Godzilla (ゴジラ?) is a popular series of giant monster films, games, comics, toys, and any licensed products starring the character GojiraGodzilla, and featuring other daikaiju. Starting in 1954, the Godzilla series has become the longest-running film series in movie history.
In 1956, it was adapted by the American company Jewell Enterprises into Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, edited and with added principal scenes featuring actor Raymond Burr. This version became an international success and gave rise to Godzilla's popularity outside of Japan.
Since then, Godzilla has been featured in 33, (soon to be 34) official films produced by Toho Company Ltd., two American-made Hollywood adaptations, and countless print media, television shows, video games, toys and other merchandise. Legendary Pictures' recent 2014 film adaptation has launched a shared cinematic universe featuring King Kong, and will be followed by a sequel and a subsequent crossover film.
Toho, meanwhile, began production on a Japanese reboot to the series titled Shin Godzilla which was released in Japan on July 29, 2016, before being released to other territories both in nearby regions and internationally, at later dates. The Japanese series would continue in 2017 with the development and release of the film, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, and its two sequels, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle, and Godzilla: The Planet Eater.
The original Godzilla film was greatly inspired by the commercial success of the 1952 re-release of King Kong, and the 1953 success of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. The Godzilla series would go on to inspire various other monster films such as Gorgo, Gamera, Cloverfield, and many others.
The Godzilla series is responsible for pioneering the Tokusatsu style of filmmaking in Japan, as well as popularizing the daikiaju eiga (Japanese giant monster films) genre of movies. Godzilla is frequently referenced or parodied in popular culture around the world, reflecting his status as a well-known cultural icon.
- 1 History
- 2 Unmade North American films
- 3 Films by series
- 4 Unmade films
- 5 Media
- 6 Cultural impact
- 7 Monsters
- 8 Awards
- 9 Gallery
- 10 References
The Godzilla series consists of 32 film entries produced by the Japanese studio Toho Company Ltd., as well as two Hollywood adaptations produced by the American studios TriStar Pictures and Legendary Pictures, respectively.
The 30 Toho films are broken up into four distinct eras, the Showa, Heisei and Millennium series, each with its own characteristic style and corresponding to a different time period. A fourth series, dubbed the "Reiwa era" was kickstarted in 2016, following the release of Shin Godzilla.
The first two series, Showa and Heisei, are named after the political period of Japan in which they were produced, while the Millennium series refers to its being released at the start of the new millennium, due to the Heisei emperor, Akihito, still being Japan's reigning emperor. The fourth is dubbed as is due to it coming after the Millennium series, and bearing no relation or canonical relevancy to the previous series of films.
As the Godzilla franchise has developed over the years, its films have ranged from serious allegorical horror films warning against nuclear testing, social commentary on environmental, scientific, and political issues, to light-hearted action films aimed towards children, and everything in between.
The first series of Godzilla films is named after the Showa period of Japan, referring to the reign of Emperor Hirohito which ended in 1989. The Showa series began with the original Godzilla in 1954, which was intended as a serious allegory warning of the horrors brought by nuclear weapons. Ishiro Honda, the film's director, had been present at the ruins of Hiroshima after it was leveled by the atomic bomb, inspiring him to create a film showing he devastation brought on by a nuclear attack on a major city. The film was also influenced by the then-recent Lucky Dragon No. 5 incident, where a Japanese fishing boat was contaminated by the detonation of the American hydrogen bomb Castle Bravo at Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954.
The film was criticized for exploiting recent national tragedies upon its release, but was financially successful enough for Toho to begin production of a sequel, Godzilla Raids Again, which was released less than a year later in 1955. While Godzilla Raids Again was not as successful as the first film, Toho began producing other giant monster films in the following years, including Rodan, Varan and Mothra. Toho produced the next entry in the Godzilla series in 1962, King Kong vs. Godzilla, after acquiring the rights to the character of King Kong from Universal and RKO Pictures. The film was a sizable global success, and inspired Toho to produce a Godzilla film nearly every year, along with other giant monster films not featuring Godzilla such as Dogora and Frankenstein vs. Baragon.
