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Everything You Need to Know About Rodan

Everything You Need to Know About Rodan

One of the amazing and exciting things about the Godzilla: King of the Monsters teaser released at Comic-Con over the weekend was that it didn’t hide any of the movie’s new takes on beloved Toho Studios kaiju. Of course, Godzilla can’t be the king of the monsters if there aren’t any other monsters. And it looks as though the big three of Godzilla’s frenemies are making their first appearances in an American movie. Let’s take a look at one of them now!

Hot on the heels of 1954’s Godzilla, Toho made a sequel (Godzilla Raids Again), but gave the original’s director Ishiro Honda a chance to make another new kaiju to capitalize on his earlier success. The result was a full-color monster movie, Rodan, about a giant Pteranodon that hatches from an egg in a volcano and terrorizes a mining/coastal town. As ya do.

Like Godzilla, Rodan explored the possibility of behemoth beasts from deep within the earth awakening/mutating because of atomic weaponry. However, despite the destruction, those scenes never feel quite as apocalyptic as their Godzilla counterparts do, likely due to the movies thereafter being fun spectacle more than WWII allegory.

Rodan is a short movie—only 82 minutes—and is a very slow build, first forcing audiences to be content with giant insects and larvae before Rodan finally attacks in the movie’s third act. It’s nevertheless very exciting and the model effects by the legendary Eiji Tsuburaya make it a fun time, even if the guy-in-a-suit process doesn’t quite work with the flying monster.

Rodan, while given status due to being featured so early on in Toho’s run of kaiju movies, never really got another outing of his own. His second film was 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster in which Rodan and Godzilla both awaken and fight each other incessantly, only to be persuaded by Mothra to team-up and take on the space monstrosity of the title. Rodan stuck around as Godzilla’s reluctant ally for the follow-ups Invasion of Astro Monster in 1965 and Destroy All Monsters in 1968.

After only brief stock footage cameos in three ’70s Godzilla movies, Rodan returned to the fray in the 1993 movie Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, where he fights Godzilla and then later teams up with him, only to be killed unceremoniously by Mechagodzilla. Rodan’s final appearance to date was in 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars which was meant to be the last Godzilla movie ever (ha ha ha) and where pretty much every single kaiju shows up for a second to fight and get killed.

It’ll be nice to see Rodan again in such a big production as Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Rodan gets featured the most in the teaser trailer, bursting from a volcano and his shadow hovering ominously over the Earth. If Rodan ends up playing a similar role as he has since Ghidorah, he’ll be one the movie’s standouts for sure.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters will crush theaters May 31, 2019.

Editor’s note: Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks

Images: Toho

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. He is the writer of 200 reviews of weird or obscure films in Schlock & Awe. Follow him on Twitter!

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