My Top 10 Godzilla Antagonist Monsters
Well, Godzilla (2014) has been in theaters for several weeks now and has proven to be a great success. OK, I guess some people weren’t too fond of the subtle build up of the film and seem to have preferred something more mindlessly chaotic like Pacific Rim. Not me though: this is the style of movie I prefer. So, in celebration of the Big G’s triumphant return to the big screen let me count down what in my opinion are the monsters whom are the best of Godzilla’s opponents, previous to some MUTO butt-kicking.
Godzilla Collection at Amazon
Godzilla movies Tokyo SOS and Final Wars at Amazon
In 1956, audiences were introduced to Rodan, an ancient pterodactyl kaiju in the film Rodan! The Flying Monster! Rodan would go on to become one of Toho’s most popular monsters and would frequently appear alongside Godzilla as an ally. Aside from Rodan however, there was another group of kaiju who starred in this film: Meganulon—giant prehistoric man-eating dragonfly larvae. In fact, when the film first starts it’s these Meganulon, not Rodan, whom are the big and dangerous threat to humanity. Eventually though the Meganulon pretty much just end up as fodder (literally) for Rodan and the giant dragonfly larvae are promptly forgotten for the next forty-four years. Until 2000’s Godzilla vs. Megaguirus that is. In the second of the Millennium era films, Meganulon comes back in a big way, and this time they actually get to show their adult forms, Meganula, and finally even a queen Meganula: Megaguirus. The great queen Meganula makes it onto this list because she’s a representation of how back Toho’s catalog of monsters can go and even the most obscure, oldest of the classic kaiju can suddenly just show up like that. So yeah.
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus at Amazon
The so called “Smog Monster”is number nine on the list. 1971’s Godzilla vs. Hedorah or Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster is one weird entry in the series—a very seventies film, if you will. Whether it be some teenagers’ psychedelic partying at Mt. Fuji or scenes of Godzilla propelling himself through the air with his atomic breath (that’s something you don’t see every day), Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster is just one weird, weird entry in the series. Regardless, Hedorah does a good job of being both a physical representation and a metaphor to pollution. So it might as well go without saying that Hedorah proves to be one of Godzilla’s most formidable enemies. Of course, Hedorah hasn’t really been doing much since 1971, other than being trashed in Final Wars, so he’s only number nine on the list.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah at Amazon
Picture this: it is Japan 1989 and young eight-year-old Eric is at the movie theater with his family (I could be wrong but I think the movie was Ghostbusters II). It’s been five years since 1984’s The Return of Godzilla so he’s really too young to know anything about that film: his general knowledge of Godzilla comes from the more light-hearted Showa series. Suddenly, you get this dark, dark trailer about a new film coming out later that year: Godzilla vs. Biollante. And poor young Eric is absolutely terrified by what he sees on the screen. And that is why Biollante is number eight on this list—because of the impact the trailer made on his young mind. Oh wait you guys actually want me to explain about Biollante in detail? Well, she’s a genetically created monster using the cells of a rose, Godzilla, and a scientist’s dead daughter. OK, enough of that. And now, I present you with the trailer that terrified me as a child:
1995’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah saw the Big G going into hiatus for a while. Toho basically wanted to put the series on hold and instead license the property to Hollywood for the sake of an American Godzilla film series. What we got was Godzilla (1998). Needless to say movie-goers were pissed, Godzilla fans were pissed, and Toho was pissed. Toho promptly took the license back from Tristar and promptly made 1999’s Godzilla 2000, ushering in the Millennium era. For Big G’s return his first opponent would be Orga. Let me try to explain it simply: the villains in this film are a race of ancient aliens called Millenians. In the film, a Millenian sought Godzilla’s highly regenerative abilities and sought his cells to incorporate into its body. This caused an unexpected change in its body and the Millenian mutated into Orga. Orga sought to further mutate into a genetic clone of Godzilla but attempting to absorb the King of Monsters into his own body. This ultimately leads to the most awesome way Godzilla to take out an antagonist which is the reason why he’s own this list.