Godzilla developed as a character throughout the Showa series, initially beginning as a terrifying living nuclear allegory set on destroying Japan, and gradually becoming a benevolent monster that defended Japan from various threats, including other giant monsters and alien invaders. The Showa series introduced the tradition of Godzilla battling another monster in each film, beginning with the monster Anguirus in Godzilla Raids Again. Many of Godzilla's most popular allies and enemies, including Anguirus, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, made their debuts in Showa series films, some of them initially appearing outside the Godzilla series. As the series continued, it began to appeal more and more to younger audiences, featuring more fantastical plots and introducing characters like Minilla, Godzilla's son.
The Godzilla films of the Showa series all follow a single continuity (with the exception of All Monsters Attack), however continuity between the films is loose, and explicit references to previous entries are few and far between and usually restricted to the film directly before each entry. As the Japanese film industry declined in the 1970s, the Godzilla films began to rely on lower budgets and the use of stock footage from previous entries. Following the box office failure of the fifteenth Godzilla film, Terror of Mechagodzilla, in 1975, the series was placed on hiatus.
After several failed attempts to continue the Godzilla series in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Toho finally produced a new film, The Return of Godzilla, to commemorate the series' 30th anniversary in 1984. The Return of Godzilla rebooted and revamped the series by ignoring all entries after the original film and returning the series to its darker, more serious and allegorical roots. The film was a success, and was followed by a sequel, Godzilla vs. Biollante, five years later in 1989. Toho soon resumed its practice of producing a new film in the series every year, with a Godzilla film seeing release annually from 1991 to 1995.
The Heisei series films, in comparison to the Showa series, generally feature more serious and grounded plots and attempt to provide social commentary on contemporary issues such as genetic engineering, corporate corruption, and environmentalism, among other topics. The science and nature behind Godzilla became a much more plot-relevant topic in these films. These films also share a stronger sense of continuity between them, with flashbacks and explicit callbacks to the events of previous films as well as returning characters being common. The Heisei series also introduced the first concrete onscreen origin story for Godzilla in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, showing him as a dinosaur called a Godzillasaurus that was mutated by nuclear radiation.
The Heisei series featured the return of many of Godzilla's allies and enemies from the Showa series, such as Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah and Mechagodzilla, as well as introducing new monsters such as Biollante and SpaceGodzilla.
Anticipating the release of TriStar Pictures' American Godzilla film and its potential sequels in the late 1990s, Toho decided to end the Godzilla series in 1995 by killing off Godzilla in the film Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. Toho then planned to place the series in a ten-year hiatus while the American films were released, then resume production in 2005. In the meantime, Toho produced a trilogy of spin-off movies revolving around Mothra and her son from 1996 to 1998, with the third entry even featuring a returning Godzilla antagonist: King Ghidorah. Toho also distributed Daiei's successful Gamera trilogy from 1995 to 1999.
Like the Showa series, the Heisei series is named after the reigning emperor of Japan at the time, in this case the Heisei emperor Akihito. However, while The Return of Godzilla was released five years before the political Heisei period actually began, it is counted as the first entry of the Heisei series due to coming almost a decade after the last Showa film, Terror of Mechagodzilla, and sharing continuity with the Heisei series films that followed it.
In October 1992, Toho allowed Sony Pictures to make a trilogy of domestically produced Godzilla films, with the first film to be tentatively released in 1994. In May 1993, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were brought on to write a script, and in July, 1994 Jan De Bont, director of Speed and Twister, signed on to direct. De Bont ultimately quit due to budget disputes, and director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin signed on before the release of the highly successful Independence Day. They rejected the previous script and wrote an entirely new treatment, while monster designer Patrick Tatopoulos radically redesigned the titular monster. The film was finally scheduled for release on May 19, 1998.
Godzilla was met with mostly negative reviews from critics and strongly negative reaction from the fan base. It also received backlash from Toho themselves, who proceeded to make Godzilla 2000: Millennium in apparent retaliation. Having grossed $375 million worldwide from the film, though, the studio moved ahead with an animated spin-off titled Godzilla: The Series, which was generally more well-received than the film.
Tab Murphy wrote a sequel treatment for the film, but Emmerich and Devlin left the production in March, 1999 due to budget disputes. Sony's original deal with Toho was to make a sequel within five years of release of a film, but after sitting on their property, considering a reboot, Sony's rights to make a Godzilla 2 expired in May of 2003, ending any chance of a sequel or new Godzilla film produced by the company. Toho later trademarked the version of Godzilla from the 1998 film as "Zilla" for all future appearances, claiming it "took the 'God' out of 'Godzilla,'" and featured it in the film Godzilla: Final Wars.
