When Godzilla first lumbered onto cinema screens in 1954, the giant monster genre was still in infancy, soon to grow to international success and inspire a whole host of fantastic monsters to spawn in their own movies from every corner of the globe.
The kaiju (giant monster) that populated the “Godzilla” film series remain among the most memorable and popular worldwide. Here we present five of the biggest, best and most unique monsters to ever face Godzilla.
A list of the greatest Kaiju cannot be complete without the golden three headed monstrosity, King Ghidorah. First appearing in Ishirò Honda‘s 1964 smash “Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster,” with wildly writhing heads and a trademark high pitched ululating call, King Ghidorah would became among the most recognizable and popular kaiju to ever appear in the genre. Returning to menace Earth in more Godzilla films than any other single opponent, King Ghidorah is often considered the true nemesis of Godzilla himself.
Bearing a history as varied as his long standing enemy, King Ghidorah has been depicted with many origins, from an Alien Invaders living tool of destruction or a genetically designed adorable pet gone horribly wrong, to an all powerful planet devouring entity worshipped as a God.
Among the most nefarious of all Godzilla’s opponents is the demonic Destoroyah, making his debut in the 1995 grand finale of the Heisei period, Takao Okawara‘s “Godzilla vs Destoroyah.”
More visibly cruel and wicked in personality than most more animalistic kaiju, Destoroyah evolved as a by-product of the weapon designed to stop the original Godzilla in his very first appearance back in 1954.
Destoroyah holds rank as one of the most powerful kaiju ever seen on screen, brutally beating Godzilla jr. and going toe to toe with both Godzilla and Earth’s armed forces with ease.
Audiences of the day were shocked with the films final confrontation between these two Kaiju heavyweights, culminating with the fiery and dramatic on-screen death of Godzilla.
Among the lesser known ranks of Godzilla’s many opponents lurks the plant-like Biollante, introduced in Kazuki Omori‘s 1989 “Godzilla vs Biollante.” A vast biological horror, Biollante was born from experimentation on a rose infused with Godzilla’s cells, and seemingly powered by the angry spirit of a scientist’s daughter tragically killed in a terrorist attack.
Towering over any other Kaiju to date, the skyscraping Biollante and her many tendrills famously required over 20 puppeteers to maneuver on set. While she only featured in one film, Biollante was the first new kaiju introduced in the Heisei era of Godzilla films, and remains a stand-out monster, from both her wildly distinctive appearance and her uniquely tragic origins.
Pollution and filth given life and terrible purpose, Hedorah rose from the waters of Tokyo bay to bring death and sickness to all in its path in the controversial entry, Yoshimitsu Banno‘s 1971 “Godzilla vs Hedorah.”
A giant shuffling refuse heap bearing glowing red eyes and leaving nothing but the melted flesh and skeletons of human inhabitants in its wake, Hedorahs battles with Godzilla produced some of the series’ most memorable moments, for better (such as the unforgettably malevolent sight of Hedorah greedily sucking in billowing black filth from the chimney stack of a power plant) or indeed for worse (the equally unforgettable ridiculousness of Godzilla grabbing his own tail and blasting off like a backwards Godzilla rocket).
Released as “Godzilla vs The Smog Monster” in the US, the film is considered by some to be a seminal entry in the showa era, while others disagree. Bearing a uniquely weird blend of childish humor, truly grim violence, ham fisted environmental messages and even a groovy 60’s style theme song about the terrors of pollution, the film’s merits are hotly debated.
Director Banno considered the whole thing a runaway success, while Tomoyuki Tanada, the films producer, hated it so much he accused Banno of destroying the franchise. You can’t please everyone!
Everyone’s favorite glow up Kaiju, Gigan went from goofy early appearances resembling a robotic battle chicken to one of Godzilla’s most popular and stylishly designed enemies.
First appearing in 1972’s “Godzilla vs Gigan,” the outrageous cyborg chicken monster is wielded as a tool by nefarious space cockroaches in their plan to eliminate the human race. Gigan proved so popular he’d return immediately in the series’ next installment, blasting onto the scene with his Superman-esque flying pose, glowing robotic eyes and metal claws designed to sell toys to eager kids, and quickly became a favorite of Japanese viewers.
By the time 2004’s action spectacular “Godzilla: Final Wars” came around, Gigan returned to menace the world as a sleek and menacing kaiju with metallic flesh and arms retrofitted with giant double bladed chainsaw hands.
With a wealth of memorabilia and appearances large enough to rival even stars like Ghidorah, the monster some refer to as the Neville Longbottom of Kaiju’ remains a firm fan favorite.
Needless to say, we’re REALLY looking forward to seeing “Godzilla vs. Kong” whenever it hits theaters.