The King of the King of the Monsters
Godzilla — The King of the Monsters. Few can contest this title, with a wealth of footage to show what happens when something tries. Since 1954 the big atomic lizard has been duking it out with buildings, armies, and other giant monsters hell bent on destruction, and while the films, fights and monsters themselves are often ranked against each other, there is one question I feel is still left to be asked.
Even with some of the stories featuring alternate Earths and timelines, we’re only ever shown a single Godzilla at a time, triumphing over lesser opponents. What if however, we were to treat every film as the portrayal of a completely unique and independent Godzilla, and we brought all of them together for a little bit of a meet and greet. Imagine then what would go down were these powerhouses of destruction to go head-to-head in one gigantic “Kaiju free-for-all”. Who would be emerge as The King of the King of the Monsters?
Over the next month, I’ll endeavour to bring you an answer. I’ll undertake the challenge of watching all 31 feature films (in no particular order), each day adding a new article with a short review of one of the Godzilla from each. Once all 31 have been scored on a set of criteria, we’ll hopefully have an answer for who would come out on top in this hypothetical battle royal.
Remember, the overall quality of the films is irrelevant, this is about Godzilla himself, your personal vendetta against Matthew Broderick holds no sway here.
When Godzilla enters the room, everyone shuts the hell up and lets him go about his business. If some uppity soldier decides maybe they’ll be the one to get lucky with their teeny fighter jet, Godzilla shoots them a quick glance to say “really friend?” and then gets back to the task at hand – ensuring the rest of those kaiju gibroni’s remember who runs this town.
Leaving a large majority of the murder and destruction to his giant winged enemies, Godzilla is elusive for a long while before finally surfacing and tearing a path through the US, so seems void of any cold-hearted hatred for humanity.
Despite lacking in the building trampling and public destruction department, he does decapitate a monster with his atomic breath, and the people of America respected the hell out of that.
We all saw the kitchen scene in Jurassic Park, now imagine the kitchen is Manhattan, and there’s only one (admittedly large) raptor, and that raptor eats fish not people. While his stomping is notable, he spends most of his time scurrying around the maze of Manhattan looking for the cheese at the centre instead of just tearing the place apart.
Sure Godzilla is agile, but his arms are always in t-rex mode, he has some sort of fire breath (not atomic) that he can only manage to blow up cars with, and he spends a lot of time burrowing and hiding underground while people run around mildly flustered over the whole situation. I guess the tender moment him and Simba shared really put the publics fears at ease.
This Godzilla isn’t a menacing unit of destruction, he’s a giant aquatic raptor, except not as terrifying as that, so really more of a pescatarian lizard rat.
A creature of legend, appeased through history only with ritual sacrifice, and possessing newly acquired atomic powers. This thing is more of a folk horror than atomic lizard.
Rising ominously from the depths, Godzilla attacks in waves, wreaking havoc and then returning to the ocean in between assaults. While this has people constantly on edge, when he does hit land, his attack of choice is “flailing wildly and screaming”. Yes, this is more like a tantrum than a brutally destructive onslaught, but surely nothing could be more horrifying than a gigantic atomic toddler.
Add steel melting atomic breath to that and what Godzilla lacks in dextrous aptitude is more than made up for with complete indiscriminate ruthlessness.
GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004)
Decades spent locked in an icy tomb would put any creatures mental state into disarray, so the decision to revive Godzilla from this exact predicament can safely be called “bat shit crazy”.
The relentlessly destructive spree that ensues shows what an atomic lizard with an unquenchable thirst for vengeance is capable of. Stomping around the world in record time Godzilla put’s his atomic breath and pro-wrestling chops into overdrive to tear through every monster willing to step into the octagon.
Godzilla’s “Marathon of Monster Mayhem” doesn’t discriminate either, Kaiju, humans, super-human mutants, alien invaders, bureaucrats – he’d kill ’em all, if it wasn’t for his pesky kid. Turns out baby Godzilla (yep, Godzilla’s tiny son) and his misguided belief in love and compassion is all it takes to stop the big guys fun-loving murder spree. Just proves that children know nothing.
GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955)
Godzilla 2.0 has a lot to live up to after the original Godzilla’s debut in Tokyo a year prior. Can he deliver?
Nah, not really. Despite possessing the same giant stompers, atomic breath, and thirst for irrational violence, this Godzilla doesn’t really get too much done in the destruction department. Sure he shows off some new hand-to-hand combat ability to take down his spikey kaiju foe (before torching its corpse for good measure), but their little tussle is the only brief incident of destruction for Osaka. Death and mayhem are scarce outside that.
The real kicker though? Apparently Godzilla doesn’t handle icy avalanches too well. If only the radical one-eyed scientist had known that before using his ultra experimental weapon of mass destruction to take down the previous one.
GODZILLA VS MEGALON (1973)
When a new wave of nuclear tests are unleashed over Godzilla’s head, you know the anger inside is going to boil back to the surface and erupt on the shores of Tokyo.
Turns out though, it sort of just mellows him out. It takes a flying robot man asking him kindly for help to draw The King of the Monsters back to Tokyo. Luckily his fearsome roar has become a dulcet instrument for vocally agreeing to this request.
After taking a leisurely swim back to land, Godzilla enters the ring (nowhere near any buildings mind) with his kaiju opponents, eventually taking them down with some pugilistic skill. Things get pretty dicey though and at one point he even tries to run away (yeah, like a coward). At least he’s all best buds with giant robot man for the next time he needs a bit of help doing his goddamn job.
Don’t hold your breathe for any big scores for the 70s friends…
KING KONG VS GODZILLA (1962)
Freed from an icy prison in the arctic, Godzilla wastes no time tearing a destructive path back to his homeland.
He’s got the atomic breath, he’s got the giant feet, he’s got the people of Tokyo in a rabid panic. Even King Kong decides on the “bow head and walk away sulking” option on his first meeting with The King.
Godzilla proves impervious to explosive pit traps and a million volts of electricity as he once again drives the pain train straight through Japan, for no real reason except the hell of it. So when Kong finally gets in his way the punishment is severe, and while his atomic breath proves useless against gorilla boy, he does demonstrate the effectiveness of a solid radioactive tail in laying down a beating.
GODZILLA VS KING GHIDORAH (1991)
If a time-travelling adventure team with their own T-800 is required to wipe a creature from history by creating a time paradox, you know that creature is the real deal. The motivation for Godzilla’s kill squad is of course that he completely wipes Japan from existence in the future, so the reputation of ‘creature of mass destruction’ is easily justified.
I for one have never witnessed a more cold-blooded killing machine. To say Godzilla has a deep-seeded hatred of humanity is an understatement, not even time travel could keep him from tearing a path of destruction through Japan.
His paradox induced growth spurt also brings with it a deeper and more terrifying roar, along with the ability to concentrate his atomic energy into an explosive burst. The icing on this kaiju cake is the heart-warming moment of recognition Godzilla shares with an old war buddy, right before giving him the atomic treatment and trampling through his life‘s work for the hell of it. Ice cold.
Free of his mountainous tomb, the government rushes to try and keep the emergence of Godzilla under wraps for fear of country-wide panic. While Japan descends into a spiral of fear and disarray, Godzilla waits in the shadows, lurking, appearing from the shadows without warning to strike. Like some sort of radioactive phantom Godzilla showers terror over Japan.
Once he actually stumbles onto land though, it turns out he just has a bout of the post-hibernation munchies, wandering around in a daze and chasing flocks of birds. In a classic case of “the only food we have is more brownies”, all those nourishing dank radioactive fumes send Godzilla’s motor functions into a further downward spiral.
Like an arts college undergrad, Godzilla sluggishly tramples through the city, until finally taking a moment to collapse into a building after mixing up a deadly cocktail of cadmium bullets on top of his radioactive vape bender. Sleep well giant lizard dude.