Ever since it had acquired the rights to the Godzilla franchise from Toho in 1992, Sony intended to produce a trilogy of American Godzilla films. Following the theatrical release of TriStar Pictures' Godzilla in 1998, TriStar immediately began work on Godzilla 2.
The film had been a financial success, earning over three times its budget, but it still performed below the studio's expectations and was met with almost universal backlash from fans and critics. Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were brought back to work on the sequel, while Tab Murphy wrote a screenplay for the film. The screenplay featured the lone offspring of the original Godzilla imprinting on Niko Tatopoulos and relocating to the Australian outback to raise its young, where it is hounded by the American military and a giant insect named the Queen Bitch.
Ultimately, TriStar could not come to a budget agreement with Emmerich, who dropped out to direct The Patriot instead. Sony and TriStar eventually abandoned the proposed sequel altogether, believing it would not be as profitable as the first film due to a lack of enthusiasm from moviegoers and interest from retailers.
Untitled Godzilla reboot
Following the abandonment of the sequels to Roland Emmerich's 1998 Godzilla, Sony held onto the rights to Godzilla until 2003, at which point they would expire unless Sony released a new film. In the aftermath of the backlash to it and TriStar's first take on an American Godzilla, Sony realized that it would be best to reboot the franchise again with a new film completely unrelated to the 1998 entry. However, Sony eventually decided against making another Godzilla film, and allowed their rights to revert to Toho in 2003.
The Millennium series is the third individual series of Godzilla films. Its name refers to these films' release coinciding with the start of the new millennium in the year 2000. Toho originally planned to hold off production of a new Godzilla film until 2005, but the poor reception and fan backlash received by TriStar Pictures' 1998 American Godzilla film convinced them to bring the series out of retirement early. The first entry in the Millennium series was Godzilla 2000: Millennium, released in December of 1999. This film featured a new, revamped version of Godzilla with a more feral design and huge jagged purple dorsal plates. Toho produced a new entry in the Millennium series each year from 1999 until 2004.
Unlike the Showa and Heisei films, the Millennium series took the characteristics of an anthology series, with each new entry disregarding the ones before it and using the original film as a jumping-off point. Due to the films' different continuities, both Godzilla's design and size could change dramatically from film to film. The films Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., sometimes collectively referred to as the "Kiryu Saga," are the only two films in the Millennium series to share continuity. Aside from the original film, these two films incorporate the events of numerous Toho kaiju films from the Showa series into their continuity, including Mothra and War of the Gargantuas. The Millennium series ended with Godzilla's 50th anniversary film, Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004, after which Toho decided to place the series on a ten-year hiatus in order to renew interest.
After the release of 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, marking the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla film franchise, Toho announced that it would not produce any films featuring the Godzilla character for ten years. Toho demolished the water stage on its lot used in numerous Godzilla films to stage water-based scenes.
Director Yoshimitsu Banno, who had directed 1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah, secured the rights from Toho to make an IMAX 3D short film production, based on a remake of the Godzilla vs. Hedorah story. Banno was unable to find backers to produce the film, causing it be delayed by several years. Banno later met American producer Brian Rogers, and the two planned to work together on the project. Rogers approached Legendary Pictures in 2009, and the project became a plan to produce a feature film instead.
In March, 2010, Legendary formally announced the project after it had acquired rights to make a Godzilla film from Toho Company Ltd., with a tentative release date of 2012. The project was co-produced with Warner Bros., who co-financed the project. Legendary said their film would not be a sequel to the 1998 Godzilla but a reboot to the franchise.
Legendary first promoted the planned new film at the San Diego Comic-Con International fan convention in July, 2010. Legendary commissioned a new conceptual artwork of Godzilla, consistent with the Japanese design of the monster. The artwork was used in an augmented reality display produced by Talking Dog Studios.