Godzilla vs. Biollante at Amazon
Godzilla 2000 at Amazon
1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan may not necessarily be anybody’s favorite Godzilla film, but there’s no denying that the main antagonist introduced in this film has proven to be very versatile. Gigan is an alien cyborg monster, his signature weapons being his hook hands, his laser-shooting mono eye, and the circular buzz saw in his abdomen. Gigan has proven to be one Godzilla’s most brutal and violent adversaries and has been a major fan favorite, despite how much his two Showa era films suck. One interesting fact about Gigan is that he never fights solo. Rather, he is always teamed up with someone else: with King Ghidorah in Godzilla vs. Gigan, with Megalon in Godzilla vs. Megalon, and with Monster X (who turns out to be another version of Ghidorah) in Final Wars. Likewise, Godzilla is also teamed up with someone as well in each of these fights: with Anguirus in Godzilla vs. Gigan, with Jet Jaguar in Godzilla vs. Megalon, and with Mothra in Final Wars. Hmm, is there anything else to say about him? Oh yeah, he later gets his hook hands replaced with chainsaws. Groovy!
Godzilla vs. Gigan at Amazon
5. Space Godzilla
Heisei era Godzilla was essentially a form of chaotic neutral rather than a heroic creature, a true force of nature. Nonetheless, he still received an evil twin in the form of Space Godzilla in the 1994 film Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla. Space Godzilla is a clone of Godzilla borne within space. It is never revealed how exactly Godzilla’s cells got into space but it is speculated within the film that it was either from Biollante, Godzilla’s previous clone, when she rose into space after her battle with Godzilla, or that Mothra had unknowingly carried them into space when she had left to deflect the meteor heading toward the earth. Whichever way, Space Godzilla is highly intelligent and truly malevolent, actively seeking to dominate the Earth. Where most of the evil kaiju in the series were being controlled by evil aliens or something of the sort, Space Godzilla sought conquest independently. For this reason, Space Godzilla tends to be the main antagonist in the Godzilla video games. Not bad for an evil clone of the Big G.
Vs. Space Godzilla/Destoroyah two-pack on Amazon
The King of the Monsters is virtually indestructible and almost invincible. Many, many have gone up against him and just about all of them have been defeated. So you might ask, how do we defeat him? Why, by recreating him of course. Apparently, the best way to defeat Godzilla is to build your own Godzilla. During the Showa era alien invaders from the Black Hole Planet 3 did it in 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and again in 1975’s Terror of Mechagodzilla. In the Heisei and the Millennium eras on the other hand, it was humanity who constructed Mechagodzilla. First in the Heisei era, 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, humanity utilized the Futurian technology that had been used to create Mecha-King Ghidorah. And this version of Mechagodzilla came so incredibly close to killing Godzilla and would’ve done so had Rodan not intervened.
In the original 1954 Godzilla film, the titular monster was destroyed by a weapon of mass destruction called the Oxygen Destroyer which could dissolve any marine life to bones in an instant. Its inventor, Dr. Daisuke Serizawa committed suicide in the process of detonating it to destroy the original Godzilla so as to prevent knowledge of the weapon from causing an arms race and placing the world in grave danger. Forty years later in the 1995 film Godzilla vs. Detoroyah, Dr. Serizawa’s fears about the dangers of the Oxygen Destroyer would prove to be prophetic, though not necessarily in the way he imagined it to be. Rather, the Oxygen Destroyer instead awoke a race of ancient crustaceans which mutated into the monster known as Destoroyah. He is quite similar to Hedorah (who might’ve been an inspiration), being a composite creature with four forms. Furthermore, the ray he fires from his mouth is essentially, the Oxygen Destroyer. All of this proved to make Destoroyah one of Godzilla’s most deadliest enemies ever, further enhanced by the fact that at the time Godzilla was already dying as a result of an internal nuclear meltdown. That and the fact that he traumatized Godzilla by (temporarily) killing Godzilla Jr. really makes him stand out.
For the Millennium era, 2002’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and its sequel 2003’s Godzilla: Tokyo SOS had humanity going for an even more radical approach of dredging up the skeleton of the original 1954 Godzilla that was destroyed by the Oxygen Destroyer and building an entire mecha called “Kiryu” around it to fight the Millennium Godzilla. Kiryu has the soul of the original Godzilla causing various problems down the line. Whichever way, the Godzilla vs. Kiryu is essentially the most extreme form of Godzilla vs. Godzilla that Mechagodzilla was initially invoking in the first place.
Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (Millennium) at Amazon
Being a moth, Mothra regularly goes through several life stages. In many movies beginning with the original 1961 Mothra, we start out with a giant egg. From that egg, Mothra’s larval form will hatch, usually in response to a feeling that her fairy priestesses are in danger. Eventually she will use her threads to spin a giant cocoon, entering a pupa before finally emerging as her full-grown imago form. Eventually her imago form will reach the end of her lifespan whereupon she will lay another egg before dying, beginning the cycle anew. In this way, Mothra repeats an immortal cycle of rebirth, much like the phoenix. On rare occasions, twin larvae might hatch from the egg but generally, only one of them lives to achieve imago form and continue the cycle.
