- This article covers the adult Godzilla from the 1998 film. For its revived cybernetic form, see Cyber Godzilla. For its offspring, see Baby Godzilla (TriStar). For the Godzilla from Godzilla: The Series, see Godzilla (Godzilla: The Series). For any post-2004 incarnations of this Godzilla, see Zilla.
He's not some monster trying to evade you. He's just an animal. If you find what he wants, then he'll come to you.
It is the first incarnation of Godzilla to appear in an American-made film and the fourth onscreen incarnation of the character overall. The TriStar Godzilla is very different from previous incarnations of the character, being a mutated iguana rather than a prehistoric creature. His appearance is more reminiscent of modern reconstructions of theropod dinosaurs, and he lacks some of Godzilla's most well-known traits, such as atomic breath and immunity to conventional weaponry. Instead, this Godzilla relies on his speed and animalistic cunning to evade attackers and ambush them rather than fight them head-on. This Godzilla was ultimately killed at the end of his debut film, but one of his asexually-produced offspring survived and grew into the next Godzilla in Godzilla: The Series, an animated sequel to the 1998 film. This Godzilla's carcass was eventually salvaged by the Leviathan Aliens and converted into a cyborg dubbed Cyber Godzilla as part of the aliens' plan to use monsters to overtake the Earth.
The TriStar Godzilla became particularly controversial among the fanbase due to his departure from previous versions of the character, and Toho themselves responded to this controversy in the film Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack in the form of dialogue mentioning a monster similar to Godzilla recently attacking New York City, though Japanese experts doubt it is Godzilla. When TriStar's rights to the character expired in 2003, Toho assumed ownership of the TriStar Godzilla and reintroduced it as a new character called "Zilla" in the film Godzilla: Final Wars, who has itself since been featured in other Godzilla media licensed by Toho.
Name[edit | edit source]
The monster is initially called by its Japanese name, "Gojira," in the film, when a Japanese sailor witnesses the creature attack his boat and believes it to be a legendary sea monster. Before a recording of the sailor becomes public, the U.S. military gives it the codename "Fred", as shown briefly on a monitor after it destroys a submarine. Eventually, reporter Charles Caiman gives it the name Godzilla by mispronouncing "Gojira."
When TriStar's rights to the Godzilla franchise expired in 2003; the rights to this incarnation of Godzilla reverted to Toho, who re-trademarked it as a new character called Zilla, as according to Shogo Tomiyama it "took the 'God' out of 'Godzilla.'" All further incarnations of this version of Godzilla will therefore be known as "Zilla." However, new merchandise of the 1998 incarnation of the monster will still use the name "Godzilla" to refer to it, as demonstrated by the recent DefoReal Godzilla (1998) figure produced by X-Plus and the various Godzilla 1998 ornaments released by Cast.
This version of Godzilla is also commonly referred to by fans as G.I.N.O. (also spelled GINO and Gino), an acronym for "Godzilla In Name Only." This term was coined by Richard Pusateri in January 1998. Some Japanese sources contemporary with the film called this incarnation America Godzilla (アメリカゴジラ, Amerika Gojira) while the official Japanese nickname for its design is ToraGoji (トラゴジ), which comes from combining and shortening "TriStar" and Godzilla's Japanese name, Gojira. At the beginning of Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, the monster is alluded to as a "giant creature resembling Godzilla" (ゴジラに酷似した巨大生物. Gojira ni kokuji shita kyodai seibutsu)
Development[edit | edit source]
The idea of an American Godzilla film was considered as early as 1983, when Steve Miner proposed a project called Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D. Concept art and maquettes for this Godzilla's design, which resembled a hybrid of Godzilla's traditional design and dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex, were completed before the film was abandoned.
When TriStar Pictures acquired the rights to produce a Godzilla film in 1992, it hired Ted Eliott and Terry Rossio to write a script for the film, which was completed in 1994. The Godzilla featured in this script would be a creature genetically engineered from the DNA of dinosaurs by an ancient civilization to defend the Earth. It would retain most of the characteristics of the Japanese Godzilla, including the mostly upright stance, immunity to conventional weaponry, and atomic breath. Carlos Huante, Ricardo Delgado, and several other artists prepared concept art of Godzilla and his proposed enemy, the Gryphon, before Stan Winston received the contract to design the monsters. This version of the film was ultimately scrapped after Sony executives could not come to a budget agreement with director Jan De Bont, who subsequently left the project.
When Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were brought on to handle the film, they discarded Eliott and Rossio's script and re-envisioned Godzilla as a mutated iguana spawned by nuclear testing. They hired Patrick Tatopoulos to design the new Godzilla. Emmerich sent him Toho's extensive design guidelines via fax, but the artist never received it, reimagining the character as a lean, swift creature capable of running extremely fast. Tatopoulos took his prominent chin from Shere Khan, the villainous tiger in Disney's Jungle Book. Emmerich and Devlin decided to make their Godzilla susceptible conventional weaponry, instead having him rely on his speed and cunning to evade the military. This Godzilla would lack the character's traditional abilities, such as atomic breath, instead posing a threat by asexually producing hundreds of offspring. When Emmerich and Devlin revealed a maquette of the design to Toho executives, they were stunned, but approved it the following day with only minor caveats. Tatopoulos had designed Godzilla with two rows of dorsal plates and five fingers on each hand; Toho wanted three and four, respectively.
1983 Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D storyboard
Stan Winston's unused 1994 American Godzilla design
Design[edit | edit source]
- Main article: ToraGoji.
The TriStar Godzilla differs greatly in appearance from most other incarnations of Godzilla. Physically, the creature resembles modern depictions of theropod dinosaurs, specifically dromaeosaurids, with some inspiration from iguanas and crocodilians. He has a rough, square-shaped underbite and a pronounced chin, a long and thick neck with a small, spiky dewlap, large, fin-shaped scutes instead of the character's traditional maple leaf-shaped dorsal plates, and long, powerful legs and arms. His mouth is lipless with numerous small, pyramid-shaped teeth that are always visible, even when his mouth is closed, and stick out over both his upper and lower jaws, much like a crocodile. His eyes are fiery-looking, with bright yellow pupils and orange sclera. Each of his 13.7-meter-long feet possess three large, dinosaur-like primary digits on the front and a much smaller, seemingly vestigial, hallux on the back.
Personality[edit | edit source]
The TriStar Godzilla is an elusive, animalistic, yet clever creature. He does not prefer to confront his attackers head on, but rather evade and confuse them before attacking them back. This strategy allows him to survive several encounters with the U.S. military. In one instance, Godzilla even fakes his own death after two Ohio Class Nuclear-Powered Subs fire torpedoes at him. According to Niko Tatopoulos, Godzilla is not acting maliciously, but is simply providing for his own survival and that of his offspring. The destruction Godzilla causes is generally the result of his gigantic size as he searches for food or attempts to evade the military. Godzilla is visibly saddened and enraged after he finds his offspring dead in the ruins of Madison Square Garden, and seems to associate the humans who are present as being responsible, immediately giving chase after them.
Origins[edit | edit source]
The TriStar Godzilla is a mutated creature that hatched from an iguana egg that was exposed to a 1968 French nuclear test conducted in Moruroa Atoll of French Polynesia. The creature apparently grew over a period of 30 years, and by the year 1998 had reached a size of about 180 feet as a result of his mutation.
History[edit | edit source]
In 1998, the Japanese fishing vessel Kobayashi-Maru was sunk at sea by a gigantic creature, leaving only a single survivor. The creature dredged the shipwreck ashore in Panama, leaving behind a trail of footprints across the island. Believing the monster was the result of a secret nuclear test their country had conducted in French Polynesia 30 years ago, the French government authorized a team of secret servicemen led by Philippe Roaché to investigate. Posing as an insurance agent, Philippe investigated the shipwreck, which had its entire payload of tuna removed, and interviewed the only survivor of the incident. The survivor had been exposed to a great deal of radiation during the attack and claimed he saw Gojira, a giant sea monster from Japanese legend. In the meantime, the American military deployed forces to Panama to further investigate the incident, and established a scientific team composed of Niko "Nick" Tatopoulos, Elsie Chapman and Mendel Craven to determine what caused it. Elsie proposed the shipwreck and footprints were left behind by some kind of huge lost dinosaur, but Nick believed otherwise. He hypothesized that the animal was a brand new hybrid spawned from exposure to nuclear radiation, a new mutant species created as a side effect of human activity.
Sometime later, the creature traveled up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, causing multiple shipwrecks as it approached New York City. Finally, the creature, a huge reptilian creature standing approximately 180 feet in height, came ashore in Manhattan, tearing apart the docks and wandering through the city, causing extensive damage before vanishing into the urban jungle. Taken completely by surprise by the attack, the military scrambled to evacuate the city and prepare countermeasures against the monster. Nick determined that the monster was piscivorous, and proposed a plan to lure it into Flatiron Square with 20,000 pounds of fish. The plan was set into motion, with a mound of fish being dumped into the street and military forces being stationed around the area. After manhole covers in the area were opened, the creature broke through the street and began eating the fish. Nick took photographs of the beast before the military opened fire on it. The monster fled from the military's attack, and began picking off the AH-64 Apache choppers deployed after him one-by-one. In the end, the monster evaded the assault, with the military inflicting more damage on the city than he did. Nick was able to recover a blood sample from the creature left behind by the attack, and after close analysis discovered that the creature was capable of asexual reproduction and about to lay eggs. Nick's former college sweetheart, Audrey Timmonds, reunited with him and stole some of his classified videotapes about the monster, intending to use them to advance her aspirations as a news reporter. Audrey's boss, Charles Caiman, stole the story and reported it on live television, giving the monster the name "Godzilla" after mispronouncing Gojira. When the military found out, they promptly kicked Nick off the task force dealing with the monster. Nick was subsequently kidnapped by Philippe and his men, who wanted to work with Nick to find Godzilla's nest under the city before his young could hatch.
The military prepared for another assault against Godzilla in Central Park. Once Godzilla surfaced and entered the park, the military opened fire on him, sending him into retreat again. Godzilla dove into the Hudson River, where two Ohio Class Nuclear-Powered Subs and one Los Angeles-Class Nuclear Attack Sub were waiting for him. The submarines locked onto Godzilla and fired torpedoes at him while he attempted to burrow to safety. The torpedoes struck the monster, and he sank to the bottom of the river. The military declared Godzilla dead, and the city breathed a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, Philippe's team, secretly followed by Audrey and her cameraman Victor "Animal" Palotti, made their way through the subway tunnels under New York until they discovered Godzilla's nest inside Madison Square Garden, which contained 228 eggs and a large supply of fish to feed the young. The eggs began hatching into Baby Godzillas, who caught the smell of fish on Nick and the others and began attacking them. Eventually, Nick and Philippe met up with Audrey and Animal, and they all boarded themselves inside the arena's media room. Using the broadcasting equipment, Audrey broadcast a live news report to the city showing the Baby Godzillas roaming through the arena and warning of the threat. Major Anthony Hicks ordered three F-18 Hornets to blow up the arena, and gave Nick and the others a brief window to flee. Using an assault rifle to shoot down chandeliers on the ceiling, Philippe cleared a path for himself and the others to escape just before the arena exploded with all the Baby Godzillas still inside.
The four believed they were finally victorious but were proven wrong when the still-living adult Godzilla rose up from under the street. After seeing the charred corpses of his young, Godzilla became enraged and started chasing the humans. They quickly hijacked a taxi and began fleeing from the monster, who chased them across the city. Nick established contact with the military, warning them that Godzilla was still alive. The taxi began luring Godzilla to the Brooklyn Bridge so that he could be easily targeted by the military, but the creature caught the cab in his mouth. Thankfully, they were able to electrocute the monster's mouth with jumper cables, making him roar in pain and allowing the cab to drive back out onto the bridge. Godzilla continued giving chase, jumping onto the bridge and quickly becoming ensnared in the suspension cables. With Godzilla trapped, the three F-18 Hornets flew overhead and unleashed their payload on the stationary monster. Godzilla roared out in pain, and after a number of direct hits finally collapsed to the ground. Nick stared into Godzilla's eyes as the monster breathed his last and finally died. New York immediately erupted into celebration, with the threat of Godzilla finally eliminated.
However, inside the smoldering ruins of Madison Square Garden, a lone egg hatched.
After his death, Godzilla's body was taken to the Sandy Point military base where it was studied. The base was eventually overtaken by the Leviathan Aliens, 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 the second Godzilla arrived to save them, he refused to fight his father and was taken under the control of the Leviathan Aliens. 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 Leviathan Alien control were then sent out to various cities in order to destroy them. Cyber Godzilla was chosen for Tokyo.
The other mutations were saved from the control of the Leviathan Aliens, but Cyber Godzilla 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, with Godzilla ripping off Cyber Godzilla's robotic arm and tearing out his internal mechanisms, killing him again.
Abilities[edit | edit source]
While lacking the Japanese Godzilla's degree of durability and atomic breath, the TriStar Godzilla has demonstrated several unique abilities of his own.
Physical strength[edit | edit source]
While not as physically powerful as the Japanese Godzilla, the TriStar Godzilla has shown a high amount of physical strength. He is able to sink three fishing boats by pulling them underwater despite them moving at full speed. He also dredged a large freighter onto shore with ease.
Agility[edit | edit source]
Godzilla is extremely agile, possessing a land speed of over 300 miles per hour.[note 4] This speed was showcased 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.
Camouflage[edit | edit source]
Godzilla's skin color allows him to blend in well with New York City's architecture. He also possesses an incredibly low body temperature, which renders him colder than his surroundings and unable to be detected by the military's thermal scanning.
Biting and slashing[edit | edit source]
Godzilla has five-foot-long teeth and six-foot-long talons, which allow him to burrow through tough surfaces and chomp steel helicopters with little recoil.
Burrowing[edit | edit source]
Godzilla also has shown 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.
Durability[edit | edit source]
Small arms fire is useless against Godzilla, as are standard tank rounds. The F-18 Hornet's missile compliment proved strong enough to kill him; however, it required at least 12 missiles to kill him.
Power breath[edit | edit source]
The TriStar Godzilla lacks the Japanese Godzilla's iconic atomic breath, though he possesses 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.
Atomic breath[edit | edit source]
When this Godzilla was revived and upgraded as Cyber Godzilla in Godzilla: The Series, he gained a blue atomic breath, much like the Japanese Godzilla's. 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.
Reproduction[edit | edit source]
The TriStar Godzilla is 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 TriStar Godzilla is officially recognized as a male creature, even in spite of its reproductive ability. Niko Tatopoulos even describes Godzilla as a "very unusual he" after discovering its reproductive ability. In Godzilla: The Series, Nick also refers to the creature as the "daddy" of the Godzilla featured in the series. Despite the monster's official gender, designer Patrick Tatopoulos has revealed that female genitalia were sculpted onto Godzilla's CGI model, though this is not plainly visible in the film.
Intelligence[edit | edit source]
While the TriStar Godzilla relies on instinct to a greater degree than the Japanese Godzilla, he is still shown to be capable of thinking in the midst of a battle and forming strategies. Throughout the film, Godzilla eludes the U.S. military, causing them to ultimately cause more damage to New York City than he does. Using his speed and camouflage, Godzilla evades several military helicopters and attacks them from behind. Later, he fakes his death by two torpedoes, causing the military to call off their attacks and allowing Godzilla to resurface later.
Weaknesses[edit | edit source]
Unlike the Japanese Godzilla, the TriStar Godzilla is not immune to conventional weaponry, and relies on his cunning and speed to survive the military's attacks. While he is able to withstand or evade standard guns, helicopter firepower, tanks, and even nuclear powered submarine torpedoes, he is finally killed after being lured onto the Brooklyn Bridge and becoming entangled by the suspension cables, leaving him helpless against the missile strikes of three F-18 Hornets.
Filmography[edit | edit source]
- GODZILLA (1998)
- Godzilla: The Series (TV 1998-2000) [as Godzilla and Cyber Godzilla]
- Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) [referenced]
Video games[edit | edit source]
- G-Patrol VR: Combat Simulator (1997) - PC
- GODZILLA (1998) - Pinball
- GODZILLA: Online (1998) - PC
- GODZILLA: Virtual Shakin' (1998) - Handheld electronic game
- Godzilla: Trading Battle (1998) - Sony PlayStation
- Godzilla Generations (1998) - Sega Dreamcast
- Collect Godzilla: Giant Monster Assembly (1998) - Sega Dreamcast VMU
- Godzilla: The Series - Monster Wars (2000) - Nintendo Game Boy Color [as Cyber Godzilla]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
- Main article: ToraGoji.
Roar[edit | edit source]
The TriStar Godzilla's roars seem to be a mix between the roars of the Japanese Godzilla from the 1960s-1970s and elephant sounds, demonstrated when he got hit by torpedoes and groaned like an elephant. When submerged, Godzilla made a moaning sound created from the song of a humpback whale. Gary A. Hecker, Frank Welker, and the film's sound designer, Scott Martin Gershin, also contributed vocals.
