As I mentioned earlier, I watched The Return Of Godzilla and am now moving on to Godzilla Vs. Biollante. The latter film is a direct follow-up to the first one, kicking off directly after its conclusion and existing within the same continuity.
From what I have read, all of the Heisei-era (1984-1995) Godzilla films (of which these are the first two installments) take place within the same contintuity. However, other than the original 1954 Godzilla, they completely ignore the rest of the Showa-era films (1954-1975). That’s fine with me. I really enjoyed the Showa movies when I was a kid, but they got increasingly ridiculous and aside from the original, I find them pretty difficult to watch these days.
Meanwhile, my understanding of the Millenium-era films (1999-2004)—I have never seen any of them all the way through—is that they exist independendently not only of the two previous eras (except possible the 1954 Godzilla) but also of one another. They are all basically standalone stories and apparently do not concern themselves much with whether or not they contradict one another in terms of Godzilla’s origins and history or any of their various plotlines.
That seems like a pretty interesting way to handle these sorts of theories, and very different from the shared-universe sort of approach that has been all the rage in American movies and television. If nothing else, it avoids the increasingly convoluted storytelling that is required the longer a series goes on and all of the retconning that has to happen in order to deal with unavoidable vagueries of trying to string together a bunch of connected plots over multiple years, hundreds of cast members, and lots of teams of writers.
We seem to want everything to connect together into one big story where everything fits into its place and all of the mysteries are eventually explained.
My theory is that our fascination with these shared fictional universes and their very literal style of storytelling—in which there is only plot and very little room for or acknowledgement of metaphor and ambiguity—is a different face of the same need that drives people to conspiracy thinking. It feels like a need to believe that behind all of the confusing and contradictory events in the world, there is some bigger truth and meaning that ties them all together.
If only we follow it closely enough and pick apart all the threads, we can piece it all together and understand not only the world around us, but also the hidden structures behind it; maybe we can also gain some power over it. In some ways, I am not sure the Star Wars or MCU YouTubers and tweeters with their intricate and long-running, wide-ranging fan theories are all that different from the conspiracy theorists convinced of secret powers orchestrating world events.