There’s just something special about giant monsters. Popularly referred to as Kaiju, these behemoths have been captivating audiences since the original “King Kong” debuted in 1933. Despite the genre technically getting its start in the U.S., Toho’s “Big Five” of Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla and Rodan would go on to redefine the genre, with Godzilla in particular starring in 32 movies, earning it the title “King of the Monsters.”
While Godzilla’s American-made films have been mediocre at their absolute best, the recent success of “Kong: Skull Island” and the promise of at least two more films in Legendary Entertainment’s MonsterVerse (one of which will have Kong and Godzilla go head to head) has fans buzzing about which iconic movie monsters might be due for a comeback. Today, we’re taking a look at the 15 kaiju we’d like to see return after “Kong: Skull Island.”
WARNING: The following list contains spoilers for the “Kong: Skull Island” post-credits scene.
At some point or another, every iconic hero (or giant morally ambiguous reptile) has to go toe to toe with an evil, seemingly more powerful version of themselves. If you’re Godzilla, you have to fight two. While not nearly as well-known as his robot counterpart, Mechagodzilla, the alien creature known as SpaceGodzilla made its first and only big-screen appearance in Toho’s 1994 film “Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla.”
SpaceGodzilla was created when Godzilla’s D.N.A. was brought into space by fellow kaiju Biolante and/or Mothra and was exposed to the radiation from a black hole. After arriving on Earth, SpaceGodzilla begins wreaking havoc (even trapping Godzilla’s son, Godzilla Junior, in a crystal prison) before revealing its plan to use Fukuoka Tower as a power converter slowly draining the Earth of its core. SpaceGodzilla is so powerful that it easily defeats both M.O.G.E.R.A. (the giant robot built by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces from the remains of Mechagodzilla) and Godzilla on multiple occasions, before the two team up to take him down. When the MonsterVerse is finally ready to have Kong and Godzilla team up, SpaceGodzilla would be a worthy adversary.
Beyond its massive size, Ebirah, the giant lobster kaiju who served as one of the primary antagonists of “Godzilla Versus The Sea Monster” — originally called “Ebirah, