Godzilla (franchise)

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Godzilla (ゴジラ,   Gojira) is a popular series of giant monster films, games, comics, toys, and any licensed products featuring the character Godzilla. Starting in 1954, the Godzilla series has become the longest-running film series in movie history.

The first film, Godzilla, was first released in the United States in 1955 in Japanese-American communities only. 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 29 live-action films produced by Toho, three anime films produced by TOHO Animation and animated by Polygon Pictures, four American-made Hollywood adaptations, and countless books, comics, television shows, video games, toys, and other merchandise. Legendary Pictures' recent 2014 film adaptation has launched a shared cinematic universe featuring King Kong, and was followed by a sequel and a crossover film with King Kong. Toho, meanwhile released its own reboot to the series titled Shin Godzilla in 2016 to enormous critical and box office success. In addition, an animated Godzilla film was released in Japanese theaters in 2017, with two sequels following in 2018.

The original Godzilla 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. Godzilla would go on to inspire other giant monster films such as Gorgo, Gamera, Yongary, Monster from the Deep, 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.

Series history[edit | edit source]

The Godzilla series consists of 29 numbered film entries produced by the Japanese studio Toho, a trilogy of animated films produced by TOHO animation and animated by Polygon Pictures, as well as three Hollywood adaptations produced by the American studios TriStar Pictures and Legendary Pictures, respectively. The Toho films are broken up into three distinct eras, the Showa, Heisei, Millennium, and Reiwa series, each with its own characteristic style and corresponding to a different time period. 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 Reiwa series refers to the current political era of Japan, the Reiwa period, although all of the films currently comprising this series were released during the political Heisei period.

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, light-hearted adventure films aimed towards children, and everything in between.

Showa Series (19541975)[edit | edit source]

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 the 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 weapon 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 costars, 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 child 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 arguable 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 1970's, 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.

Heisei Series (19841995)[edit | edit source]

After several failed attempts to continue the Godzilla series in the late 1970's and early 1980's, 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 attempt to include more serious and grounded plots and provide social commentary on contemporary issues such as genetic engineering, corporate corruption, environmentalism and others. 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 returned many of Godzilla's costars 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 1990's, Toho decided to bring the Godzilla series to a temporary end 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 Godzilla costar 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.

Millennium Series (19992004)[edit | edit source]

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 The 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.

Reiwa Series (2016–)[edit | edit source]

During the ten-year hiatus following the close of the Millennium series, Toho reached an agreement with American studio Legendary Pictures allowing it to produce a new American Godzilla film. In the meantime, Toho began pre-production on their first new Godzilla film since 2004. Legendary's Godzilla proved successful, convincing Toho that now was the time to release their next Godzilla film, which would be unconnected to any other entry in the series. Shin Godzilla was released to Japanese theaters on July 29, 2016, to both critical acclaim and resounding box office success. Shin Godzilla is not counted as part of the Millennium series, and thus signaled the start of an entirely new "era" of Godzilla films, later designated as the Reiwa series. Shortly after the film's release, Toho announced production of an animated Godzilla film for 2017. Toho later revealed that the animated film, titled GODZILLA: Planet of the Monsters, was to be the first entry of a trilogy of animated Godzilla films. The second film, GODZILLA: City on the Edge of Battle, was released theatrically in Japan in May 2018, and the conclusion, GODZILLA: The Planet Eater, was released in November 2018. The three anime films were released worldwide on Netflix exactly two months after their Japanese theatrical premieres.

Due to the terms of Toho's contract with Legendary Pictures, they cannot produce another live-action Godzilla film until after Legendary's third American Godzilla film, Godzilla vs. Kong, is released in 2021.[1] According to Toho's "Chief Godzilla Officer," Keiji Ota, the studio currently does not plan to produce a Shin Godzilla 2, but rather hopes to launch a "World of Godzilla," a new cinematic universe featuring Godzilla and the other monsters it owns, following the release of the fourth MonsterVerse entry.

American films[edit | edit source]

While Invasion of Astro-Monster was co-produced by UPA in 1965, the first Godzilla film produced exclusively by an American studio was TriStar Pictures' GODZILLA in 1998. Legendary Pictures made Godzilla in 2014 and Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019, with Godzilla vs. Kong scheduled for a 2021 release. There are several unrealized American-made Godzilla films as well outside of the few that have been produced.