Starting with her own film Mothra in 1961 and then crossing over into Godzilla’s film series 1964’s Mothra vs. Godzilla, Mothra has been a consistent throughout the Showa, Heisei, and Millennium series both as frequent ally and enemy of Godzilla. In fact, she even got her own solo movies from 1996 to 1998 called the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy, although those films actually starred her son Mothra Leo, rather than Mothra herself.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (Heisei) at Amazon
Mothra is both a frequent ally and frequent antagonist of Godzilla. In a lot of ways she is a foil to him in the fact that both of them are personifications of nature, yet personify different aspects of nature. Godzilla personifies the dangerous, wild, uncontrollable side of nature whereas Mothra personifies the more benevolent, nurturing, gentle side of nature which can still be dangerous if crossed in the wrong way. It is for this reason that they can just as easily be allies as they can be enemies. Mothra is a giant moth and is essentially a quasi-mystic demigod of sorts. She is always accompanied by two twin fairies who act as her priestesses and can summon her with her signature Song of Mothra.
In the Heisei era, 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah features a King Ghidorah mutated from three creatures from the future called Dorats in a plot carried out by Futurians to prevent Japan from becoming a future Superpower. King Ghidorah ends up being defeated by Godzilla, however he is then rebuilt as Mecha-King Ghidorah for a final showdown against Godzilla. The technology used to rebuild him as Mecha-King Ghidorah is later used to create Mechagodzilla in 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. Finally, during the Millennium era, 2001’s Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack completely changes the formula by featuring a heroic King Ghidorah as an immature Yamata-no-orochi teaming up with Mothra to protect Japan from a malevolent Godzilla whom in this film is a personification of the vengeance fueled souls of Japanese World War II soldiers who died in battle. Do you know how surreal it is to see King Ghidorah being a hero and teaming up with Mothra to fight Godzilla?
Mothra vs. Godzilla (Showa) at Amazon
Vs. King Ghidorah/Mothra (Heisei) two-pack at Amazon
Other forms of Ghidorah have served as the antagonist of the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy. The first Rebirth of Mothra film from 1996 featured a villainous three-headed dragon called Desghidorah who fought both Mothra and Mothra Leo. Later, the 1998 film Rebirth of Mothra III features a more traditional form of King Ghidorah called Grand King Ghidorah, as well as a younger form of him called Cretaceous King Ghidorah.
Going back to Godzilla and the Millennium series, Toho’s final movie so far, 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars features the King of Monsters fighting through a multitude of kaiju the invading Xilians throw at him. Finally, the final kaiju the Xilians send against the Big G is Monster X who teams up with Gigan to take on the King of Monsters. Eventually, Mothra rushes to Godzilla’s side and the fight becomes two-against-two until Mothra’s desperation attack takes out both her and Gigan. With Mothra and Gigan out of the fight, Monster X finally reveals his true form: Keizer Ghidorah! It is perhaps appropriate that in Toho’s final Godzilla movie (for now) that Godzilla’s final and ultimate enemy would be a more powerful version of his archenemy King Ghidorah. All of this is the reason why he is number one!
1. King Ghidorah
Though King Ghidorah’s name is on this entry, a more accurate description for this entry would be Ghidorah in any of his forms. Ask any random person on the street who they think Godzilla’s archenemy is and I can guarantee that the vast majority of them will say Ghidorah. I can further guarantee that about 9 out of 10 of those people are thinking specifically about King Ghidorah. In his debut in 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, King Ghidorah was a malevolent, giant, golden colored three-headed space dragon with giant wings and two tails who could fire gravity beams from his mouth. The “three-headed dragon with giant wings and two tails who could fire gravity beams from his mouth” description tends to be consistent amongst the various versions of Ghidorah. Either way, so ferocious and dangerous was King Ghidorah that Mothra had to go out of her way to convince Godzilla and Rodan to team up with her to defend the Earth from him, which they were initially reluctant to do so. After this first fight, King Ghidorah consistently continued to mess with the various kaiju of Earth until 1968’s Destroy All Monsters, chronologically the final the movie in the Showa era, where King Ghidorah is defeated once and for all by the combined efforts of the kaiju of Earth.
GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack at Amazon
Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster (Showa) at Amazon
So what do you all think? What are your favorite Godzilla monster antagonists? Who do you want the Big G fight against in the inevitable sequel to Godzilla (2014)? My personal dream is to see Godzilla, Mothra, and Kiryu, vs. King Ghidorah and Gigan. Man, what I would give to see a fight like that.