Godzilla

Godzilla (Japanese: ゴジラ Hepburn: Gojira) (/ɡɒdˈzɪlə/; [ɡoꜜdʑiɾa] (listen)) is a monster originating from a series of Japanese films of the same name. The character first appeared in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film Godzilla and became a worldwide pop culture icon, appearing in various media, including 32 films produced by Toho, three Hollywood films and numerous video games, novels, comic books and television shows. It is dubbed the King of the Monsters, a phrase first used in Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, the Americanized version of the original film.

Godzilla is depicted as an enormous, destructive, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation. With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons.[22] As the film series expanded, some stories took on less serious undertones, portraying Godzilla as an antihero, or a lesser threat who defends humanity. With the end of the Cold War, several post-1984 Godzilla films shifted the character's portrayal to themes including Japan's forgetfulness over its imperial past,[23] natural disasters and the human condition.[24]

Godzilla has been featured alongside many supporting characters. It has faced human opponents such as the JSDF, or other monsters, including King Ghidorah, Gigan and Mechagodzilla. Godzilla sometimes has allies, such as Rodan, Mothra and Anguirus, and offspring, such as Minilla and Godzilla Junior. Godzilla has also fought characters from other franchises in crossover media, such as the RKO Pictures/Universal Studios movie monster King Kong and the Marvel Comics characters S.H.I.E.L.D.,[25] the Fantastic Four[26] and the Avengers.[27]

Godzilla
Godzilla film series character
Godzilla '54 design
Godzilla as featured in the original 1954 film
First appearanceGodzilla (1954)
Created by
Portrayed by
Designed by
  • Akira Watanabe
  • Teizô Toshimitsu[16]
Information
Alias
SpeciesPrehistoric amphibious reptile
FamilyMinilla and Godzilla Junior (adopted sons)

Overview

Name

Gojira (ゴジラ) is a portmanteau of the Japanese words: gorira (ゴリラ, "gorilla") and kujira ( (クジラ), "whale"), which is fitting because in one planning stage, Godzilla was described as "a cross between a gorilla and a whale",[28] alluding to its size, power and aquatic origin. One popular story is that "Gojira" was actually the nickname of a corpulent stagehand at Toho Studio.[29] Kimi Honda, the widow of the director, dismissed this in a 1998 BBC documentary devoted to Godzilla, "The backstage boys at Toho loved to joke around with tall stories".[30]

Godzilla's name was written in ateji as Gojira (呉爾羅), where the kanji are used for phonetic value and not for meaning. The Japanese pronunciation of the name is [ɡoꜜdʑiɾa] (listen); the Anglicized form is /ɡɒdˈzɪlə/, with the first syllable pronounced like the word "god" and the rest rhyming with "gorilla". In the Hepburn romanization system, Godzilla's name is rendered as "Gojira", whereas in the Kunrei romanization system it is rendered as "Gozira".

During the development of the American version of Godzilla Raids Again (1955), Godzilla's name was changed to "Gigantis", a move initiated by producer Paul Schreibman, who wanted to create a character distinct from Godzilla.[31]

Characteristics

Godzilla 1954-2014 incarnations
Every film incarnation of Godzilla between 1954 and 2017

Within the context of the Japanese films, Godzilla's exact origins vary, but it is generally depicted as an enormous, violent, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation.[32] Although the specific details of Godzilla's appearance have varied slightly over the years, the overall impression has remained consistent.[33] Inspired by the fictional Rhedosaurus created by animator Ray Harryhausen for the film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms,[34] Godzilla's iconic character design was conceived as that of an amphibious reptilian monster based around the loose concept of a dinosaur[35] with an erect standing posture, scaly skin, an anthropomorphic torso with muscular arms, lobed bony plates along its back and tail, and a furrowed brow.[36] Art director Akira Watanabe combined attributes of a Tyrannosaurus, an Iguanodon, a Stegosaurus and an alligator[37] to form a sort of blended chimera, inspired by illustrations from an issue of Life magazine.[38] To emphasise the monster's relationship with the atomic bomb, its skin texture was inspired by the keloid scars seen on survivors in Hiroshima.[39] The basic design has a reptilian visage, a robust build, an upright posture, a long tail and three rows of serrated plates along the back. In the original film, the plates were added for purely aesthetic purposes, in order to further differentiate Godzilla from any other living or extinct creature. Godzilla is sometimes depicted as green in comics, cartoons and movie posters, but the costumes used in the movies were usually painted charcoal grey with bone-white dorsal plates up until the film Godzilla 2000.[40]