The TriStar Godzilla's roars were later used for the Japanese Godzilla in the American version of Godzilla 2000, his cameo appearance in Always: Sunset on Third Street 2, and for an official trailer for the English-language release of the Godzilla PlayStation 3 and 4 video game. His surviving offspring from Godzilla: The Series and Zilla in Godzilla: Final Wars also used these same roars, only slightly modified. The roars were later reused for the MonsterVerse Godzilla in the trailer for the Godzilla vs. Kong x PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Mobile collaboration.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- Though his appearance may suggest otherwise, the TriStar Godzilla is a mutated iguana, and not a dinosaur or prehistoric reptile like the Japanese Godzilla.
- At only 500 tons in weight, the TriStar Godzilla is the lightest known incarnation of Godzilla. Interestingly, this Godzilla's offspring in Godzilla: The Series is stated to weigh 60,000 metric tons in the episode Cash of the Titans, the same weight as the Heisei incarnation of Godzilla.
- 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."
- The TriStar Godzilla became incredibly controversial among both American and Japanese Godzilla fans, due to his drastic departure from the character's traditional appearance and characteristics. Toho would humorously acknowledge this controversy in the 2001 film Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, where one character mentions that a giant monster recently attacked New York City. A soldier asks his comrade if the monster was Godzilla, and the other responds that the American experts seem to believe so, though the Japanese doubt it.
- After TriStar's rights to Godzilla expired in 2003, Toho took ownership of the TriStar Godzilla and re-trademarked it as a new character called Zilla that was featured in the 2004 film Godzilla: Final Wars, where it is quickly killed onscreen by the Japanese Godzilla. According to Shogo Tomiyama, the monster was given the name Zilla because in his words TriStar "took the 'God' out of 'Godzilla'" with their incarnation of the character.
- In an interview with Starlog, Dean Devlin mentioned that in several earlier drafts of the 1998 film, Godzilla was to have been created by aliens rather than nuclear testing. Devlin said that the filmmakers stuck with Godzilla's traditional nuclear origin because it was something they "felt strongly about not abandoning" and that they thought "it was too important to what Godzilla is all about."
- In GODZILLA: Monster Apocalypse, the prequel novel for GODZILLA: Planet of the Monsters, Zilla and Gorosaurus are given a shared chapter which goes into detail about the destruction they caused within the timeline. Zilla is given a role directly inspired by the worst case scenario proposed by Nick in the 1998 film, where it can reproduce asexually and tons of its offspring overrun the city, becoming a pest kaiju. Zilla also attacks France, a reference to the French being responsible for the TriStar Godzilla's creation. Text from the novel says: "If you leave one young one alive, no, if you leave just an egg behind, it'll hatch and reproduce all over again"; also, "The big ones are dangerous, but the young ones were more troublesome. They're intelligent and act in herds. The young ones act as decoys for the tanks while the adults attack from the rooftops"; additionally, "It was more difficult to free the city besieged by Zilla than any other monster."
- In the 80th Academy Awards opening, for a brief moment Peter Jackson's King Kong can be seeing fighting against Godzilla
Video[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The novelization for the 1998 film states that Godzilla is over 180 feet (54.864 meters) tall, while Japanese sources, such as Godzilla Dictionary [New Edition] (p. 303), elect to approximate this to simply 54 meters. The film's Japanese theater program states that Godzilla is 60 meters tall at the neck while leaning forward, while Godzilla 1954-1999 Super Complete Works (p. 58) claims that Godzilla's height is approximately "70 meters or more."
- The novelization for the 1998 film repeatedly states that Godzilla is over 300 feet (91.44 meters) long from head to tail; however, some publications like Shin Godzilla Walker: The New Legend of the King of the Monsters elect to approximate this to simply 90 meters.
- The Official GODZILLA Movie Fact Book claims that Godzilla's tail is 256 feet (roughly 78 meters) long by itself, while the film's novelization states that it is 200 feet long.
- The Official GODZILLA Movie Fact Book states that Godzilla's top speed is only 300 miles per hour.
References[edit | edit source]
This is a list of references for Godzilla/TriStar. 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: 
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