Why do I love Godzilla? And specifically, why is the first Godzilla movie (both Gojira, the magnificent Japanese cut, and Godzilla King of the Monsters, the American re-edit with Raymond Burr) one of my favorite films of all?
I suppose it has something to do with fire and explosions and all those things that kids like — I did first encounter the movie before I was 10 — but I always liked the small stories underneath the big one, featuring the characters of Emiko and Professor Tamani and the mysterious scientist Serazawa.
I even liked the soap opera of Peter Parker’s life more than (or at least as much as) Spider-Man’s fights. Sure, I was fascinated by his clashes with the Sandman and Doctor Doom and the Lizard and the Vulture and all that, but I think it was Pete who kept me coming back — would he triumph over the bully Flash Thompson and maybe get to know Betty Brandt a little better?
The big action stories have lots of bells and whistles and spectacular stuff, but if we don’t care about the people caught in the middle, it’s just an Independence Day fireworks display or a roller coaster ride, enjoyed for a few minutes and forgotten.
Stories need heart. The best Godzilla movies have heart. Marvel Comics prevailed because they had heart. When we care about the people first, we care more about the monsters and supervillains and dangerous explosions and bells and whistles.