Godzilla King of the Monsters (1956) Atomic ray
Godzilla's atomic heat beam, as shown in Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla's signature weapon is its "atomic heat beam", nuclear energy that it generates inside of its body and unleashes from its jaws in the form of a blue or red radioactive beam.[41] Toho's special effects department has used various techniques to render the beam, from physical gas-powered flames[42] to hand-drawn or computer-generated fire. Godzilla is shown to possess immense physical strength and muscularity. Haruo Nakajima, the actor who played Godzilla in the original films, was a black belt in judo and used his expertise to choreograph the battle sequences.[43] Godzilla can breathe underwater[41] and is described in the original film by the character Dr. Yamane as a transitional form between a marine and a terrestrial reptile. Godzilla is shown to have great vitality: it is immune to conventional weaponry thanks to its rugged hide and ability to regenerate[44] and as a result of surviving a nuclear explosion, it cannot be destroyed by anything less powerful. Various films, television shows, comics and games have depicted Godzilla with additional powers, such as an atomic pulse,[45] magnetism,[46] precognition,[47] fireballs,[48] an electric bite,[49] superhuman speed,[50] eye beams[51] and even flight.[52]

Godzilla's allegiance and motivations have changed from film to film to suit the needs of the story. Although Godzilla does not like humans,[53] it will fight alongside humanity against common threats. However, it makes no special effort to protect human life or property[54] and will turn against its human allies on a whim. It is not motivated to attack by predatory instinct: it does not eat people[55] and instead sustains itself on nuclear radiation[56] and an omnivorous diet.[57] When inquired if Godzilla was "good or bad", producer Shogo Tomiyama likened it to a Shinto "God of Destruction" which lacks moral agency and cannot be held to human standards of good and evil. "He totally destroys everything and then there is a rebirth. Something new and fresh can begin."[55]

KK v G trailer (1962)
Godzilla battles King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). This film has the highest Japanese box office attendance figures in the entire Godzilla series to date.[58]

In the original Japanese films, Godzilla and all the other monsters are referred to with gender-neutral pronouns equivalent to "it",[59] while in the English dubbed versions, Godzilla is explicitly described as a male, such as in the title of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. The creature in the 1998 Godzilla film was depicted laying eggs through parthenogenesis.[60][61][62]

Roar

Godzilla has a distinctive disyllabic roar (transcribed in several comics as Skreeeonk!),[63][64] which was created by composer Akira Ifukube, who produced the sound by rubbing a pine-tar-resin-coated glove along the string of a contrabass and then slowing down the playback.[65] In the American version of Godzilla Raids Again (1955) entitled Gigantis the Fire Monster, Godzilla's iconic roar was substituted with that of the monster Anguirus.[31] From The Return of Godzilla (1984) to Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Godzilla was given a deeper and more threatening-sounding roar than in previous films, though this change was reverted from Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) onwards.[66] For the 2014 American film, sound editors Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl refused to disclose the source of the sounds used for their Godzilla's roar.[65] Aadahl described the two syllables of the roar as representing two different emotional reactions, with the first expressing fury and the second conveying the character's soul.[67]

Size

Godzilla's size is inconsistent, changing from film to film, and even from scene to scene, for the sake of artistic license.[55] The miniature sets and costumes were typically built at a ​125–​150 scale[68] and filmed at 240 frames per second to create the illusion of great size.[69] In the original 1954 film, Godzilla was scaled to be 50 m (164 ft) tall.[70] This was done so Godzilla could just peer over the largest buildings in Tokyo at the time.[2] In the 1956 American version, Godzilla is estimated to be 122 m (400 ft) tall, because producer Joseph E. Levine felt that 50 m did not sound "powerful enough".[71] As the series progressed Toho would rescale the character, eventually making Godzilla as tall as 100 m (328 ft).[72] This was done so that it would not be dwarfed by the newer, bigger buildings in Tokyo's skyline, such as the 243-meter-tall (797 ft) Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building which Godzilla destroyed in the film Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). Supplementary information, such as character profiles, would also depict Godzilla as weighing between 20,000 and 60,000 metric tons (22,000 and 66,000 short tons).[70][72] In the American film Godzilla (2014) from Legendary Pictures, Godzilla was scaled to be 108.2 m (355 ft) and weighing 90,000 metric tons (99,000 short tons), making it the largest film version at that time.[73] Director Gareth Edwards wanted Godzilla "to be so big as to be seen from anywhere in the city, but not too big that he couldn't be obscured".[74] For Shin Godzilla (2016), Godzilla was made even taller than the Legendary version, at 118.5 m (389 ft).[75][76] In Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, Godzilla's height was increased further still to 300 m (984 ft).[77]

