Godzilla (ジラジ?) was a Gojiradaikaiju created by TriStar Pictures that first appeared in the 1998 film, Godzilla, and subsequently reappeared in the sequel series, Godzilla: The Series, as Cyber-Godzilla.
During the events of the movie, the monster is referred to as "Gojira" by the sole survivor of Kobayashi Maru; the English transliteration of that name being "Godzilla".
Six years after the film was released, Toho Company Ltd. acquired the rights to the creature and officially re-branded the creature's design as "Zilla" in any appearances post-2004. However, any appearances before then in any media still refer to the creature as "Godzilla", officially. This "Godzilla" branding includes post-2004 releases of earlier productions featuring the creature, such as the 1998 Tristar Godzilla as released in home video formats by Sony Pictures in 2009 and 2019.
As later Toho productions featured "Zilla"—a creature directly visually and conceptually derived from the TriStar Godzilla but with its own "Zilla" branding and icon, matching the same for other Toho monsters as intellectual properties—the result in real-world production history has been two distinct creatures that highly resemble each other, with "Zilla" as a concept following from Toho's legal rights to this article's topic, including its rights to the TriStar Godzilla's visual design.
Originally intended to be a more realistic depiction of Godzilla, the 1998 design is a very drastic redesign, to the point of looking almost nothing like his Japanese counterpart. The CGI model's appearance and stance seem to be based on Tyrannosaurus rex, with certain features of iguanas and dromaeosaur dinosaurs such as Velociraptor.
The color of the design's skin is a very dark blue on the top of his body, to the point of looking black during some scenes, a silvery light-blue color on the sides of the body, and tan on the underside, as if to blend in with the urban environment.
The design has a notably big underbite with a huge chin, and teeth that stick out of the mouth, much like crocodiles'. In contrast to Godzilla's maple leaf-shaped dorsal plates, the 1998 design has curved, spike-like scutes, curving towards the front, described as looking somewhat like reversed shark fins.
The design has powerful, long legs and arms, which enable for very swift movement; something it was specifically designed to have, as well as being able to move on all fours while tunneling.
The 1998 Godzilla possessed long, powerful legs and arms. He also possessed a seemingly vestigial toe on the back of his foot, and three dinosaur-like toes on its 13.7-foot-long feet.
The 1998 Godzilla's roars seem to be a mix between the roars of the Japanese Godzilla from the 1960s - 1970s as well as elephant and walrus sounds, as demonstrated when he got hit by torpedoes and groaned like an elephant, and when he got hit my missles or was running in fear from them, he trumpeted like an elephant. When submerged, underground, or simply offscreen, Godzilla emitted an ominous, low moaning sound voiced by the song of a humpback whale. The monster's roars were made by Gary A. Hecker and Frank Welker.
The 1998 monster's roars were later used for the Japanese Godzilla in the American version of Godzilla 2000: Millennium and for his cameo appearance in Always: Sunset on Third Street 2.
Unlike their Japanese counterpart, the 1998 Godzilla behaves in a very different manner; being an animalistic, elusive and evasive, yet clever creature in his first film appearance, and he kept most, or at the very least some of these traits later on. They mostly ate fish, making him a piscivore, which they would also pass onto their offspring.
When being attacked, Godzilla would try to confuse his offenders and then attack them back, and he even faked his death when the two Ohio Class Nuclear-Powered Submarines shot two torpedoes at him.
After Godzilla's offspring were killed when the Madison Square Garden was bombed by the military, he showed sadness (nudging one of their offspring with his snout in an attempt to "wake it") and then a great amount of anger towards the main characters, whom he may or may not have known were somewhat behind their deaths. As a result, he begins attacking more relentlessly and aggressively similar to his Japanese counterpart (though it ultimately led to his downfall).
Godzilla also seemed to possess some form of higher thinking, as when three helicopters were chasing him, after eluding them, he began roaring and screeching to make them think he was hiding in the buildings in front of them, and after they exhausted all their ammo, he made sounds like he was defeated before smashing through the buildings behind them and destroying two of them with ease; after the third one eluded him, he made use of his camouflage to attack it from underneath.
The 1998 Godzilla was a giant mutated marine iguana originating from a nuclear test in the Maruroa Atoll Islands of French Polynesia while it was still an egg. As the test was done in the summer of 1968, the creature grew over a period of approximately thirty years. His irradiated genes caused him to achieve a height of about sixty meters.