Unmade American films[edit | edit source]

U.S.-Japan Collaboration: Godzilla[edit | edit source]
Main article: U.S.-Japan Collaboration: Godzilla.

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. It has been speculated that the film would have featured Godzilla battling one of the Gargantuas from The War of the Gargantuas, which Saperstein also produced, but there is no confirmation of this.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D[edit | edit source]
Main article: Godzilla: King of the Monsters 3-D.

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." Miner said. "Our Godzilla would have been a combination of everything - man-in-suit, stop-motion and other stuff." 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." 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.

Godzilla (1994)[edit | edit source]
Main article: Godzilla (1994 film).

In 1992, Toho sold the film rights to 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.

GODZILLA 2[edit | edit source]
Main article: Godzilla 2 (Unmade 1998 film sequel).

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.

Godzilla Reborn[edit | edit source]
Main article: Godzilla Reborn.

Following TriStar Pictures' American theatrical release of Toho's Godzilla 2000: Millennium, Mike Schlesinger, who had produced the American version of the film, became interested in producing an American-made sequel to the film, as Toho had been very complimentary of his edit to Godzilla 2000. Schlesinger approached the head of production at TriStar's partner studio, Columbia Pictures, and proposed a sequel to Godzilla 2000 to be made with traditional man-in-suit special effects and a projected budget of $20 million. Schlesinger was asked to write a screenplay for the film, which featured Godzilla battling a creature called Miba in Hawaii. Toho approved the screenplay after asking Schlesinger to change Godzilla being killed in the film to being placed in a coma, but Columbia's new head of production claimed the studio was not interested in such a low-budget film, sealing its fate.

Untitled Godzilla reboot[edit | edit source]

Following the abandonment of the sequels to Roland Emmerich's 1998 GODZILLA and the rejection of Mike Schlesinger's Godzilla Reborn, 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.

Godzilla 3-D[edit | edit source]
Main article: Godzilla 3-D.

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 3-D was scrapped and Banno was brought on as an executive producer for Legendary's Godzilla.

TriStar Pictures (1998)[edit | edit source]

Main article: Godzilla (1998 film).

In October 1992, Toho allowed Sony Pictures to make a trilogy of English-language 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.[2]

GODZILLA was met with mostly negative reviews from critics and strongly negative reaction from the fan base. This backlash led Toho to see demand for a new Japanese Godzilla film, and they brought their series out of retirement early in 1999 with Godzilla 2000: Millennium. Having grossed $375 million worldwide from the film, though, TriStar 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 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 a new character called "Zilla" for all future appearances, claiming it "took the 'God' out of 'Godzilla,'" and featured it in the film Godzilla: Final Wars.

MonsterVerse (2014-)[edit | edit source]

Main articles: Godzilla (2014 film), Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla vs. Kong.

Before the release of 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, marking the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla film franchise, producer Shogo Tomiyama announced that Toho would not produce any films featuring the Godzilla character for at least ten years.[3] Yoshimitsu Banno, who had directed 1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah, secured the rights from Toho to make an IMAX 3-D short film production, but had difficulty finding financial backers. Eventually, Legendary Pictures expressed interest in making a feature-length Godzilla film. Banno, along with fellow producers Kenji Okuhira and Brian Rogers, would ultimately return the Godzilla rights to Toho, allowing them to draw up a new contract with Legendary. All three would be credited as producers or executive producers on Legendary's film, which was announced in March 2010, with a tentative release date of 2012. The project was co-produced with Warner Bros., who co-financed the project.[4][5] Gareth Edwards, who directed the 2010 independent film Monsters, signed on as the director in January 2011.[6][7] Edwards said of his plans, "This will definitely have a very different feel than the most recent US 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."[8]