Every visitor to the convention was given a T-shirt illustrated with the concept art. When viewed by webcam at the Legendary Pictures booth, the image on-screen would spout radioactive breath and the distinctive Godzilla roar could be heard.
|“||This will definitely have a very different feel than the most recent U.S. film, and our biggest concern is making sure we get it right for the fans because we know their concerns. It must be brilliant in every category because I’m a fan as well.||„|
— Gareth Edwards on his plans for Godzilla
When Edwards' signing was announced, it was also announced that David Callaham's first draft was rejected and the film would be rewritten by a new writer. In July, 2011, Legendary announced that writer David Goyer would write the script however  on November 9, 2011, it was reported that Max Borenstein had been attached to write the film instead.
Legendary Pictures' Godzilla was released on May 16, 2014, and was financially successful, which was compounded by mostly positive responses from critics and fans alike. The film's success convinced Legendary to produce a trilogy of American Godzilla films, with the second installment, tentatively titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters, scheduled for a March 22, 2019 theatrical release. Legendary later acquired the rights to King Kong from its new partner Universal Pictures and began producing a reboot to the Kong franchise titled Kong: Skull Island, which was meant to reintroduce the character for an upcoming crossover film with Godzilla set for release on May 29, 2020.
Toho, meanwhile, was inspired by the film's success to begin production on their own new Japanese Godzilla film for summer of 2016.
During the ten-year hiatus following the close of the Millennium series, Toho reached an agreement with American studio Legendary Pictures to produce a new American Godzilla film, which was released in 2014. The film proved successful, convincing Toho that now was a good time to produce a new Godzilla film. Toho's new film, Shin Godzilla, was released in Japanese theaters on July 29, 2016, and in North American theaters on October 11, 2016.
Following the release of Shin Godzilla, a new animated Godzilla trilogy was announced to begin releasing in 2017, being produced by Toho and Polygon Pictures. The first film's title was later revealed to be Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, with a Japanese release date of November 17, 2017 being revealed. The film was later released on the Netflix streaming service on January 17, 2018 for territories outside of Japan.
The sequel to Planet of the Monsters, titled Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle was released in Japan on May 18, 2018, and on July 18, 2018 everywhere else. The third and final film in the animated trilogy, Godzilla: The Planet Eater, was released on November 7, 2018.
This series of films released by Toho would follow a general anthology format, much like the Millennium series, with Shin Godzilla and the anime trilogy being entirely unrelated to each other.
|“||After 2021, we’re thinking of a potential strategy that [releases] Godzilla movies uninterrupted at a rate of every 2 years, although there is a preference for a yearly pace as well. The future of the series and its forwarding developments are very conscious of the method of "shared universe". Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, etc. could all share a single world view much like a Marvel movie where Iron Man and the Hulk can crossover with each other. It is said that each movie can be a possible film production where any one of them could lead a film of their own as the titular character.||„|
— Keiji Ota
It is set to begin sometime following 2021, due to the circumstances behind the current contract between Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, with films set to release every two years, along with the potential for yearly releases as well.
Unmade North American films
After the Godzilla series went on hiatus following Terror of Mechagodzilla in 1975, Toho considered various projects to revive the series. Henry G. Saperstein, chief of UPA Productions and known for his collaboration with Toho on films such as Invasion of Astro-Monster and Frankenstein vs. Baragon, proposed a joint production between Toho and an American studio to produce a new Godzilla film with a relatively large projected budget of $6 million. Saperstein's friend Reuben Bercovitch was set to write a script for the film with Toho even including the project in their 1978 lineup, but it failed to progress past the planning stages.
The first talk of an American version of Godzilla was when director Steve Miner pitched his own take to Toho in 1983.
|“||The idea was to do a Godzilla film as if it was the first one ever done, a big-budget American special FX movie. Our Godzilla would have been a combination of everything - man-in-suit, stop-motion and other stuff.||„|
— Steve Minor on Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D
Fred Dekker had written the screenplay.
|“||We had a big Godzilla trying to find its baby. It's a bit of a Gorgo storyline. The big ending has Godzilla destroying San Francisco. The final Godzilla death scene was to be on Alcatraz Island.||„|
— Fred Dekker, writer of King of the Monsters' screenplay
Toho and Warner Bros. were said to be very interested in Miner's take but it eventually became too expensive, with no studio willing to back it.
In 1992, Toho sold the film rights for Godzilla to Sony Pictures Entertainment, allowing it to produce a trilogy of American-made Godzilla films. Sony designated the project to their subsidiary TriStar Pictures, who hired Ted Eliott and Terry Rossio to write a screenplay. The screenplay featured Godzilla taking on an alien beast known as the Gryphon, with the final battle taking pace in New York.
