and battles Godzilla, which destroys them both before returning to the sea.

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Timeline 9The events of this timeline are contained - so far - within the film Shin Godzilla (2016).

Events of Timeline 9:

2016: A marine creature of unknown provenance that comes to be known as "Godzilla" attacks Tokyo. After failed attacks by the Japanese and American militaries, a team of scientists manages to freeze the creature solid.

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Updated the original post to include "Timeline 1", which covers most of the Showa Era G-Films.

Also added "Timeline 1(v)".

Added "Timeline 2".

That's a lot of great work.



Mark S. Ogilvie said:

That's a lot of great work.

 

Thank you!

It'd look great as a time line poster.

And there's still more timelines to come!

Are you going to include the first and second cartoon series?

Only the movies at this point and time. I don't actually know enough about the cartoons to write about them intelligently.

I remember they both had good theme songs.

I remember the one from when we was kids - I don't know that I ever saw the second one.

Added "Timeline 3".

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