Legendary Pictures' Godzilla was released on May 16, 2014, and was financially successful, receiving mostly positive responses from critics and fans alike. Legendary announced two sequels after the film's opening weekend, both to be tentatively directed by Edwards. At San Diego Comic Con the same year, the studio revealed that it had secured the rights for Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Rodan to appear in the followups. In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter learned that Legendary's 2017 film Kong: Skull Island would be set in the same universe as Godzilla, in the hopes of setting up a rematch between the two monsters for Godzilla 3.[9] Edwards departed Godzilla 2 in 2016 and was replaced by Michael Dougherty, who also revised Max Borenstein's script with Zach Shields. In 2017, Legendary trademarked its Godzilla and Kong film franchise as the MonsterVerse. Kong: Skull Island was a success, and plans for Kong to appear in the tentatively-titled Godzilla 3 proceeded, with Adam Wingard signing on as director. The first Godzilla sequel, now titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters, was released on May 31, 2019. Godzilla vs. Kong is currently scheduled for release on May 21, 2021.

Films by series[edit | edit source]

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.

Showa era[edit | edit source]

Heisei era[edit | edit source]

Millennium era[edit | edit source]

Reiwa era[edit | edit source]

American films[edit | edit source]

TriStar Pictures[edit | edit source]

Legendary Pictures MonsterVerse[edit | edit source]

Unmade Films[edit | edit source]

Main article: Category:Unmade Films.

Monsters[edit | edit source]

Main article: List of Godzilla monsters.

The Godzilla series features numerous kaiju, or "giant monsters," the most famous being Godzilla himself. Godzilla films are often characterized by featuring Godzilla doing battle with various other kaiju. The following is a list of some of the most famous recurring monsters in the series.