A giant reptilian monster swam from the islands across the Pacific, attacking the cannery ship Kobayashi Maru, and then stomped across Panama.
From there it traveled up the American Eastern Seaboard, where it sank several American fishing boats. Later on, the creature arrived in New York City, wandering through the city and causing major damage. Eventually, it was lured into Flatiron Square with 20,000 pounds of fish. After escaping a military attack, the monster stomped through New York, necessitating the evacuation of the entire city. The monster was later labeled "Godzilla," after the lone survivor of the monster's attack on the Kobayashi Maru identified it as "Gojira." The military battled Godzilla extensively and seemingly killed it in the East River with torpedoes.
However, it had laid 228 eggs in and under Madison Square Garden (an arena in Midtown Manhattan), which hatched and filled the Garden with hundreds of infant Godzillas. The military bombed the Garden, slaying the infant 'Zillas. However, Godzilla then revealed itself to have survived, bursting up from underneath the street, and, after seeing its dead offspring, chased the heroes through New York across the Brooklyn Bridge, where it became entangled in the suspension cables. It was then killed by F-18 Hornets.
One unhatched offspring survived the destruction of Madison Square Garden. When it hatched, it imprinted upon Dr. Niko Tatopoulos shortly after the doctor discovered the egg. From there, the new Godzilla accompanied Tatopoulos and his team, H.E.A.T., on their missions against various monsters mutated by nuclear experiments in Godzilla: The Series.
After his death, Godzilla's body was taken to a military base where it was studied. The base was eventually overtaken by Tachyons, who used their technology to resurrect Godzilla as a cyborg called Cyber-Godzilla.
He was then sent to eliminate H.E.A.T., who had sneaked into the facility, and when his son, the second Godzilla arrived to save them, he refused to fight his father and was taken under the control of the Tachyons. The father and son team gave chase but were distracted by N.I.G.E.L., which allowed H.E.A.T. to escape.
Cyber-Godzilla and the other mutations under Tachyon control were then sent out to various cities to destroy them. Cyber-Godzilla was chosen for Tokyo.
The other mutations were saved from the control of the Tachyons, with the sole exception of Cyber-Godzilla who remained loyal. He soon confronted his son, who decided to fight for his surrogate father, Niko Tatopoulos, rather than his biological father.
The two began to fight, ultimately ending with Godzilla tearing off Cyber-Godzilla's robotic arm and ripping open his torso, pulling out his vital circuitry and finally killing him for good.
Although not appearing physically in the movie, a monster resembling Godzilla that had appeared in New York was recognized by humanity and General Tachibana. Japanese scientists considered this monster different from Godzilla, in spite of American scientists' disagreement.
The 1998 Godzilla was able to swim through the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans in a matter of days.
When the 1998 Godzilla was revived and upgraded as Cyber-Godzilla in Godzilla: The Series, he gained a orange atomic breath know as fire breath, Godzilla's. His son from Godzilla: The Series possesses a green atomic breath. In some of Patrick Tatopoulos' concept artwork for the 1998 film as well as in some artwork for merchandise related to the film, Godzilla is depicted firing atomic breath.
The 1998 Godzilla possessed a remarkable burrowing ability, able to excavate the thick tar and concrete around New York with ease. Using this advantage, he was able to escape and hide from the United States Army.
The 1998 Godzilla's skin color allowed him to blend in well with New York City's architecture. This Godzilla also possessed an incredibly low body temperature, which rendered him colder than his surroundings and unable to be detected by the military's thermal scanning.
Durability-wise, small arms fire is useless on the 1998 Godzilla as well as standard tank rounds. The F-18 Hornet's missile compliment proved strong enough to kill him. However, it required at least twelve missiles to do so.
While the 1998 Godzilla relies on instinct to a greater degree than the Japanese Godzilla, he was still shown to be capable of thinking during battles and forming strategies. Throughout the 1998 film, Godzilla eludes the United States military, causing them to ultimately cause more damage to New York City than he does. After falling for the first fish trap and getting minorly wounded, Godzilla learns from his past experience and leaves the second trap.
Using his speed and camouflage, Godzilla evaded several military helicopters and attacks them from behind. Later, he faked his death by two torpedoes, causing the military to call off their attacks and allowing Godzilla to resurface.
Another testament to his intelligence was where he sticks his arm into the Park Avenue tunnel in an attempt to grab the taxi that Nick, Audrey, Philippe, and Animal were hiding in after sticking his head in failed.