Jan De Bont, fresh off his success directing Speed, signed on to direct the film, with Stan Winston Studios contracted to provide the creature effects. Ultimately, studio executives were unwilling to agree with the budget De Bont wanted for the film, forcing him to drop out of the project. Rewrites were performed to reduce the budget, but the studio was unable to find directors willing to take on the project. Ultimately, this draft was discarded when TriStar brought in Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, who decided to take the production in an entirely different direction.
After Toho announced the Godzilla series would be placed on hiatus following Godzilla: Final Wars, Yoshimitsu Banno, director of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, acquired the rights to direct a new short IMAX Godzilla film. Banno decided to make the film an American production, with an American cast and a final battle set in Las Vegas. The film was projected to be 40 minutes long and revolve around Godzilla battling a pollution-based creature called Deathla across North America.
Banno planned for the film to be released in the United States in 2007, with a Japanese release to follow. However, Banno was unable to secure funding from Toho in a timely fashion and the production continued to be delayed over the next few years. Brian Rogers, a producer for the film, approached American studio Legendary Pictures to receive further funding for the film. Legendary was interested in a Godzilla project, but wanted to produce a new big-budget feature-length film rather than an IMAX short film. When Toho approved Legendary's plans, Godzilla 3D to the MAX was scrapped and Banno was brought on as an executive producer for Legendary's Godzilla.
Films by series
The following is a list of all official film entries in the Godzilla franchise, divided by the series they belong to and including the years of release.
- Godzilla (1954)
- Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
- King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
- Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
- Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
- Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)
- Son of Godzilla (1967)
- Destroy All Monsters (1968)
- All Monsters Attack (1969)
- Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
- Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
- Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
- Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
- The Return of Godzilla (1984)
- Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
- Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
- Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
- Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
- Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
- Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)
- Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
- Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
- Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
- Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
- Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
- Shin Godzilla (2016)
- Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)
- Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)
- Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
- Main article: Category:Godzilla film series: Unmade films.
The Godzilla series also spawned a series of books published by Random House during the late 1990s. The company created different series for different age groups, the Scott Ciencin series being aimed at children.
Comics and manga
Several manga have been derived from specific Godzilla films, and both Marvel and Dark Horse Comics have published Godzilla comic book series in the United States (1977–1979 and 1987–1999, respectively).
In 2011, IDW Publishing started a new series titled Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters, which was followed by two sequel series; Godzilla: Ongoing and Godzilla: Rulers of Earth. IDW has also produced numerous comic miniseries featuring Godzilla.
Blue Öyster Cult released the song "Godzilla" in 1977. It references Godzilla's habit of destroying Tokyo, and the introduction to the live version (1982) directly references Godzilla Raids Again, "...lurking for millions of years, encased in a block of ice, evil incarnate, waiting to be melted down and to rise again."
The French death metal band Gojira is named after Godzilla's Japanese name.
The song "Simon Says" by Pharoahe Monch is a hip-hop remix of the Godzilla March theme song. The instrumental version of this song was notably used in the 2000 film Charlie's Angels. Toho actually sued Pharoahe Monch for using their music without permission in the song, and forced the record label to discontinue the album.
British band Lostprophets released a song called "We Are Godzilla, You Are Japan" on their second studio album Start Something.
The American punk band Groovie Ghoulies released a song called 'Hats Off To You (Godzilla)' as a tribute to Godzilla. It is featured on the EP 'Freaks on Parade' released in 2002.
The American artist Doctor Steel released a song called 'Atomic Superstar' about Godzilla on his album "People of Earth" in 2002.
Label Shifty issued compilation Destroysall with 15 songs from 15 bands, ranging from hardcore punk to doom-laden death metal. Not all songs are dedicated to Godzilla, but all do appear connected to monsters from Toho studios. Fittingly, the disc was released on August 1, 2003, the 35th anniversary of the Japanese release of Destroy All Monsters.
A tie-in album called Godzilla: The Album was released to coincide with TriStar Pictures' 1998 American Godzilla film. The album featured two tracks from David Arnold's score for the film, while the rest of the album consisted of songs from contemporary hip-hop, pop and alternative artists. Three songs from the album received music videos, each of which featured Godzilla in them.
