Ishiro Honda's 1954 film Godzilla is a vital piece of genre cinema, if for no other reason than that it introduced the King of the Monsters to the world, and that the title character has since gone on to appear in more than two dozen films and feature in animated series, comic books, novels and enough pieces of merchandise to fill a dozen Mothra eggs. Even if you've never seen a Godzilla film, you very likely know who Godzilla is, and while plenty of people and stories have contributed to that kind of pop culture clout over the decades, much of it all goes back to that first film.
Honda, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka and special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya very openly made a film that was a metaphor for the post-atomic bomb fears that gripped Japan throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, and as a result they took great care to show more than just an action spectacle for a popcorn crowd. The original Godzilla is packed with moral and ethical discussions, big emotional scenes of grief and loss, and plenty of philosophical undertones. Also, there's a giant lizard stomping on tiny buildings, and who doesn't love that?
Everything I've seen of director Gareth Edwards' reboot, so far, excites me. It's got a great monster design, a great cast, a great sense of tone, and what so far looks like a great reverence for both the themes of the original and the heritage of the monster. I'm impossibly excited to see it, but part of me can't help but analyze my anticipation through the prism of the original. So, since I've got Godzilla on the brain, I took a look back at the very first film (and some of its successors) and came up with a few key lessons from those early Godzilla days that I hope the filmmakers took into account in this reboot, and that could be applied with great effect to potential future sequels.