As the star character in more than 30 movies, not to mention a whole host of spinoff media, Godzilla has a story for everyone. Originally created in 1954 as a monstrous metaphor for atomic destruction in Japan, Godzilla has been a force of nature, a hero and even a parental figure. He’s also a hell of a fighter.
GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, opening on May 31, is a sequel to the 2014 American film GODZILLA. The story brings several classic kaiju into the mix for the mighty lizard to fight, too. Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah will all get their licks in. Naturally, that has us thinking about our favorite battle scenes from films of years past. Here are five Godzilla battles we love most.
Shin Godzilla (2016)
We’ll start with the most recent live-action movie featuring the storied monster. Famed “Neon Genesis Evangelion” creator Hideaki Anno wrote and directed this very unusual Godzilla movie, which focuses on the bureaucracy of trying to fight a giant monster even as a bizarrely bug-eyed larval version of Godzilla moves in on Tokyo. Sound weird? It is — but SHIN GODZILLA is also compelling and often amazing. Doesn’t hurt that the film features some of the weirdest and coolest visions of Godzilla ever put on screen. When the creature achieves his final form in a last-ditch battle with the Japanese army, it’s really a sight to behold.
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
The 1990s were kind of a rough time for our giant lizard friend in several respects. Efforts to make serious movies can came off as camp, and some of the decade felt like a return to the goofy days of the 1960s. But then, there are genius moments, such as the battles in this mid-‘90s adventure that pits Godzilla and adopted son Godzilla Junior (remember that note about camp?) against Destoroyah. The villain is really a set of ancient creatures that combine and evolve — and ultimately are more of a force than Godzilla can withstand. Their final battle is a colorful and crazy thing of beauty, with Godzilla being destroyed from within as his heart literally melts down like a nuclear reactor. If that isn’t a big ol’ metaphor, we don’t know what is.
Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
The enemy kaiju of this movie’s title is basically a big plant cloned from a mix of Godzilla’s DNA and genetic information from a rose. Biollante only ever appeared in this one dark, serious movie, which features a pair of knock-down fights between the two title characters. The second showdown is our fave, as Biollante has evolved to sport a giant, webbed, crocodile mouth over a glowing belly flanked by tentacles with mouths. The creature is a total nightmare, so of course we love it.
Destroy All Monsters (1968)
Infinity what? Fifty years before Marvel mashed its popular characters into one movie, Toho Studios assembled the greatest collection of monsters ever seen. After a few years pitched toward younger kids, the Godzilla movies made a play for older audiences once again with this battle royale movie that is probably the closest kin to GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS. Mothra, Rodan, Anguirus, Varan, Gorosaurus, Kumonga and Manda are just some of the contenders who trade blows. They ultimately team up with Godzilla to stomp all over King Ghidorah, as the three-headed beast emerges as this wild movie’s big bad. If you want nothing more than all-out monster action, look no further.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
So many of the monsters battled by Godzilla are creatures that fly or crawl, so the far more articulate King Kong offers a very different type of adversary. Kong and the atomic lizard really slug it out in the finale of this crossover movie, which features Godzilla literally kicking rocks to bury the big gorilla, who retaliates by cramming a whole tree down Godzilla’s throat. The entire movie isn’t great, but this final fight is one of the best of the “men in rubber suits” era. It also points to the future of the current franchise, as Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. are shooting their own updated GODZILLA VS. KONG right now.
GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS stomps into theatres on May 31.