Putting the Godzilla films' suits and effects crew to further use were several Japanese tokusatsu television shows such as Ulta Q, Ultraman and the Toho-produced Zone Fighter, Go! Godman and Go! Greenman. In 1992 and 1993, Toho produced a trivia show titled Adventure! Godzilland to promote the then-upcoming films Godzilla vs. Mothra and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II.
This show later inspired a series of four educational OVAs titled Recommend! Godzilland which were released in 1994 and 1996. The 1997 television series Godzilla Island portrayed Godzilla and his various kaiju costars with Bandai action figures.
The success of the Godzilla franchise has spawned two American Saturday morning cartoons: The Godzilla Power Hour and Godzilla: The Series. Both series feature an investigative scientific team who call upon Godzilla as an ally. The series make several homages to the Shōwa films and several antagonist monsters have been inspired by extant Toho creations.
The Godzilla Power Hour was produced by Henry G. Saperstein, a collaborator of Toho's during the Showa era whose company UPA co-produced the film Invasion of Astro-Monster and distributed several other Godzilla films in the United States.
Godzilla: The Series was created as a sequel to TriStar Pictures' 1998 film Godzilla, but received acclaim among many fans who despised the film due to returning Godzilla's trademark characteristics to the titular monster.
In 1991, two Godzilla films, Godzilla vs. Megalon and Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, were shown on the movie-mocking program, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Main article: Category:Godzilla video games.
Godzilla has starred in numerous video games since the medium's rise in the early 1980s. Games featuring Godzilla have been released for numerous consoles from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the PlayStation 4, and numerous mobile games featuring Godzilla have even been developed.
The most recent console video game based on the franchise was the 2014 Godzilla video game, which was developed by Natsume Atari and published by Bandai Namco on the PlayStation 3 and 4 systems in Japan and the United States in 2014 and 2015.
The next console game featuring Godzilla, City Shrouded in Shadow, was developed by Granzella and Bandai Namco for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, and also features appearances by Ultraman and characters from the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- Main article: Godzilla in popular culture.
Godzilla is one of the most recognizable symbols of Japanese popular culture worldwide and remains an important facet of Japanese films, embodying the kaiju subset of the tokusatsu genre. He has been considered a filmographic metaphor for the United States (with the "-zilla" part of his name being used in vernacular language as a suffix to indicate something of exaggerate proportions), as well as an allegory of nuclear weapons in general.
The earlier Godzilla films, especially the original Godzilla, portrayed Godzilla as a frightening, nuclear monster. Godzilla represented the fears that many Japanese held about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the possibility of recurrence.
Much of Godzilla's popularity in the United States can be credited with TV broadcasts of Toho's monster movies during the 1960s and 1970s. The American company UPA contracted with Toho to distribute its monster movies of the time, and UPA continues to hold the license today for the Godzilla films of the 1960s and 1970s. Sony currently holds some of those rights, as well as the rights to every Godzilla film produced from 1991 onward. The Blue Öyster Cult song "Godzilla" also contributed to the popularity of the movies. The character also made an appearance in a Nike commercial, in which Godzilla went one-on-one with NBA star Charles Barkley.
At least two prehistoric creatures from the fossil record have been named after Godzilla. The first, Gojirasaurus Quayi was a theropod dinosaur that lived in the Triassic Period; a partial skeleton was unearthed in Quay County, New Mexico. The second, known as Dakosaurus andiniensis, was a crocodile from the Jurassic Period, and was nicknamed "Godzilla" before being scientifically classified.
In 2010, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society named their most recently acquired scout vessel MV Gojira. Toho served them with a notice to remove the name and in response the boat's name was changed in May 2011 to MV Brigitte Bardot.
- Main article: List of Godzilla monsters.
The Godzilla series features numerous daikaiju, or "giant monsters," the most famous being Godzilla himself. Godzilla films are often characterized by featuring Godzilla battling with various other kaiju. The following is a list of some of the most famous recurring monsters in the series.
- Main article: Godzilla.
The primary monster in the franchise, Godzilla is often recognized by the title "King of the Monsters," and is considered the most powerful kaiju in the series. A giant irradiated prehistoric reptile, Godzilla made his debut in the 1954 film Godzilla and has appeared in nearly 30 films since. Godzilla's alignment varies between being a violent menace that threatens humanity or a heroic savior who defends Japan from aliens and other monsters.
