A Brief History of Godzilla’s Rise

On the last day of July, we shared these new images from Godzilla: The King of the Monsters that included the featured image of Godzilla in all his nuclear glory.

In Warner Bros.’ third Godzilla entry, the studio is pitting the iconic monster against some of his greatest foes; Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. The first trailer gave us a few brief snippets of the monsters in action but left their brawling for a later glimpse (or for the film’s release itself). When we finally do see them clash, Godzilla will have his size and strength, but possibly most important, his atomic powered breath. In a new video from CineFix, you’ll learn the origins of Godzilla’s nuclear power.

For those of you who aren’t Kaiju scholars (which means you likely don’t know what a Kaiju is), the video will get you up to speed. Godzilla’s first appearance on the big screen came in 1954, rising from the depths of the ocean in Ishirô Honda’s Gojira (Godzilla). The monster was inspired by 1953’s The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, which also featured a dinosaur-like gargantuan rising from the ocean and destroying a city. The one difference? Nuclear power. When Honda’s Godzilla came out, it was widely understood to be a metaphor for the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, obliterating both cities. Honda’s Godzilla was created, in part, by humanity’s messing around with atomic weapons.

Godzilla’s success prodded production studio Toho to rush production on a sequel, Godzilla Raids Again, which gave the king of monsters a foe roughly his size—the irradiated beast Ankylosaur. This monster-v-monster mash set into motion Godzilla’s many battles with other beasts, including King Kong, Ghidorah, Megalon, Astro-Monster, Mothra, Mechagodzilla, and Gigan. As you’ll see in the video, things got out of control—gone was Godzilla as a metaphor for nuclear power and the destruction it wields—in Son of Godzilla, an adorable baby monster who’s about as scary as a Porg.

Toho brought things back to the original, darker roots with The Return of Godzilla in 1984, which wisely ignored everything that came after the original film. A new era of Godzilla films was upon us, which benefited from a focus on deeper meanings and increasingly sophisticated special and visual effects.

This period led to Hollywood’s first crack at Godzilla, in Rolland Emmerich’s 1998 titular film. Godzilla starred Matthew Broderick as an earthworm scientist (for real) and his assorted friends and associates trying to stop the giant reptilian monster (and its babies!) from destroying New York. The film was a critical flop.

It would be another 16-years before Hollywood took another, much more successful crack with Rogue One director Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla for Warner Bros. Pictures in 2014. Edwards’ Godzilla was the most technically accomplished film in the atomic mutant monster’s history, and also introduced us to Warner Bros. new monster-verse. Also introduced in Edwards’ Godzilla was the shadowy organization Monarch. Monarch is a team of scientists and researchers who study and hunt “MUTOs”—massive unidentified terrestrial organisms. Here Godzilla is once again a defender of humankind, saving San Francisco by defeating two grotesque monster mutants who were hellbent on eating nuclear weapons and having babies (in that order).

Warner Bros.’ second addition to their monster-verse was Kong: Skull Island, which introduced us to the biggest, baddest (and inarguably heroic) Kong, who fought off an island’s worth of monsters. This film’s post-credits sequence hinted at the upcoming King of the Monsters with Monarch identifying the three beasts Godzilla will be fighting in the film.

Eventually, Godzilla will be facing off against Kong, two villains-turned-heroes who will likely divide audiences on who they want to win. Our money would be on the one with atomic power.

Featured image: Caption: Godzilla rises from the depths and unleashes his atomic breath to claim his crown as King of the Monsters in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures


Bryan Abrams

Bryan Abrams is the Editor-in-chief of The Credits. He's run the site since its launch in 2012. He lives in New York.