Special effects details

Godzilla Raids Again (1955) Behind the scenes
Suit fitting on the set of Godzilla Raids Again (1955), with Haruo Nakajima portraying Godzilla on the left

Godzilla's appearance has traditionally been portrayed in the films by an actor wearing a latex costume, though the character has also been rendered in animatronic, stop-motion and computer-generated form.[78][79]

Taking inspiration from King Kong, special effects artist Eiji Tsuburaya had initially wanted Godzilla to be portrayed via stop-motion, but prohibitive deadlines and a lack of experienced animators in Japan at the time made suitmation more practical. The first suit consisted of a body cavity made of thin wires and bamboo wrapped in chicken wire for support and covered in fabric and cushions, which were then coated in latex. The first suit was held together by small hooks on the back, though subsequent Godzilla suits incorporated a zipper. Its weight was in excess of 100 kg (220 lb).[40] Prior to 1984, most Godzilla suits were made from scratch, thus resulting in slight design changes in each film appearance.[80] The most notable changes during the 1960s-70s were the reduction in Godzilla's number of toes and the removal of the character's external ears and prominent fangs, features which would later be reincorporated in the Godzilla designs from The Return of Godzilla (1984) onward.[81] The most consistent Godzilla design was maintained from Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) to Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995), when the suit was given a cat-like face and double rows of teeth.[82] Several suit actors had difficulties in performing as Godzilla, due to the suits' weight, lack of ventilation and diminished visibility.[40] Kenpachiro Satsuma in particular, who portrayed Godzilla from 1984 to 1995, described how the Godzilla suits he wore were even heavier and hotter than their predecessors because of the incorporation of animatronics.[83] Satsuma himself suffered numerous medical issues during his tenure, including oxygen deprivation, near-drowning, concussions, electric shocks and lacerations to the legs from the suits' steel wire reinforcements wearing through the rubber padding.[84] The ventilation problem was partially solved in the suit used in 1994's Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, which was the first to include an air duct, which allowed suit actors to last longer during performances.[85] In The Return of Godzilla (1984), some scenes made use of a 16-foot high robotic Godzilla (dubbed the "Cybot Godzilla") for use in close-up shots of the creature's head. The Cybot Godzilla consisted of a hydraulically-powered mechanical endoskeleton covered in urethane skin containing 3,000 computer operated parts which permitted it to tilt its head and move its lips and arms.[86]

In Godzilla (1998), special effects artist Patrick Tatopoulos was instructed to redesign Godzilla as an incredibly fast runner.[87] At one point, it was planned to use motion capture from a human to create the movements of the computer-generated Godzilla, but it was said to have ended up looking too much like a man in a suit.[88] Tatopoulos subsequently reimagined the creature as a lean, digitigrade bipedal iguana-like creature that stood with its back and tail parallel to the ground, rendered via CGI.[89] Several scenes had the monster portrayed by stuntmen in suits. The suits were similar to those used in the Toho films, with the actors' heads being located in the monster's neck region, and the facial movements controlled via animatronics. However, because of the creature's horizontal posture, the stuntmen had to wear metal leg extenders, which allowed them to stand two meters (six feet) off the ground with their feet bent forward. The film's special effects crew also built a ​16 scale animatronic Godzilla for close-up scenes, whose size outmatched that of Stan Winston's T. rex in Jurassic Park.[90] Kurt Carley performed the suitmation sequences for the adult Godzilla.[12]

In Godzilla (2014), the character was portrayed entirely via CGI. Godzilla's design in the reboot was intended to stay true to that of the original series, though the film's special effects team strove to make the monster "more dynamic than a guy in a big rubber suit."[91] To create a CG version of Godzilla, the Moving Picture Company (MPC) studied various animals such as bears, Komodo dragons, lizards, lions and gray wolves which helped the visual effects artists visualize Godzilla's body structure like that of its underlying bone, fat and muscle structure as well as the thickness and texture of its scale.[92] Motion capture was also used for some of Godzilla's movements. T.J. Storm provided the performance capture for Godzilla by wearing sensors in front of a green screen.[14]

In Shin Godzilla, a majority of the character was portrayed via CGI, with Mansai Nomura portraying Godzilla through motion capture.[11]

Cultural impact

Godzillastar
Godzilla's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Godzilla is one of the most recognizable symbols of Japanese popular culture worldwide[93][94] and remains an important facet of Japanese films, embodying the kaiju subset of the tokusatsu genre. Godzilla's vaguely humanoid appearance and strained, lumbering movements endeared it to Japanese audiences, who could relate to Godzilla as a sympathetic character, despite its wrathful nature.[95] Audiences respond positively to the character because it acts out of rage and self-preservation and shows where science and technology can go wrong.[96]