Generally, Godzilla is portrayed as a highly territorial and destructive, yet intelligent creature who holds no love for humanity, but often ends up defending the planet from greater threats to it than him. In each series, Godzilla at some point ends up having an adopted son, who acts as a bridge between Godzilla and humanity and shows Godzilla's softer and more caring nature.
- Main article: Anguirus.
The first monster to ever battle Godzilla, Anguirus debuted in the 1955 film Godzilla Raids Again. Anguirus is a giant ankylosaur, with a spiky carapace that he often uses in battle. Anguirus is generally perceived as weaker than Godzilla and many of the other monsters, lacking any extraordinary abilities such as a beam weapon, but he is extremely bold and fierce and is willing to take on any opponent, no matter its size. Despite debuting as Godzilla's enemy, Anguirus has since become Godzilla's most frequent ally and in various media is often portrayed as Godzilla's closest friend.
- Main article: Rodan.
Rodan is a giant Pteranodon that first appeared in the 1956 film Rodan. Rodan is an incredibly fast flier, easily breaking the sound barrier any time he takes flight. Rodan first encountered Godzilla in the film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster in 1964, where he was initially his enemy and ultimately joined forces with him against King Ghidorah.
Like Anguirus, Rodan is one of Godzilla's most frequent allies, and has earned a reputation as one of the most famous and well-known monsters in the franchise. Rodan is one of four monsters besides Godzilla to appear in all three eras of Godzilla films, and is confirmed to be featured in the upcoming American film Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
- Main article: Mothra.
Mothra is a giant divine moth who resides on the remote Infant Island, watching over the tribe of natives who worship her as their deity. Mothra first appeared in the 1961 film Mothra, then made her debut in the Godzilla series in Mothra vs. Godzilla in 1964. Unlike most other kaiju, Mothra is perceived as benevolent and friendly to humanity, using two miniature fairies often called the Shobijin to communicate with humans.
Mothra frequently is seen carrying out the lepidopteran life cycle, beginning life as a giant egg which hatches into a huge larva, which eventually builds a cocoon and transforms into an imago. Mothra has been Godzilla's ally and his enemy in the past, aiding him in battle against extraterrestrial threats such as King Ghidorah and battling him when he threatens humanity. Mothra is by far Godzilla's most famous supporting as well as the first female monster in the series, appearing in all three eras of Godzilla films as well as the upcoming American Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and even received her own spin-off trilogy of films starring her and her son Mothra Leo.
- Main article: King Ghidorah.
A giant three-headed golden dragon, King Ghidorah is widely considered to be Godzilla's arch-enemy. King Ghidorah made his debut in the film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster in 1964 as an evil extraterrestrial terror bent on destroying the Earth, forcing Godzilla to join forces with Mothra and Rodan to stop him. King Ghidorah returned in several films in the Showa series, with Godzilla seeking help from other monsters to stop him each time. King Ghidorah was reintroduced in the Heisei series film Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, where he was the result of Futurians (terrorists from the future) exposing three creatures called Dorat to a hydrogen bomb test.
King Ghidorah received a more powerful mechanical form called Mecha-King Ghidorah in this film as well. In the Millennium series film Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, King Ghidorah was reinvented as an ancient guardian monster defending Japan from Godzilla. King Ghidorah also made an appearance as the main antagonist in the film Rebirth of Mothra III. Other monsters based on King Ghidorah have also appeared: Desghidorah in Rebirth of Mothra and Keizer Ghidorah in Godzilla: Final Wars.
- Main article: Mechagodzilla.
Mechagodzilla is a robotic duplicate of Godzilla, and one of the most popular recurring monsters in the series. The first version of Mechagodzilla debuted in the film Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla in 1974, where it was controlled by the Black Hole Planet 3 Aliens and used as part of their attempted conquest of Earth, only to be defeated by the combined might of Godzilla and King Caesar. This version of Mechagodzilla was featured in the next year's film Terror of Mechagodzilla, where it was rebuilt by its alien masters and teamed with Titanosaurus to annihilate Tokyo.