The 1998 Godzilla originally lacked the Japanese Godzilla's iconic atomic breath, though he possessed a Power Breath (strong flammable winds of gas) which he can also ignite to form a wall or blast of flames. This Power Breath can send things weighing several tons flying away, including cars.
The 1998 Godzilla was capable of asexual reproduction and is shown to have laid over 200 eggs in Madison Square Garden. The fact that this Godzilla laid eggs has led to a prevalent misconception regarding the character's gender.
However, like all other versions of Godzilla, the 1998 Godzilla is officially recognized as a male creature, even in spite of its reproductive ability. Despite the monster's official gender, designer Patrick Tatopoulos has revealed that female genitalia was sculpted onto Godzilla's CGI model, though this is not visible clearly in the film. (It is far more likely that despite being referred to as a male and with male pronouns, it is asexual or hermaphroditic.)
Speed and Agility
The 1998 Godzilla was very fast and agile, possessing a land speed of 300 miles per hour. This speed was showcased in the 1998 film when Godzilla was able to outrun multiple squadrons of AH-64 Apaches and, despite being in point-blank range, was able to dodge and avoid missiles launched at him with ease.
The 1998 Godzilla was able to run and swim for a long time without showing any signs of exhaustion.
Strength and Combat
The 1998 Godzilla had five-foot-long teeth and six-foot-long talons, which allowed him to burrow through tough surfaces, destroy helicopters with little effort, be it by hand or jaw strength, and can gut a large ship's hull with ease.
The 1998 Godzilla's scutes ended up getting caught in the Brooklyn Bridge's suspension cables, leading to his demise.
The 1998 Godzilla, unlike traditional Godzillas, was killed by missiles launched from a squadron of F-18 Hornets at the end of the 1998 film.
While other daikaiju in Toho's films have tough hides impervious to any conventional military weapons, this Godzilla was mortally wounded by direct hits from missiles.
- While Godzilla® 1998 and Zilla are by technicality the same character by design, they are legally different characters. All media and merchandise of the character before 2004 is under the trademark of Godzilla®. All media and merchandise released after 2003 is under the title and trademark Zilla.
- Despite its appearance, the 1998 Godzilla is a mutated marine iguana, and not a prehistoric creature like the Japanese Godzilla.
- According to the movie, the 1998 Godzilla was created by nuclear fallout on French Polynesia. However, marine iguanas are indigenous to the Galápagos Islands.
- Many critics poked fun at the "iguana" origin, considering that it makes little sense that a herbivorous lizard would somehow be mutated into a fish-eating theropod.
- The 1998 monster was designed based on only the instructions that it should be agile and fast.
- This monster's attack on New York City was referenced in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack; although the American experts believe that it was Godzilla, the Japanese do not.
- Toho had clear communication with TriStar during the development of the 1998 film. When asked about Hollywood's 1998 film interpretation of Godzilla, Shogo Tomiyama stated: "There was always very good communication between Tokyo and Hollywood. We knew exactly how they were going to do it, and we knew what Godzilla was going to look like." Toho's chairman at the time, Isao Matsuoka, even said he felt it kept the essence of Godzilla, though many of Toho's executives and employees would later express their displeasure with the design.
- While individually a very weak kaiju in terms of strength and destructive power, the '98 Godzilla posed the greatest threat to humankind: as it reproduced very quickly (it lays over 200 eggs per clutch and is said that the offspring could, in turn, produce young within a couple of years) it could easily have overrun the world with its numerous offspring.
- Kenpachiro Satsuma commented that 'That's not Godzilla, it does not have the spirit'.
- The animatronic Godzilla was designed by veteran Disney Imagineer Bob Gurr, who also created the giant animatronic King Kong for the Universal Studios Hollywood tour.
- The 1998 Godzilla and its roar appears within the music video for the rap song Godzilla.
- The 1998 Godzilla's cloaca can clearly be seen at the base of its tail.
- Molstad, Stephen GODZILLA: The Novelization HarperPrism, 1998
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- "Monster Wars - Part 2/Part 3". (February 20, 1999/February 27, 1999). Godzilla: The Series. Season 1. TriStar
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- Godzilla (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital HD), Sony Pictures (May 14, 2019). https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Godzilla-4K-Blu-ray/233302/.
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- National Geographic - Marine iguanas
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