With the new Godzilla movie coming out this Friday, we thought it could be a good time to take a look at how the King of Monsters has changed since it’s origin. Godzilla has been in 35 movies, video games, comics, and TV shows, since his creation in 1954. Both Godzilla and his films fall under the name Kaiju, which means both large monsters, as well as movies about large monsters.
Rebirth of Japanese Cinema.
The Pacific Theater of World War II ended after America dropped two nuclear bombs on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. During this time, for obvious reasons, the film industry in Japan was virtually non-existent, primarily only producing propaganda regarding the war. The 1950s, however, are considered the Golden Age of Japanese film making, due to the creation of films such as Seven Samurai, Rashomon (the film popular for telling the same story from three different perspectives), as well as Godzilla.
A giant prehistoric, underwater mythical beast, by the name Godzilla, has recently been disturbed from his habitat. Because of the influence of the previous decade, the disturbance was caused by US hydrogen bomb testing in the Pacific Ocean. This mutated and angered angered Godzilla and caused him to come to land in a fit of destruction. Godzilla appears to be highly resistant to bullets and conventional weapons, though has an “atomic breath” that causes unbelievable destruction. The only way the Japanese are able to defeat Godzilla, is with a device that destroys oxygen molecules from the air, thus suffocating the monster.
In Kaiju storytelling, the monsters don’t necessarily want to eat people, or take resources, only destroy. Their origins are widely unknown, as are their motivations. Godzilla was actually the first Kaiju in Japanese history and culture, as there are no Kaiju styled monsters or stories in Japanese folklore. Godzilla is the first, and greatest, Kaiju.
Godzilla Growth and Powers
Over time, Godzilla has changed, and there have been at least 18 different iterations on the design, with height ranging from 50m (164ft) to 318m (1043ft), length ranging from 100m (328ft) to 333m (1092ft), and weight ranging from 500 tons to 100,000 tons.
Godzillas primary power is his atomic breath, which appears to be sourced form the spikes along his back, as they tend to glow before he activates the power.
Some other powers he’s received over time include
- Atomic Pulse (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah)
- Magnetism (Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla)
- Precognition (Godzilla vs. Biollante)
- Flight (Godzilla vs. Hedorah)
- Fireballs (Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee)
- Electric Bite (CR Godzilla Pachinko)
- Superhuman Speed (Zone Fighter)
- Eye Beams (The Godzilla Power Hour)
Overtime, however, powers have not been the primary draw of Kaiju films. Whether it be from one of the Godzilla franchises, to Pacific Rim, to children’s shows such as Power Rangers, the draw of Kaiju films has been to see what people are willing and able to do to protect the city. Just like in superhero movies, the villain can have powers and skills, but it’s only to force our heroes to go to further lengths to save the world.
As stated before, Godzilla was the first Kaiju, as well as Godzilla being the first Kaiju film. Therefore, over time, many other Kaiju monsters have been created. Here are some of the more popular Kaiju that Godzilla has either fought against, or with.
- King Ghidorah – a three headed golden dragon
- Mechagodzilla – a robot version of Godzilla
- Biollante – a monster that is half Godzilla, half plant
- Mothra – Literally a giant moth, that protects Earth
- Gigan – a sentient being, made of blades
- Destroyah – Godzillas most powerful opponent
- Anguirus – an armadillo, also Godzilla’s sidekick
- Hedorah – a giant pile of toxic sludge
- Rodan – Pterodactyl monster
- King Kong – Giant Gorilla
- There are more than 12 more!
Kaiju are such a broad range of monsters, that really anything can become Kaiju, if it is large and destructive enough. There’s not an agreement on whether or not dinosaurs count as Kaiju, as they were real creatures, not fiction, but it would not be particularly out of place if a dinosaur made an appearance in a modern day setting Kaiju film.
New Godzilla Movie
This Friday, we will see the new release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which is the third film in an at least four film franchise, the first being 2014s Godzilla, then Kong: Skull Island, and will be followed by Godzilla vs. Kong next year. This cinematic universe is known as the MonsterVerse.
This new film will have Godzilla fighting against Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Rodan, and will feature an incredible cast including Ken Watanabe, Millie Bobby Brown, and Thomas Middleditch.