Jeremy enjoys reviewing cinema and television when not working as a chemist.
With his enormous size, iconic roar, and fearsome atomic breath, Godzilla has long dominated as cinema's most prominent monster. Popular in both Japan and America, Godzilla has enjoyed dozens of movies since his initial 1954 appearance, and with a renewed surge after 2014's well-received Godzilla film, he's more prominent than ever.
In addition to films, Godzilla has been featured in video games, television programs, and novels, offering several media types for fans to enjoy. But with many decades of movies to explore, what are Godzilla's biggest secrets? Here are ten awesome facts about Japan's most famous kaiju!
|Godzilla||Height (meters)||First Appearance|
The Return of Godzilla (1984)
TriStar Godzilla (Zilla)
119 (final form)
Shin Godzilla (2016)
Godzilla: Monster Apocalypse (2017)
10. There Are Several Godzillas of Varying Sizes
Although we tend to think of "Godzilla" as one entity, there's actually been dozens of Godzillas throughout the years. They vary greatly in size but are generally growing larger as time passes, with Legendary, Shin, and especially Godzilla Earth being the biggest yet. And that's not even counting cloned forms like SpaceGodzilla and Mechagodzilla.
Godzilla's morality also shifts back and forth; sometimes acting as a ruthless tyrant destroyer, others serving as Earth's protector. Still, even the "evil" Godzillas are somewhat sympathetic considering...
9. Godzilla Warns Against the Dangers of Atomic Bombs
In his debut 1954 appearance, Godzilla rampaged through Tokyo, leaving its government scrambling to destroy him before being completely annihilated Japan. However, in most of his chaotic appearances, Godzilla isn't just a mindless predator, but a victim of man.
The exact details fluctuate between movies, but often Godzilla is awakened or created by man's usage of atomic bombs; in the original film, it's suggested Godzilla's family was wiped out by the weapons, and his outburst is in vengeance. Remember, Godzilla first appeared in 1954—less than a decade after Japan was bombed in World War 2, and he reminds us of the dangers that weapons of mass destruction possess.
8. Godzilla Created "Suitmation"
Godzilla's first appearance created the art of "suitmation", or having an actor inside a suit portray a giant character (earlier films like King Kong used stop-motion animation). With no precedents to lean on, it's impressive how well the designers constructed the costume, although it was challenging to wear. The suit was heavy, hot, and hard to breathe in—most actors could only last three minutes at once.
While CGI has become more prominent in American film-making, Japanese crews often still employ suitmation (or blend it with CGI), leading to various art styles that help distinguish Godzilla's numerous adventures.
7. Godzilla Inspired Video Game and Trading Card Monsters
It's no surprise that Godzilla has inspired several movie clones, but his influence even stretches to other popular series. For instance, Perfect Chaos, the final boss of video game Sonic Adventure, is inspired by both Godzilla and Biollante, and several Yu-Gi-Oh cards are designed around various Godzilla monsters. In particular, "Dogoran, the Mad Flame Kaiju" was gleaned from Burning Godzilla in 1995's Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
Godzilla also partnered with candy bar Snickers for a commercial advertising the 2014 film, notable for using the largest Godzilla suit ever made.
6. Godzilla's Biggest Weakness is Ice
Godzilla's powers and weaknesses change between appearances, but his most consistent vulnerability is ice. Examples include the Japanese military freezing Burning Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Godzilla being frozen for seven years in Godzilla Raids Again, and Godzilla forced into hibernation by a man-made snowstorm in Son of Godzilla.
5. Godzilla's Original Suit Was Brown
Godzilla's modern colors alternate between shades of green, blue, and charcoal gray, but his original suit was actually brown—we just couldn't tell since the movie was in black and white. Whether this was intentional or the color hadn't yet been finalized due to technical limitations isn't clear, but it's difficult to imagine ocean-dwelling Godzilla in such an earthy shade.
Godzilla's Japanese title, Gojira, combines the words of gorilla and whale, but neither of those animals are brown either. Regardless, Godzilla's somber hues fit his aquatic nature and help distinguish him from brown kaiju ally Anguirus.
4. Godzilla Has Risen From the Dead
Multiple times, actually. Most notably, the original Godzilla (who perished at the end of his movie) was revived from the souls of deceased WW2 soldiers in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Godzilla also revived his son Junior (who became the new Godzilla) in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, and the original adult Zilla from 1998's Godzilla was later reborn as Cyber-Godzilla in the animated series through alien technology.
3. Godzilla Can Fly With His Atomic Breath
Godzilla movies run the gamut from serious battles over Earth's fate to cheesy contests between bumbling titans. One of Godzilla's most unbelievable feats appears in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, where the King of Monsters uses his atomic breath to fly after his foe by aiming it at the ground (sometimes called his "back-charge" technique).
That's not his only eyebrow-raising move, though. There's also the Godzilla tail-slide kick seen in Godzilla vs. Megalon and his victory dance after defeating King Ghidorah in Invasion of Astro-Monster.
2. Godzilla Has a Timid Son, Minilla
We're not talking about Godzilla Junior, who tooks his dad's place in Godzilla vs. Destroyah, but Minilla, the rather-ugly offspring seen in Son of Godzilla. Even Godzilla initially wants nothing to do with his kid, but Minilla eventually earns his father's respect by helping him beat the spider monster Kumonga.
Minilla is more docile and friendly towards humanity than most kaiju, and he even shrinks to human size and speaks to young boy Ichiro in a dream sequence of All Monsters Attack. Sadly, this wasn't the only instance of kaiju speech...
1. Godzilla Actually Talks in Some Movies
Godzilla had his roars translated by Mothra's priestesses in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, but in perhaps the weirdest Godzilla scene ever made, he and Anguirus outright converse with each other in Godzilla vs. Gigan. Their voices are distorted, so at times it's difficult to tell they're speaking English, but the surreal conversation (which isn't particularly well-written) is as follows:
- Godzilla: Hey, Angilas (Anguirus)!
- Anguirus: Whaddya want?
- Godzilla: Something funny going on. You better check.
- Anguirus: Okay!
- Godzilla: Hurry up!
From the odd voices to the campy dialogue and the fact that Godzilla's talking at all, this remains an especially strange scene from one of Godzilla's least-popular movies.
Upcoming Godzilla Movies
Thanks to our reptilian king's rekindled fandom, we have several kaiju outings on the horizon, with 2019's Godzilla: King of Monsters featuring Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah. After that comes the long-awaited rematch with King Kong (who originally brawled in 1962's King Kong vs. Godzilla) with 2020's Godzilla vs. Kong.
Hopefully these films can live up to Godzilla's massive reputation and inspire even more monster battles. But for now, as we eagerly await our overgrown lizard's next adventure, vote for your favorite Godzilla monster and I'll see you at our next movie countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Jennifer B from Bolingbrook on January 12, 2019:
This is great
Liz Westwood from UK on January 10, 2019:
Godzilla is definitely an enduring monster. I thought his first outing was earlier than 1954, but maybe I am getting him confused with King Kong.
Zia Uddin from UK on January 09, 2019:
Nice facts on Godzilla. Will vote up and share.