In 1967, the Keukdong Entertainment Company of South Korea, with production assistance from Toei Company, produced Yongary, Monster from the Deep, a reptilian monster who invades South Korea to consume oil. The film and character has often been branded as a knock-off of Godzilla.[97][98]

Godzilla has been considered a filmographic metaphor for the United States, as well as an allegory of nuclear weapons in general. The earlier Godzilla films, especially the original, portrayed Godzilla as a frightening nuclear-spawned monster. Godzilla represented the fears that many Japanese held about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the possibility of recurrence.[99] As the series progressed, so did Godzilla, changing into a less destructive and more heroic character as the films became geared more towards children. Since then, the character has fallen somewhere in the middle, sometimes portrayed as a protector of the world from external threats and other times as a bringer of destruction.[100][101]

In 1996, Godzilla received the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award,[102] as well as being given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004 to celebrate the premiere of the character's 50th anniversary film, Godzilla: Final Wars.[103] Godzilla's pop-cultural impact has led to the creation of numerous parodies and tributes, as seen in media such as Bambi Meets Godzilla, which was ranked as one of the "50 greatest cartoons",[104] two episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000[105] and the song "Godzilla" by Blue Öyster Cult.[106] Godzilla has also been used in advertisements, such as in a commercial for Nike, where Godzilla lost an oversized one-on-one game of basketball to a giant version of NBA player Charles Barkley.[107] The commercial was subsequently adapted into a comic book illustrated by Jeff Butler.[108] Godzilla has also appeared in a commercial for Snickers candy bars, which served as an indirect promo for the 2014 movie. Godzilla's success inspired the creation of numerous other monster characters, such as Gamera,[109][110] Reptilicus of Denmark,[111] Yonggary of South Korea,[97] Pulgasari of North Korea,[112] Gorgo of the United Kingdom[113] and the Cloverfield monster of the United States.[114]

Godzilla's fame and saurian appearance has influenced the scientific community. Gojirasaurus is a dubious genus of coelophysid dinosaur, named by paleontologist and admitted Godzilla fan Kenneth Carpenter.[115] Dakosaurus is an extinct marine crocodile of the Jurassic Period, which researchers informally nicknamed "Godzilla".[116] Paleontologists have written tongue-in-cheek speculative articles about Godzilla's biology, with Ken Carpenter tentatively classifying it as a ceratosaur based on its skull shape, four-fingered hands and dorsal scutes, and paleontologist Darren Naish expressing skepticism while commenting on Godzilla's unusual morphology.[117]

Godzilla's ubiquity in pop-culture has led to the mistaken assumption that the character is in the public domain, resulting in litigation by Toho to protect their corporate asset from becoming a generic trademark. In April 2008, Subway depicted a giant monster in a commercial for their Five Dollar Footlong sandwich promotion. Toho filed a lawsuit against Subway for using the character without permission, demanding $150,000 in compensation.[118] In February 2011, Toho sued Honda for depicting a fire-breathing monster in a commercial for the Honda Odyssey. The monster was never mentioned by name, being seen briefly on a video screen inside the minivan.[119] The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society christened a vessel the MV Gojira. Its purpose is to target and harass Japanese whalers in defense of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The MV Gojira was renamed the MV Brigitte Bardot in May 2011, due to legal pressure from Toho.[120] Gojira is the name of a French death metal band, formerly known as Godzilla; legal problems forced the band to change their name.[121] In May 2015, Toho launched a lawsuit against Voltage Pictures over a planned picture starring Anne Hathaway. Promotional material released at the Cannes Film Festival used images of Godzilla.[122]

Steven Spielberg cited Godzilla as an inspiration for Jurassic Park (1993), specifically Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956), which he grew up watching.[123] Spielberg described Godzilla as "the most masterful of all the dinosaur movies because it made you believe it was really happening."[124] Godzilla also influenced the Spielberg film Jaws (1995).[125][126]

The main-belt asteroid 101781 Gojira, discovered by American astronomer Roy Tucker at the Goodricke-Pigott Observatory in 1999, was named in honor of the creature.[127] The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 11 July 2018 (M.P.C. 110635).[128]

Cultural ambassador

To encourage tourism in April 2015 the central Shinjuku ward of Tokyo named Godzilla an official cultural ambassador. During an unveiling of a giant Godzilla bust at Toho headquarters, Shinjuku mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi stated "Godzilla is a character that is the pride of Japan." The mayor extended a residency certificate to an actor in a rubber suit representing Godzilla, but as the suit's hands were not designed for grasping, it was accepted on Godzilla's behalf by a Toho executive. Reporters noted that Shinjuku ward has been flattened by Godzilla in three Toho movies.[129][130]

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Sources

  • Barr, Jason (2016). The Kaiju Film: A Critical Study of Cinema's Biggest Monsters. McFarland. ISBN 1476623953.
  • Brothers, Peter H. (2009). Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda. CreateSpace Books. ISBN 1492790354.
  • Edwards, Gareth (2014). Godzilla. Warner Bros. Pictures.
  • Galbraith IV, Stuart (1998). Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo! The Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films. Feral House. ISBN 0922915474.
  • Godziszewski, Ed (1994). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Godzilla. Daikaiju Enterprises.
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  • Kalat, David (2010). A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series (second edition). McFarland. ISBN 9780786447497.
  • Lees, J.D.; Cerasini, Marc (1998). The Official Godzilla Compendium. Random House. ISBN 0-679-88822-5.
  • Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 1538103737.
  • Ragone, August (2007). Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-6078-9.
  • Rhoads & McCorkle, Sean & Brooke (2018). Japan's Green Monsters: Environmental Commentary in Kaiju Cinema. McFarland. ISBN 9781476663906.
  • Ryfle, Steve (1998). Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of the Big G. ECW Press. ISBN 1550223488.
  • Ryfle, Steve; Godziszewski, Ed (2017). Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa. Wesleyan University Press. ISBN 978-0-8195-7087-1.
  • Solomon, Brian (2017). Godzilla FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the King of the Monsters. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 9781495045684.
  • Tsutsui, William M. (2003). Godzilla On My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1403964742.

External links

Frankenstein's monster

Frankenstein's monster, often erroneously referred to as "Frankenstein", is a fictional character who first appeared in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Shelley's title thus compares the monster's creator, Victor Frankenstein, to the mythological character Prometheus, who fashioned humans out of clay and gave them fire.

In Shelley's Gothic story, Victor Frankenstein builds the creature in his laboratory through an ambiguous method consisting of chemistry and alchemy. Shelley describes the monster as 8-foot-tall (2.4 m) and hideously ugly, but sensitive and emotional. The monster attempts to fit into human society but is shunned, which leads him to seek revenge against Frankenstein. According to the scholar Joseph Carroll, the monster occupies "a border territory between the characteristics that typically define protagonists and antagonists".Frankenstein's monster became iconic in popular culture, and has been featured in various forms of media, like films, television series, merchandise and video games. His most iconic version is his portrayal by Boris Karloff in the 1931 film Frankenstein.

Godzilla (1954 film)

Godzilla (ゴジラ, Gojira) is a 1954 Japanese kaiju film featuring Godzilla, produced and distributed by Toho. It is the first film in the Godzilla franchise and Shōwa series. The film is directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. The film stars Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, with Haruo Nakajima and Katsumi Tezuka as the performers for Godzilla.

Godzilla entered production after a Japanese-Indonesian co-production collapsed. Tsuburaya originally opted for a giant octopus before the filmmakers decided on a dinosaur-inspired creature. Godzilla pioneered a form of special effects called suitmation, in which a stunt actor wearing a suit crushes a miniature set. Principal photography lasted 51 days and special effects lasted 71 days.

Godzilla was released in Nagoya on October 27, 1954, and released throughout Japan on November 3, 1954, and grossed ¥183 million during its initial theatrical run. In 1956, a heavily re-edited "Americanized" version was released in the United States. The film spawned a multimedia franchise, being recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest running film franchise in history. Godzilla has since become an international pop culture icon and the film has been largely credited for establishing the template for Tokusatsu.

Godzilla (1998 film)

Godzilla is a 1998 American monster film directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich. The film is a reimagining of Toho's Godzilla franchise and is the 23rd film in the franchise and the first Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio. The film stars Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Michael Lerner, and Harry Shearer. The film is dedicated to Tomoyuki Tanaka, the co-creator and producer of various Godzilla films, who died in April 1997.

In October 1992, TriStar Pictures announced plans to produce a trilogy of Godzilla films. Jan de Bont was hired in July 1994 to direct the film based on a script by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. De Bont left the project in December 1994 due to budget disputes and Emmerich was hired in May 1996 to direct and co-write a new script with producer Dean Devlin. Principal photography began in May 1997 and ended in September 1997.

Godzilla was released on May 20, 1998 to negative reviews but was a box office success, grossing $136 million domestically and $379 million worldwide; however, it was considered a box office disappointment. Planned sequels were cancelled and an animated series was produced instead. In 2004, Toho began trademarking new iterations of TriStar's Godzilla as "Zilla", with only the incarnations from the 1998 film and animated show retaining the Godzilla copyright/trademark.

Godzilla (2014 film)

Godzilla is a 2014 American monster film directed by Gareth Edwards. The film is a reboot of Toho's Godzilla franchise and is the 30th film in the Godzilla franchise, the first film in Legendary's MonsterVerse, and the second Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, and Bryan Cranston.

The project began as an IMAX short film in 2004 but was transferred to Legendary in 2009 to be redeveloped as a feature film. The film was officially announced in March 2010 and Edwards was announced as the director in January 2011. Principal photography began in March 2013 in the United States and Canada and ended in July 2013.

Godzilla was released on May 16, 2014 to generally positive reviews, and was a box office success, grossing $200 million domestically and $529.1 million worldwide. The film's success prompted Toho to produce a reboot of their own and Legendary to proceed with sequels, with Godzilla: King of the Monsters set to be released in 2019 and Godzilla vs. Kong to be released in 2020.

Godzilla (franchise)

The Godzilla (ゴジラ, Gojira) franchise is a Japanese kaiju media franchise featuring Godzilla, owned and created by Toho. It is recognized by Guinness World Records to be the longest continuously running movie franchise, having been in ongoing production from 1954 to the present day, with several hiatuses of varying lengths. The film franchise consists of 35 films, 32 produced by Toho and three Hollywood films.

The first film, Godzilla, was directed by Ishirō Honda and released by Toho in 1954 and became an influential classic of the genre. It featured political and social undertones relevant to Japan at the time. The original introduced an acclaimed music score by Akira Ifukube, which was reused in many of the later films. The original also introduced the work of special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya, who used miniatures and "suitmation" to convey the large scale of the monster and its destruction. For its North American release, the film was reworked as an adaptation and released in 1956 as Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. The adaptation featured new footage with Raymond Burr edited together with the original Japanese footage.

Toho was inspired to make the original Godzilla after the commercial success of the 1952 re-release of King Kong and the success of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953). The success of the Godzilla series itself would go on to inspire other monster films worldwide. The popularity of the films has led to the franchise expanding to other media, such as television, music, literature and video games. Godzilla has been one of the most recognizable symbols in Japanese pop culture worldwide, remains a well-known facet of Japanese films and was one of the first examples of the popular kaiju and tokusatsu subgenres in Japanese entertainment.

The tone and themes vary per film. Several of the films have political themes, others have dark tones, complex internal mythology, or are simple action movies featuring aliens or other monsters, while others have simpler themes accessible to children. Godzilla's role varies from purely a destructive force to an ally of humans, or a protector of Japanese values, or a hero to children. The name Godzilla is a romanization of the original Japanese name Gojira—which is a combination of two Japanese words: gorira (ゴリラ), "gorilla", and kujira (クジラ), "whale". The word alludes to the size, power and aquatic origin of Godzilla. As developed by Toho, the monster is an offshoot of the combination of radioactivity and ancient dinosaur-like creatures, indestructible and possessing special powers (see Godzilla characteristics).

Godzilla vs. Kong

Godzilla vs. Kong is an upcoming American monster film directed by Adam Wingard. It is a sequel to Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Kong: Skull Island (2017), and will be the fourth film in Legendary's MonsterVerse. The film will also be the 36th film in the Godzilla franchise, the ninth film in the King Kong franchise, and the fourth Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Jessica Henwick, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, and Demián Bichir.

The project was announced in October 2015 when Legendary announced plans for a shared cinematic universe between Godzilla and King Kong. The film's writers room was assembled in March 2017 and Wingard was announced as the director in May 2017. Principal photography began in November 2018 in Hawaii, Australia, and Hong Kong and wrapped in April 2019. Godzilla vs. Kong is scheduled to be released on March 13, 2020, in 2D, 3D, and IMAX.

Kaiju

Kaijū (怪獣, kaijū, from Japanese "strange beast") is a Japanese film genre that features giant monsters, usually attacking major cities and engaging the military and other monsters in battle. It is a subgenre of tokusatsu entertainment. This word originated from the Chinese Classic of Mountains and Seas. In Legendary Pictures' modern MonsterVerse, the in-universe organization Monarch refers to Kaiju as "Titans".

King Ghidorah

King Ghidorah (キングギドラ, Kingu Gidora) is a film monster originating from Toho's Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964). Although Toho officially trademarks the character as King Ghidorah, the character was originally referred to as Ghidrah in some English markets.Although King Ghidorah's design has remained largely consistent throughout its appearances (an armless, bipedal, golden-scaled, bat-winged dragon with three heads and two tails), its origin story has varied from being an extraterrestrial planet-killing dragon, a genetically engineered monster from the future, or a guardian monster of ancient Japan. The character is usually portrayed as an archenemy of Godzilla and a foe of Mothra, though it has had one appearance as an ally of the latter.Despite rumors that Ghidorah was meant to represent the threat posed by China, which had at the time of the character's creation just developed nuclear weapons, director Ishirō Honda denied the connection and stated that Ghidorah was simply a modern take on the dragon Yamata no Orochi.

King Kong vs. Godzilla

King Kong vs. Godzilla (キングコング対ゴジラ, Kingu Kongu Tai Gojira) is a 1962 Japanese science fiction crossover kaiju film featuring King Kong and Godzilla, produced and distributed by Toho. It is the third film in the Godzilla franchise and Showa series and the first of two Japanese-produced films featuring King Kong. It is also the first time both characters appeared on film in color and widescreen. The film is directed by Ishirō Honda with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya and stars Tadao Takashima, Kenji Sahara, Yū Fujiki, Ichirō Arishima, and Mie Hama, with Shoichi Hirose as King Kong and Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla. Produced as part of Toho's 30th anniversary celebration, this film remains the most attended of all the Godzilla films to date.An American production team produced a heavily altered English version that used new scenes, sound and dubbing. The American production was released theatrically in the United States in the summer of 1963 by Universal Pictures. The film was released in Japan on August 11, 1962.

List of films featuring giant monsters

This is an alphabetical list of films featuring giant monsters, known in Japan as kaiju. One of the first films involving giant monsters was the 1933 classic King Kong, as developments in cinema and animation enabled the creation of realistic giant creatures. The film influenced many giant-monster films in its wake, including many produced in Japan, starting with the adaptation King Kong Appears in Edo in 1938, which is now presumed to be a lost film. The visual effects in King Kong, created by Willis O'Brien, inspired future monster film effects artists such as Ray Harryhausen and Dennis Muren. Early giant-monster films often had themes of adventure and exploration of unknown regions, and incorporated fights with giant monsters as a climactic element.

The development of atomic weaponry in the 1940s gave rise to its involvement in popular themes. The 1953 American film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms featured a giant dinosaur that awakens due to nuclear tests in the Arctic. The 1954 film Them! involved giant irradiated ants. Later in 1954, the Japanese film Godzilla was released. This was followed by an ongoing trend of giant reptiles created by nuclear radiation. Japan continued with a giant moth in Mothra, a turtle in Gamera, and many more that followed. Other countries have their own giant monster movies such as the United Kingdom with Gorgo in 1961.

Films featuring Godzilla and Gamera were made into the 1970s, and a King Kong remake was released in 1976. Awareness of toxic waste in the 1970s inspired the release of various horror films, and the giant monster subgenre saw the release of 1971's Godzilla vs. Hedorah. Godzilla received a 1998 remake by TriStar Pictures, and King Kong received a 2005 remake by Universal Pictures. 2008 saw the release of the successful Cloverfield, which some critics have claimed inspiration from the September 11 attacks. Pacific Rim, a film featuring giant mecha battling with kaiju, was released in 2013, and the following year Legendary reinterpreted Godzilla for a new generation of audiences in the series' 30th film. The latest entry in the Godzilla series, Shin Godzilla, premiered in Japan in July 2016. A reboot of King Kong known as Kong: Skull Island was released in March 2017.

MonsterVerse

The MonsterVerse is an American media franchise and shared fictional universe that is centered on a series of monster films featuring Godzilla and King Kong, produced by Legendary Entertainment and co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros. The first installment was Godzilla (2014), a reboot of the Godzilla franchise, which was followed by Kong: Skull Island (2017), a reboot of the King Kong franchise. The next film to be released will be Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), followed by Godzilla vs. Kong (2020). With two films released to date, the series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