  • 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 over 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.
  • Anguirus - The first monster to 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.
  • 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 of the first three eras of Godzilla films, and was also featured in the recent American film Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
  • 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 costar as well as the first female monster in the series, appearing in all of the first three eras of Godzilla films as well as the recent American film Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and even received her own spin-off trilogy of films starring her and her son Mothra Leo.
  • 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 terrorists from the future exposing three creatures called Dorats 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. Most recently, Ghidorah served as the antagonist in the third entry of the GODZILLA anime trilogy, GODZILLA: The Planet Eater, as well as the third entry in the MonsterVerse, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. 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.
  • Ebirah - A giant lobster that battled Godzilla in the 1966 film Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, Ebirah defended the waters around the mysterious Letchi Island, where the terrorist group known as the Red Bamboo operated. Ebirah confronted Godzilla twice in the water, with Godzilla emerging victorious and removing both of the beast's claws. Ebirah also made an appearance through stock footage in the film All Monsters Attack in 1969. Ebirah made his return decades later in the film Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004, where he battled Earth Defense Force soldiers at Tokai, then fought Godzilla at Tokyo Bay alongside Hedorah before being defeated.
  • Minilla - Minilla is Godzilla's son who first appeared in the film Son of Godzilla in 1967. Minilla was found by Godzilla on Sollgel Island, where the hatchling was being attacked by three Kamacuras. Godzilla defended the infant, then began to raise it as his own son and train him to take up his mantle. Unlike his father, Minilla is friendly towards humans and prefers to avoid conflict with other monsters when possible. Minilla returned in Destroy All Monsters, where he assisted Godzilla and the other Earth monsters against King Ghidorah. Minilla was a focus in the film All Monsters Attack, where a young boy named Ichiro Miki imagined himself on Monster Island, where he befriended Minilla and helped him fight back against the bully monster Gabara. Aside from stock footage, Minilla did not return in a film until Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004. Minilla was an attempt by Toho to increase the Godzilla series' appeal towards child audiences and further develop and humanize Godzilla as a character. Godzilla had another adopted son named Godzilla Junior in the Heisei series, who was based on Minilla but made slightly more realistic.
  • Kamacuras - Kamacuras is a giant praying mantis that debuted in Son of Godzilla in 1967. In the film, Kamacuras is the result of giant praying mantises native to Sollgel Island being mutated to kaiju size by a radiation storm. The Kamacuras were the secondary antagonists of the film, threatening Godzilla's son Minilla until they were all killed by either Godzilla or the film's primary villain, Kumonga. Kamacuras appeared briefly in the film All Monsters Attack in 1969, then did not appear again until Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004. Kamacuras also made a brief appearance during the opening credits sequence of GODZILLA: Planet of the Monsters.
  • Kumonga - A giant spider, Kumonga appeared in the film Son of Godzilla living on Sollgel Island. Kumonga captured Minilla and a Kamacuras with its web and prepared to feed on them both. However, Godzilla arrived and rescued Minilla, then joined forces with his son to defeat Kumonga. Kumonga returned in the film Destroy All Monsters, aiding Godzilla and the other Earth monsters against King Ghidorah in the final battle by firing its web at the dragon. Kumonga's next film appearance was in Godzilla: Final Wars, where it was mind-controlled by the Xiliens and forced to fight Godzilla in New Guinea.
  • Baragon - A giant subterranean reptile, Baragon first appeared in the 1965 film Frankenstein vs. Baragon, where he battled against a giant version of Frankenstein's monster. Baragon made his debut in the Godzilla series in 1968 in the film Destroy All Monsters, appearing in a few brief shots as one of the Earth monsters living on Monsterland. Despite his few film appearances, Baragon became incredibly popular among fans, and his costume was frequently modified and reused by Tsuburaya Productions in their Ultra series productions. Baragon returned in a film in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack in 2001, as the God of the Earth and an ancient guardian monster of Japan. Baragon maintains his popularity in part due to his perception as being "cute," due to his large ears and eyes and dog-like appearance.
  • Manda - Manda is a giant sea serpent that first appeared in the 1963 film Atragon. In this film, Manda was the guardian of the Mu Empire, and was sent to battle the Gotengo when it assaulted their kingdom. Manda joined the Godzilla series in Destroy All Monsters, as one of the monsters living on Monsterland who is controlled by the Kilaaks and forced to assault major cities. Manda attacked Tokyo along with Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra in this film, and was later present during the final battle against King Ghidorah, in which he did not directly take part. Manda later appeared at the beginning of Godzilla: Final Wars, where he battled the Gotengo underwater near the English Channel.
  • Hedorah - Hedorah, also known as the Smog Monster, is an alien spore creature from the Dark Gaseous Nebula of the Orion who arrived on the Earth in a meteor. Hedorah first appeared as Godzilla's opponent in the film Godzilla vs. Hedorah in 1971, where it terrorized Japan by feeding on pollution and spreading toxins throughout the environment. Hedorah proved to be one of Godzilla's toughest opponents, costing him an eye and a hand and requiring Godzilla to cooperate with humanity to finally defeat him. Hedorah returned in a minor role in 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, where it battled Godzilla in Tokyo Bay along with Ebirah while under the control of the Xiliens.
  • 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 monster 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.
  • 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. A second version of Mechagodzilla was featured in the film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, where it was constructed by the United Nations to combat Godzilla and protect humanity. 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. A fourth incarnation of Mechagodzilla was introduced in the 2017 animated film GODZILLA: Planet of the Monsters and played a major role in the film's 2018 sequel, where it had grown into a mechanized fortress dubbed "Mechagodzilla City" 20,000 years in the future. 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.
  • King Caesar - King Caesar is a monster directly based on the mythical Shisa creature of Okinawan mythology. King Caesar was featured in the film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, where he aided Godzilla in battle against Mechagodzilla in Okinawa. King Caesar is unique among kaiju in that he is mammalian in appearance, but also appears to not be organic in nature, instead being constructed primarily of bricks and stone. King Caesar returned in the film Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004, where he was controlled by the Xiliens and forced to attack Okinawa, then joined with Rodan and Anguirus at Mount Fuji to fight Godzilla. Unlike most of Godzilla's opponents in the film, King Caesar, Rodan and Anguirus were all spared by Godzilla, a nod to their status as his allies in the Showa series.
  • 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 LittleGodzilla. LittleGodzilla was abducted by SpaceGodzilla, forcing Godzilla to join forces with the mecha MOGUERA 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.
  • Orga - Godzilla's first new foe of the Millennium series, Orga was the result of the Millennian aliens absorbing Godzilla's Organizer G-1, the substance in his cells that grants him his impressive regeneration, in their quest to adapt to the Earth's environment and establish an empire. The aliens could not handle the Organizer G-1, and mutated into the hulking Orga. Orga battled Godzilla in Tokyo, ultimately being destroyed after attempting to swallow Godzilla headfirst, with Godzilla unleashing a lethal nuclear pulse while inside of his enemy's maw. Orga returned to the big screen briefly in the opening credits sequence of GODZILLA: Planet of the Monsters, which depicts his attack on Turkey in May of 2022. This attack is explored in greater detail in the film's official prequel novel, GODZILLA: Monster Apocalypse.

