In Gareth Edwards’ new Godzilla movie, the titular god of monsters squares off against insect-like nuclear-sucking beasts code named “M.U.T.O.” Will they return for the sequel? It seems unlikely, and if they don’t, they’ll be joining the relatively small pantheon of monsters Godzilla has only fought (or been around) once. We’ve gathered a list of ten for you.
NOTE: This will not include any time the monsters appeared in cameos. In 2004, Godzilla: Final Wars brought back several of these monsters for the film that is essentially a huge, unending stream of Godzilla fighting other kaiju. Since this was basically an anniversary special, I’m going to disregard it and its repetition of monsters. In fact, I’m just going to ignore all the movies made after 1995, because they’re pretty dumb. That cool with everyone?
Though these giant praying mantises (Manti? No.) appeared in dream sequences (All Monsters Attack) and living in peace with other monsters (Godzilla vs. Gigan), their one true appearance was as the main antagonist in 1967’s Son of Godzilla, which also introduced Godzilla’s tiny offspring, Minilla. While a lot of Godzilla’s foes are insectoid in nature, Kamacuras has to be one of the most fearsome-looking. Also, they’re one of the only monsters on this list made as a puppet and not a guy in a suit. Also known as “Gimantis” which sounds vaguely dirty.
Battra is Mothra’s evil twin who was initially created to help the Earth but eventually started killing stuff, forcing Mothra to intervene and defeat him. Twelve thousand years later, Battra reappears to seek revenge. Unfortunately, Mothra’s busy fighting Godzilla (who is evil in this one again). Battra and Mothra eventually have to team up to save Tokyo and defeat Godzilla, but Battra is killed in the process. Godzilla spoils all good feuds.
After awhile, it wasn’t enough just to have Godzilla and Mothra and a villain kaiju in a movie; there had to be HEAPS AND GOBS OF KAIJU! This is where the Giant Condor comes in. It’s in the movie for no other reason than to irritate Godzilla for a minute or two and then get killed. Why is there a condor that big that nobody seems to care about? It’s a big damn bird, surely someone would have noticed. Technically, the Giant Condor returned (as a giant eagle) in the following film, All Monsters Attack, but seeing as that appearance was made up entirely of footage from this movie, I’d say it doesn’t count.
Being a Godzilla foe in the 1970s meant you got the movie more or less named after you. That didn’t necessarily mean it was going to translate to huge popularity, of course, but hey, name in the title. It doesn’t bode well for you, though, if you get upstaged by the villain from the last movie. That’s right, evidently Megalon wasn’t much of a threat because his alien overlords saw fit to send Gigan (a character who’s appeared in several films) down to assist him. Come on, Megalon; you’re a massive spear-armed, mace-headed god. Show a little self-respect.
And speaking of titular monsters, this baddie has the distinction of not even being a Godzilla vs monster; he gets the whole title to himself. He’s the horror of the deep! Like the Giant Condor, Ebirah was a mutated animal on an island owned by the terrorist organization Red Bamboo, which used those creatures to patrol the air and seas, respectively. While the Giant Condor, having no name, was clearly no match for Godzilla, the massive irradiated lobster made things a little more interesting. Humans actually woke Godzilla up to fight Ebirah, meaning he was bad enough to warrant summoning a massive city-crushing behemoth. That’s how you know you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Even though in the English version, his name literally means “King King,” in Japanese it’s “King Shisa,” meaning the ruler of the Shisa which is an Okinawan mythical creature. So there. King Caesar is one of the few on this list who is an ally, even if tentatively, of Godzilla. With the robotic MechaGodzilla wreaking havoc on Japan, and specifically on the Azumi family, that family’s ancient guardian awakens with a song. Though it makes a good show of it, MechaGodzilla proves too powerful and nearly kills King Caesar before the real Godzilla arrives and a team-up commences. Gods teaming up to fight alien robots. That’s the Toho way!
I like this one because he sounds like he could be in the Wu Tang Clan. The very final villain in the Hensei (middle period) series of Godzilla movies, Destoroyah was once a colony of prehistoric crustaceans who were awakened and irradiated due to the use of the Oxygen Destroyer bomb in the very first film in 1954. Whatever the reason for their/its inception, Destoroyah is just a badass-looking monster that appears far more dragon-like than crab or lobster-like, but I don’t think that matters too much. He’s got five distinct forms of life, and fights with Godzilla Junior at one point before reaching full height. Fighting him is a family affair.
(Pictured at the top as well) Also known as “The Smog Monster,” Hedorah is a kaiju that just can’t make up its mind what the hell kind of thing it is. Being an amalgam of alien pollution, it begins life as a tadpole, then becomes a reptile on four legs, then it becomes a FLYING SAUCER MONSTER(!!!), then it becomes a bipedal sludge creature. What in the name of identity crises is going on with him? Designed to be the series’ discussion of properly handling waste and pollution, the resultant monster is just bizarre and confusing. Still, for a monster to essentially be anything the designers decided he should be is one of the more brilliant things the Godzilla films can do.
I admit, this one’s a bit of a cheat because he’s a mecha and not a kaiju, but it’s my list and I don’t care. Jet Jaguar is just the funniest and weirdest part of an already strange movie. Jet Jaguar was the result of a contest Toho held in which children (CHILDREN) were encouraged to create a hero for a series of films. The winner was called Red Alone but name changed to Jet Jaguar. He was supposed to be the sole star of the movie, which would have been called Jet Jaguar vs. Megalon, but the Toho people thought he couldn’t carry a whole movie by himself. What happened is that nobody cared about Jet Jaguar and he never appeared in any of the movies again, though he was featured heavily on the Godzilla Island TV series from the 1990s. The movie finished with him getting his own theme song, too. So funny.
Yes, the fuzzy beast t’were killed by beauty got to grow to unbelievably huge size and fight Godzilla in the third film in the giant lizard series. Kong was more or less the hero of this film, although he did throw a tantrum and destroy Tokyo for seemingly no reason. This certainly seemed like a great melding of the two most popular giant monsters, and Kong was even given his own solo Toho film in 1967 (King Kong Escapes) but the tie to Universal’s classic film was in name only and this giant ape didn’t bear any of the trademark sensitivity of the earlier or even later films. However, he could harness and shoot electricity out of his hands, so that’s actually way better than being sensitive.
I hope you enjoyed this list and if you think I’ve been a durn fool for forgetting your favorite, let me know in the comments below!