The 2002 film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla introduced a third distinct iteration of Mechagodzilla, dubbed Kiryu, which was built around the skeleton of the original Godzilla from 1954 and used to fight the current Godzilla. Kiryu was also featured in the film Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. the next year.
Mechagodzilla, like Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah, is one of the only monsters besides Godzilla himself to appear in all three eras of Japanese Godzilla films.
- Main article: Godzilla Junior.
Godzilla Junior, like Minilla before him, filled the role of Godzilla's son in the Heisei series. Junior first appeared in the film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II as Baby Godzilla, an infant Godzillasaurus found in Rodan's nest that is discovered by Japanese scientists and raised by a human researcher named Azusa Gojo. At the film's end, Baby is adopted by Godzilla and forced to part with his human mother.
In the next film, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, Baby had grown from exposure to Godzilla's radiation and become known as Little Godzilla. Little Godzilla was abducted by SpaceGodzilla, forcing Godzilla to join forces with the mecha M.O.G.U.E.R.A. to rescue him. In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Junior had grown into a sub-adult and was heading to his nest on Adonoa Island, only to be diverted to Tokyo and battle Destoroyah.
Junior was ultimately killed by Destoroyah, only to be revived by energy released by his adoptive father when he melted down and become the new Godzilla. Junior is similar to Minilla, being a young member of Godzilla's species who is friendly towards humans and cared for by Godzilla. Unlike Minilla, Junior ultimately reached adulthood and actually took his father's place.
- Main article: Gigan.
Gigan is a cybernetic alien creature that first appeared in the film Godzilla vs. Gigan in 1972, where he teamed up with King Ghidorah to destroy human civilization under the command of the M Space Hunter Nebula Aliens.
Gigan and King Ghidorah were repelled by the combined might of Godzilla and Anguirus, but the monster was called upon again a year later in Godzilla vs. Megalon, where he aided Megalon against Godzilla and Jet Jaguar. Gigan was defeated once more, but was taken control of by the Garogas and featured in the show Zone Fighter, where he battled Godzilla once more and was ultimately killed by Zone Fighter.
Although his first two films were not well-received, Gigan became incredibly popular, earning a reputation as a brutal and sadistic opponent, and one of Godzilla's most nefarious enemies. Gigan finally returned in a film in 2004, as one of the primary antagonists in Godzilla: Final Wars. Gigan battled Godzilla twice, once with the aid of Monster X, but was defeated both times and ultimately destroyed by Mothra.
- 1955 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects (Godzilla)
- 2007 Saturn Awards – Best DVD Classic Film Release (Godzilla)
- 1965 Japan Academy Award – Best Score (Mothra vs. Godzilla)
- 1966 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects (Invasion of Astro-Monster)
- 1986 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects and Newcomer of the Year (The Return of Godzilla)
- 1986 Razzie Awards – Worst Supporting Actor and Worst New Star (The Return of Godzilla)
- 1992 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah)
- 1993 Tokyo Sports Movie Awards – Best Leading Actor (Godzilla vs. Mothra)
- 1993 Best Grossing Films Award – Golden Award and Money-Making Star Award (Godzilla vs. Mothra)
- 1993 Japan Academy Award – Best Score (Godzilla vs. Mothra)
- 1994 Japan Academy Award – Best Score (Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla)
- 1995 Best Grossing Films Award – Silver Award (Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla)
- 1996 Best Grossing Films Award – Golden Award (Godzilla vs. Destoroyah)
- In 1996, after his then-final appearance in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Godzilla received an award for Lifetime Achievement at the MTV Movie Awards. Creator and producer Shōgo Tomiyama accepted on his behalf via satellite but was joined by "Godzilla" himself.
- 1996 Japan Academy Award – Special Effects (Godzilla vs. Destoroyah)
- 1996 MTV Movie Awards – Lifetime Achievement*
- 1998 Golden Raspberry Awards – Worst Supporting Actress and Worst Remake or Sequel (Godzilla (1998 film))
- 1999 Saturn Awards – Best Special Effects (Godzilla (1998 film))
- 2001 Saturn Awards – Best Home Video Release (Godzilla 2000: Millennium)
- 2002 Best Grossing Films Award – Silver Award (Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack)
- 2004 Hollywood Walk of Fame
- 2014 Japan Cool Content Contribution Award (Godzilla)
This is a list of references for Godzilla (franchise). These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: