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How to watch all the Godzilla movies

 Godzilla fights Kong in Godzilla vs. Kong.
Godzilla fights Kong in Godzilla vs. Kong.

Godzilla has been a mainstay in cinema ever since the irradiated monster’s debut in 1954. Forty years later, the Japanese film icon is arguably more popular than ever thanks to Universal’s MonsterVerse films and the critically acclaimed Toho-produced “Godzilla: Minus One.” Whether you’re a long-time enthusiast or a newcomer, this is one of the most exciting periods to be a fan of the legendary King of the Monsters.

Though it seems “Godzilla: Minus One” isn’t emerging onto streaming services any time soon, “Godzilla x Kong: The New Kingdom” arrives in theaters on March 28. That makes this the perfect time to revisit or watch all the Godzilla movies. Some of these films are all-time kaiju classics, while others are less so. However, even the lesser films in the franchise contain enough action and imagination to keep you entertained. Like pizza, even bad Godzilla is good Godzilla.

Without further ado, here are all the Godzilla movies you can watch on streaming services.

Showa Era (1954-1975)

Godzilla
Godzilla

The Showa era of Godzilla introduced us to the famous monster. While the first two films were serious affairs, the franchise gradually became sillier as the producers aimed the movies toward children. Godzilla went from terrorizing Japan to becoming its protector. That’s one hell of a character arc!

Showa Era movies have been around the longest, so it’s no surprise that they’re the most beloved. These are the same films I grew up watching reruns of on WPIX channel 11 in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Yes, some of these movies are downright silly, but I still get a kick out of them.

  • "Godzilla" (1954) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla Raids Again“ (1955) - Amazon

  • “King Kong vs. Godzilla“ (1962) - Pluto channel

  • “Mothra vs. Godzilla“ (1964) - Amazon

  • “Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster“ (1964) - Amazon

  • “Invasion of Astro Monster“ (1965) - Amazon

  • “Ebirah, Horror of the Deep“ (1966) - Amazon

  • “Son of Godzilla“ (1967) - Amazon

  • “Destroy All Monsters“ (1968) - Amazon

  • “All Monsters Attack“ (1969) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla vs. Hedorah“ (1971) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla vs. Gigan“ (1972) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla vs. Megalon“ (1973) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla“ (1974) - Amazon

  • “Terror of Mechagodzilla“ (1975) - Amazon

Hesei Era (1984-1995)

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. (Credit: Toho Pictures)
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. (Credit: Toho Pictures)

The Godzilla franchise went into dormancy after Terror of Mechagodzilla. You can’t keep a good monster down, however, and the irradiated lizard came back with the appropriately named Godzilla Returns in 1984. This signaled the start of the fan-favorite Hesei Era.

Heisei Godzilla films feature a meaner, more animalistic Godzilla. Though he would sometimes inadvertently help mankind in some outings, Heisei Godzilla was often the antagonist in these movies — even if there were more threatening monsters destroying Japan.

Unlike other eras of Godzilla, the Hesei films all took place in the same timeline — featuring returning monsters and humans. The psychic Miki Saegusa, for instance, appeared in every Heisei flick except “Return of Godzilla.” Seeing Godzilla evolve and become stronger throughout these movies is a blast — one that ends with a satisfying end for the monster. If you can’t tell, Heisei Godzilla is my absolute favorite.

Millenium Era (1999-2004)

Credit: Toho Pictures
Credit: Toho Pictures

After the disastrous Roland Emmerich-directed “Godzilla” film in 1998, Toho Studios decided to bring the original Godzilla back after a brief hiatus following “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah”  As its name suggests, these are the Godzilla films released in the 2000s, or aughts as the kids say.

Except for “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” and “Godzilla Tokyo SOS,” the Millenium Godzilla movies were stand-alone films. But like the Heisei Era, Godzilla was a destructive force that humanity tried to stop. While this era had some great monster action, the movies were somewhat standard kaiju films that did little to shake things up. The big outlier is “GMK,” which featured one of the most terrifying and original takes on Godzilla.

