Godzilla (1954) Poster
I love the posters for the Godzilla films in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. They’re so ridiculously on point with what the films are about. In the case of this original poster, there is no mystery as to what Godzilla looks like. You see the name and the lizard and you think, “Hmmm. I’m no detective, but I think that’s probably the Godzilla guy.”
The poster tells you that he’s huge and that he’s going to be destroying the shit out of the city. You can also tell that most military tactics against him will prove to be useless. In fact, one jet is trying the whole “Fly Straight Into The Side Of His Damn Head” maneuver, and judging from the other jet that Godzilla has just turned into a hot dog in his right hand, that plan almost never works.
They also have all the main actors scattered around the bottom, reacting to the background. Ogata, Emiko, and Dr. Yamane are all in shock from the immense size of the creature. Serizawa, over on the left, seems a little more thoughtful about the whole thing. If this was a poster for a romantic comedy, like Tyler Perry’s Big Angry Dinosaur, Serizawa would be the guy on the poster who shrugs while looking comically befuddled.
Godzilla (1998) Poster
There is no better way to introduce the most menacing part of a film than by slapping a penis joke across the top of the poster. “SIZE DOES MATTER.” I guess that’s funny, in a fuck this whole movie kind of way, but using this as the tagline is like marketing The Conjuring with “WHITE WOMEN GOIN’ WILD” or stamping “PREPARE TO GET DOUBLE TEAMED” on Freddy Vs. Jason.
I don’t hate the 1998 Godzilla film. It’s awful, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t hate it because it betrays the character of Godzilla. I’m no purist. I hate it because it betrays good filmmaking. Godzilla’s a fictional character. You can put him in any situation as long as it’s entertaining, as far as I’m concerned. But if your mindset is “In order to really capture that whole ‘atomic monster’ thing, we should hire people affected by radiation poisoning of the brain to write the script. And then, when we make the poster, we should, instead of trying to illuminate how much of a threat Godzilla is, we turn him into a metaphor for dicks. Sound good? OK, now everyone run in front of a bus,” you probably shouldn’t be making a Godzilla film.
Godzilla (2014) Poster
Luckily, the people behind the newest Godzilla film haven’t written anything like “HE’LL GO IN BETWEEN BUILDINGS LIKE A MONSTROUS SHAFT” on the posters, and have actually tried to pay a little homage to Godzilla’s origins. I can get behind this, and I’m looking forward to this film with an intensity that’s usually reserved for people about to take on all four of a club’s bouncers. However, I won’t be completely sold until I actually see the movie. Between now and then, there’s still time to raise the film’s star power, probably by photo shopping Will Smith into the dead center of the poster, shrugging.
The 1954 version has got an amazing Criterion edition, so I suggest watching that one if you haven’t already. Hell, watch it if you have. You win either way.