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Godzilla (from the Japanese: Gojira meaning, approximately, gorilla-whale), is a fictional creature (kaiju) featured in a number of popular Japanese films made by Toho Studios since 1954.

A 300-foot high, 20,000 ton, fire-breathing dinosaur, he typically emerges from hibernation to demolish major cities, especially Tokyo, and fight hand-to-hand with a selection of monstrous foes, notable amongst whom are Mothra (a gigantic moth), King Ghidorah (a three-headed golden space dragon), and Rodan (a huge pterodactyl). In the original 1954 film and many subsequent films, Godzilla has been portrayed as a menace to humanity, while in others he acts as a savior and guardian. In Son of Godzilla, he is shown to be a stern but conscientious father.

Being traditionally portrayed by a man in a suit, in contrast to the stop-motion animation techniques used for films such as King Kong, allows Godzilla an almost human range of dramatic expression, at the expense of entirely convincing special effects. Though the versions commonly available in the West are often badly edited and cheaply dubbed, production values for Godzilla films are surprisingly high.

In addition to city-trampling and monster fights, science fiction themes such as robotics, mind control, and alien invasion are commonly featured. Leading human characters typically exhibit extreme devotion to duty and a readiness to make heroic self-sacrifices.

Godzilla (1998)

In 1998, German/American director Roland Emmerich remade the original film Godzilla using CGI and a whole new setting and story. This film switches the action from Tokyo to New York City and uses state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery (CGI) to represent the titular monster. The film garnered heavy criticism by fans of the original, who criticized the fact that the film did not contain the anti-nuclear message present in the original and had redesigned the creature. The 1998 film could be considered a revamp rather than a remake, mostly due to the different appearance of "Godzilla", who, rather than a mutated dinosaur was changed to an iguana mutated by nuclear fallout.

Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

In 2004, Toho produced Godzilla: Final Wars in which they showed their disapproval of the 1998 version. In this film, an organization called the EDF (Earth Defense Force), which is composed of humans called "mutants", has been formed to counter the monster attacks that take place periodically. However, an alien race known as the Xilians takes control of many of the monsters on earth (one of which is the Roland Emmerich version of Godzilla, now called "Zilla") and directs them to attack many of Earth's major cities. Then they capture them, appearing to mankind as benevolent. However, when their true intentions of eating humans is revealed, they release the monsters on the cities to continue their destruction. Eventually, Godzilla (who was imprisoned in the ice) is freed, and proceeds to defeat each and every one of the monsters. He starts with "Zilla", who he defeats in 45 seconds (to show how much "better" the original Godzilla is). He then goes on to destroy the rest of them, ending the Xilian threat.

Godzilla (2014)

In 2014, another remake was released. Directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ken Watanabe. The film garnered mostly positive reviews, as the Godzilla in this film resembled the original design of the character, as opposed to the 1998 film. However, some were critical as Godzilla does not get much screentime in the film.


  • Godzilla/Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954)
  • Godzilla Raids Again(aka Gigantis, the Fire Monster) (1955)
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
  • Mothra vs. Godzilla(aka Godzilla Vs. The Thing) (1964)
  • Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
  • Invasion of Astro-Monster(aka Godzilla Vs. Monster Zero) (1965)
  • Ebirah, Horror of the Deep(aka Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster) (1966)
  • Son of Godzilla (1967)
  • Destroy All Monsters (1968)
  • All Monsters Attack(aka Godzilla's Revenge) (1969)
  • Godzilla vs. Hedorah(aka Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster) (1971)
  • Godzilla vs. Gigan(aka Godzilla on Monster Island) (1972)
  • Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla(Godzilla Vs the Cosmic/Bionic Monster) (1974)
  • Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
  • The Return of Godzilla/Godzilla 1985 (1984)
  • Godzilla vs. Boillante (1989)
  • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
  • Godzilla vs. Mothra(aka Godzilla Vs. Queen Mothra, Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth) (1992)
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
  • Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
  • Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995)
  • GODZILLA (1998) - American remake
  • Godzilla 2000: Millennium(aka Godzilla 2000) (1999)
  • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
  • Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack(aka GMK (fan acronym)) (2001)
  • Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla(aka Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla III(3)(Japanese Title)(2002)
  • Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.(aka Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla/Kiryu:Tokyo SOS) (2003)
  • Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
  • Godzilla 3D to the MAX(aka Godzilla 3D) (2008) - 3D Imax release
  • Godzilla (2014)


Further reading

  • Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters, by William Tsutsui, Palgrave MacMillan, 2004