“Listen kid. There's two things you don't know about the Earth: one is me, and the other is Godzilla,” said Captain Douglas Gordon to the Xilien Commander in “Godzilla: Final Wars”.
And certainly, how much do we know about this kaiju (Japanese giant monster)?
Godzilla comes from the word “Gorija” which is Japanese for “The King of the Monsters”. This giant monster made its first appearance over half a century ago in Ishiro Honda's 1954 film “Godzilla”. Ever since, Godzilla has become a pop culture icon all over the world.
The famous Japanese monster has not only starred in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd, but also has appeared in several other media incarnations such as video games, novels, comic books, and television series.
Nowadays, most people are familiar with Godzilla, but not everybody knows that this creature that terrorizes mankind was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons. Indeed, this creature was born in 1954 when the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident was still fresh in the Japanese consciousness. Hence, Godzilla was envisaged as a gigantic mutant dinosaur transformed from the fallout of an atomic bomb test.
As the film series continued, some stories portrayed the character of Godzilla as a hero. In these story lines, Godzilla saves the world from other threats - usually from Outer Space - such as King Ghidorah, Gigan and MechaGodzilla, along with other monsters like Rodan and Mothra. In some other plots, Godzilla was the lesser of two menaces, who plays the defender by default yet is still a threat to humanity.
For many people worldwide, Godzilla is one of the defining elements of Japanese pop culture. Even though its popularity has weakened throughout the years, Godzilla continues to be one of the most renowned monster characters in the world. Today, the King of the Monsters is still an central feature of Japanese films, embodying the kaiju subset of the tokusatsu genre.