Mothra

Mothra (モスラ, Mosura) is a kaiju that first appeared in Toho's 1961 film Mothra. Mothra has appeared in several Toho tokusatsu films, most often as a recurring character in the Godzilla franchise. She is typically portrayed as a colossal sentient larva (caterpillar) or imago (moth), accompanied by two miniature female humanoids speaking on her behalf. Unlike other Toho monsters, Mothra is a largely heroic character, having been variously portrayed as a protector of her own island culture, the Earth and Japan. Though identified as a kind of moth, the character's design is more evocative of a European peacock butterfly and has caddisfly-like mandibles rather than a proboscis. The character is often depicted hatching offspring (in some cases, twins) when approaching death, a nod to the Saṃsāra doctrine of numerous Indian religions.Mothra is one of Toho’s most popular monsters and second only to Godzilla in its total number of film appearances. Polls taken during the early 1990s indicated that Mothra was particularly popular among women who were, at the time, the largest demographic among Japan's movie-going audience, a fact that prompted the filming of 1992's Godzilla vs. Mothra, which was the best-attended Toho film since King Kong vs. Godzilla. IGN listed Mothra as #3 on their "Top 10 Japanese Movie Monsters" list, while Complex listed the character as #7 on its "The 15 Most Badass Kaiju Monsters of All Time" list.

Rodan

Rodan (Japanese: ラドン, Hepburn: Radon) is a daikaiju monster which first appeared as the title character in Toho's 1956 film Rodan. Though the character started off in its own stand-alone film, Rodan was later featured in the Godzilla franchise. IGN listed Rodan as #6 on their "Top 10 Japanese Movie Monsters" list, while Complex listed the character as #15 on its "The 15 Most Badass Kaiju Monsters of All Time" list.

Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラ, Shin Gojira, also known as Godzilla: Resurgence) is a 2016 Japanese kaiju film featuring Godzilla, produced by Toho and Cine Bazar and distributed by Toho. It is the 31st installment in the Godzilla franchise, the 29th Godzilla film produced by Toho, and Toho's third reboot of the franchise. The film is co-directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, with the screenplay by Anno and special effects by Higuchi. The film stars Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, and Satomi Ishihara and reimagines Godzilla's origins in modern Japan.In December 2014, Toho announced plans for a new domestic Godzilla film. Anno and Higuchi were announced as the directors in March 2015. Principal photography began in September 2015 and ended in October 2015. Inspiration for the film was drawn from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.Shin Godzilla had its premiere at the Hotel Gracery in Shinjuku, Tokyo on July 25, 2016, and was released nationwide on July 29, 2016, in IMAX, 4DX, and MX4D. It received acclaim from Japanese critics and mixed reviews from Western critics. The film was the highest-grossing live-action Japanese film of 2016 and became the highest grossing Japanese-produced Godzilla film in the franchise. It received 11 Japan Academy Prize nominations and won seven, including Picture of the Year and Director of the Year.

Toho

Toho Co., Ltd. (東宝株式会社, Tōhō Kabushiki-gaisha) is a Japanese film, theater production, and distribution company. It has its headquarters in Yūrakuchō, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Tokyo and is one of the core companies of the Hankyu Hanshin Toho Group. Outside Japan, it is best known as the producer and distributor of many kaiju and tokusatsu films, the Chouseishin tokusatsu superhero television franchise, the films of Akira Kurosawa, and the anime films of Studio Ghibli, TMS Entertainment and OLM, Inc.. Other famous directors, including Yasujirō Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Masaki Kobayashi, and Mikio Naruse, also directed films for Toho.

Toho's most famous creation is Godzilla, who is featured in 33 of the company's films. Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah and Mechagodzilla are described as Toho's Big Five because of the monsters' numerous appearances in all three eras of the franchise, as well as spin-offs. Toho has also been involved in the production of numerous anime titles. Its subdivisions are Toho-Towa Distribution, Toho Pictures Incorporated, Toho International Company Limited, Toho E. B. Company Limited, and Toho Music Corporation & Toho Costume Company Limited. The company is the largest shareholder (7.96%) of Fuji Media Holdings Inc.

Toho is a member of the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan (MPPAJ), and is one of Japan's Big Four film studios.

Tokusatsu

Tokusatsu (Japanese: 特撮, "special filming") is a Japanese term for live-action film or television drama that makes heavy use of special effects. Tokusatsu entertainment often deals with science fiction, fantasy or horror, but films and television shows in other genres can sometimes count as tokusatsu as well. The most popular types of tokusatsu include kaiju monster films like the Godzilla and Gamera film series; superhero TV serials such as the Kamen Rider and Metal Hero series; and mecha dramas like Giant Robo. Some tokusatsu television programs combine several of these subgenres, for example the Ultraman and Super Sentai series.

Tokusatsu is one of the most popular forms of Japanese entertainment, but despite the popularity of films and television programs based on tokusatsu properties such as Godzilla or Super Sentai, most tokusatsu films and television programs are not widely known outside Asia.

Films
Television
Video games
Miscellaneous
Kaiju
Related films
See also
Films
Related films
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Animation
Video games
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Kaiju
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