- History shows, again and again,
- how nature points out the folly of men.
- —Blue Oyster Cult, "Godzilla"
Along with the Western-made King Kong, Godzilla is one of the classic giant monsters of modern fiction. As a kaiju (Japanese for "strange creature"), time after time the mutated prehistoric reptile has risen from the deep, sometimes to destroy Tokyo, sometimes to save it.
The original Gojira film, released in 1954, was the first of many kaiju films released in Japan, paving the way and setting the standard for future kaiju films, many of which feature Godzilla. The film received universal critical acclaim and was a large box office success in Japan, paving the way for what may be the most successful tokusatsu franchise of all time.
The Original Film Edit
Gojira, localized in America as Godzilla: King of the Monsters, begins with a series of mysterious shipwrecks. A reporter named Hagiwara is sent to investigate a remote island, whose natives blame the wrecks on a monster from their myths. He goes back a second time with some scientists, and the paleontologist Dr. Yamane finds gigantic radioactive footprints.
Yamane soon realises that the legendary monster is real. Godzilla is a gigantic prehistoric sea monster which somehow survived to the present, and has been released by the recent atomic blasts. Naturally, he is heading straight for Tokyo.
The military attempt to stop Godzilla, using tanks and a thirty-meter-high electric fence, but they fail. Because Godzilla was created by radiation he cannot be killed by anything less deadly. Godzilla sets the city on fire with his atomic breath, killing millions and reducing Tokyo to smouldering rubble.
Fortunately, Yamane's daughter's fiance, Dr. Serizawa, has invented an "oxygen destroyer," capable of killing Godzilla, but he has moral qualms about using it, since the military would use it as a weapon of mass destruction.
After seeing how much damage Godzilla has done, Serizawa does eventually decide to use his oxygen destroyer, but first he burns all his research notes. The navy take Serizawa to the middle of Tokyo Bay, where he successfully uses his invention to kill both Godzilla and himself, a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the oxygen destroyer being misused.
At the end of the film, Yamane says he doesn't believe Godzilla was unique. Another will inevitably appear.
If only he knew how right he was...
Franchise and Adaptations Edit
The original Gojira turned out to be the advent of a successful franchise, with several alternate continuities, in which Godzilla has veered from villain to anti-hero to hero. The King of the Monsters has starred in two animated series: The Godzilla Power Hour and Godzilla: The Series. Godzilla, along with King Ghidorah and Gigan, were even special guests in the TV show Zone Fighter. He also starred in a show called Godzilla Island.
Toho's Godzilla films are traditionally categorized into three eras, according to when they were made: Showa (1954-1975), Heisei (1984-1995), and Millennium (1999-2004). Each era has its own look and feel, particularly in its special effects but also in its plotlines. Legendary Pictures (The Dark Knight Saga, 300) has also completed a new reboot of the series, which was promised to be closer to the original material than that one 1998 "remake" that most fans don't talk about.
The general interpretation of Godzilla in the original film was of more of a natural disaster, something powerful that can not be reasoned with, but ultimately a sympathetic character who was as much a victim of the atomic age as the Japanese he terrorized. Subsequent films set Godzilla as a heroic ally to the humans or as an evil creature that has to be killed. The 1998 American film portrayed Godzilla (later retconned by Toho into a separate creature called "Zilla") as a mostly innocent creature that just wanted to be left alone. The 2014 version of the character encompasses all of these things, but mostly the traits exhibited in the 1954 movie.
In Fandom, Badfic, and the PPC Edit
Despite the massive influence of Godzilla in popular culture, including numerous cameos, rip-offs, and parodies in a wide variety of entertainment media, the Godzilla fandom itself is surprisingly small and tight-knit. This may or may not be due to the lack of interest in the Godzilla films themselves, as opposed to the King himself (there's a reason the trope is known as "Just Here for Godzilla"). Those who love the movies and their monstrous characters band together to discuss any and all things Godzilla-related, and specific forums such as Toho Kingdom have been established specifically for this purpose.
Even after the minor fanfic explosion that the 2014 movie created, it is often more common to see fanart of Godzilla and friends than fanfic (let alone badfic, though it still does exist albeit in nominal amounts), and the rubber-suit special effects of the movies means that redesigns attempting to make the monsters more "realistic" or otherwise updated to modern creature design standards have become extremely common, courtesy of professional illustrator Matt Frank and his Godzilla Neo art series. Unfortunately, a lot of less scrupulous fanartists have made a habit of sticking spikes and fire breath (Godzilla actually breathes radiation) on a regular dinosaur and calling it Godzilla, which turns out to be a Bad Idea every single time. Thankfully, this practice seems to have become less frequent due to the kaiju fandom maturing and getting to know the franchise better, especially after the release of the 2014 movie.
Minis from the Godzilla continuum, of course, are mini-kaiju. These minis usually take on the form of the kaiju whose name was misspelled, but those derived from characters or locations that aren't kaiju tend to take on the form of Godzilla himself.
Missions in this Continuum Edit
- "Giant Sonic All-Out Attack" (crossover with Sonic Universe and a couple other things), Agents Sarah Katherine Squall, Cupid Carmine, and Lapis Lazuli (DIC)
- "Kelly The Roman Warrior" (crossover with Dracula and Twilight), Agents Selene Windflower and Kaitlyn Jackson (DF)
- "Of Monsters and Machines" (crossover with Five Nights at Freddy's), Agents Valon Vance and Kala Jeng (DF) with Agents Falchion, Rashida Mafdetiti, and Velociripper (DF)