Other media[edit | edit source]

Books[edit | edit source]

Godzilla also had his own series of books published by Random House during the late 1990's. The company created different series for different age groups, the Scott Ciencin series being aimed at children. 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.

Music[edit | edit source]

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 the first Godzilla movie "...lurking for millions of years, encased in a block of ice, evil incarnate, waiting to be melted down and to rise again." The song was covered by Ser Tankian and featured in the 2019 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters, playing over the end credits.

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.

American singer Kesha has the song "Godzilla" in her album Rainbow.

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.

Television[edit | edit source]

Putting the Godzilla films' suits and effects crew to further use were several Japanese tokusatsu television shows such as Ultra 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 Get Going! 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: Hanna-Barbera's Godzilla 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. Hanna-Barbera's Godzilla 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 GODZILLA film, but received acclaim among many fans who despised the film due to returning Godzilla's trademark characteristics to the titular monster. Following a Godzilla-based audition campaign held by the collaborative project GEMSTONE, Godziban debuted on Toho's Godzilla Channel on YouTube on August 9, 2019. A multi-segmented show aimed at children, it features a large cast of kaiju including Godzilla-kun, Little, Minilla, Moshu Moshu, Hedoji, Hedochi, and Jet Jaguar, all portrayed using puppets and/or animation. The first season concluded on December 31, 2019, with a second season airing in 2020.

In 2021, Toho will collaborate with animation studios Bones and Orange to produce an animated Godzilla series entitled Godzilla: Singular Point, which will stream internationally via Netflix after airing on Japanese television beginning in April.

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.

Video games[edit | edit source]

Main article: Category:Video Games.

Godzilla has starred in numerous video games since the medium's rise in the early 1980's. Games featuring Godzilla have been released for numerous consoles from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the PlayStation 4, and even numerous mobile games featuring Godzilla have been developed. The most recent console video game based on the franchise, Bandai Namco's Godzilla, 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. A survival horror game featuring Godzilla, City Shrouded in Shadow, was developed by Granzella and Bandai Namco for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, and also featured appearances by Ultraman, Gamera, and characters from the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Cultural impact[edit | edit source]

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.[10]

Much of Godzilla's popularity in the United States can be credited with TV broadcasts of the Toho 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 1960's and 1970's. 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. Gojirasaurus quayi is a theropod dinosaur that lived in the Triassic Period; a partial skeleton was unearthed in Quay County, New Mexico. Dakosaurus andiniensis, a crocodile from the Jurassic Period, was nicknamed "Godzilla" before being scientifically classified.

In 2010 the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society named their most recently acquired scout vessel MV Gojira. The Godzilla Franchise 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.[11]

Awards[edit | edit source]

  • 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 (Godzilla 1985)
  • 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 II)
  • 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 Shogo 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)
  • 1999 Saturn Awards – Best Special Effects (GODZILLA)
  • 2001 Saturn Awards – Best Home Video Release (Godzilla 2000)
  • 2002 Best Grossing Films Award – Silver Award (Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack)
  • 2004 Hollywood Walk of Fame[12]
  • 2014 Japan Cool Content Contribution Award (Godzilla)
  • 2017 90th Kinema Junpo Awards - Best Screenwriter (Shin Godzilla)
  • 2017 38th Yokohama Film Festival - Special Grand Prize (Shin Godzilla)
  • 2017 59th Blue Ribbon Awards - Best Film (Shin Godzilla)
  • 2017 71st Mainichi Film Awards - Best Film, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Art Direction (Shin Godzilla)
  • 2017 11th Asian Film Awards - Best Visual Effects (Shin Godzilla)
  • 2017 40th Japan Academy Awards - Picture of the Year, Director of the Year, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Lighting Direction, Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing (Shin Godzilla)
  • 2019 7th VFX-JAPAN Awards - Best Animated Theatrical Film (GODZILLA: City on the Edge of Battle)

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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: [1]


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