While these movies aren’t all that great, they’re still fun — even the goofy “Godzilla: Final Wars.” The franchise would go into another hibernation period after this.

  • “Godzilla 2000“ (1999) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla vs Megaguirus“ (2000) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack“ (2001) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla“ (2002) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla Tokyo SOS“ (2003) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla: Final Wars“ (2004) - Amazon

Reiwa Era (2016-present)

Credit: Toho Pictures
Credit: Toho Pictures

This is the current era of Godzilla films, hence the noticeable lack of entries. Technically, there are five Reiwa Era films, but only two are live-action. It’s hard to give an overview of the Reiwa films since we’re still in this era. So far, these are the most serious Godzilla movies since the original and “Return of Godzilla.“

Arguably, the most interesting Reiwa movie was “Shin Godzilla.“ Not only was it directed by Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Ano, but was also a scathing commentary on the Fukushima nuclear incident — only with Godzilla acting as the natural disaster Japanese officials failed to save people from. In terms of tone, “Shin Godzilla“ is closest to the dour original. It’s my personal favorite after the 1954 classic.

Then we have Oscar-winning “Godzilla: Minus One“ — the first Godzilla movie to ever earn that coveted award. Of all the Godzilla movies, this is the one with human characters you actually care about. In fact, they drive the plot! “Godzilla: Minus One“ is a film anyone can enjoy, even if they don’t care for monster films. Hopefully, it’ll come to a streaming service soon.

  • “Shin Godzilla“ (2014) - Crunchyroll

  • “Godzilla Minus One“ (2023) - unavailable

MonsterVerse (2014-present)

Credit: Warner Bros
Credit: Warner Bros

Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse is intriguing since it’s the only non-MCU cinematic universe that’s still flourishing. Not only does it contain five films (one of which is the upcoming “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire“), but there are various comic books and TV shows associated with it.

The MonsterVerse began with 2014’s “Godzilla.“ That one has the most serious tone as each subsequent film in the franchise would progressively become more lighthearted. I wish they had retained the mood of 2014’s “Godzilla,“ but I’ve still enjoyed the flicks since they don’t lack amazing monster battles. Visually, these films are everything I could have hoped for when watching Godzilla movies as a kid.

  • “Godzilla“ (2014) - Max

  • “Kong: Skull Island“ (2017) - Max 

  • “Godzilla: King of the Monsters“ (2019) - Max

  • “Godzilla vs Kong“ (2021) - Max

  • “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire“ (2024) - only in theaters

Other Godzilla movies

Godzilla
Godzilla

If you’re this deep into the Godzilla movies, then you may as well watch the Godzilla-awful ones.

1998’s “Godzilla“ had one of the biggest (pun absolutely intended) marketing campaigns I had ever seen. Unfortunately, all those Taco Bell commercials and posters stuck on buses couldn’t help what would ultimately be a bad “Jurassic Park“ movie masquerading as a Godzilla film. Though I didn’t hate the design, having Godzilla be a mutated iguana was just plain stupid. Also, there is no universe where a New York City taxi cab can outrun a monster that can easily catch up to military helicopters. I’ll stop ranting now, but suffice it to say “Godzilla“ 1998 is the bottom of the barrel of the franchise.

Or it would be if the Netflix-exclusive “Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters“ trilogy didn’t exist. These anime films (and I use the term anime very loosely) have a cool premise but the execution never works. I’d go into detail about the plot, but to be honest, it’s so nonsensical that it’s not worth explaining. Only watch these movies if you’ve got nothing better to do.

  • "Godzilla" (1998) - Amazon

  • “Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters“ (2017) - Netflix

  • “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle“ (2018) - Netflix

  • “Godzilla: The Planet Eater“ (2018) - Netflix

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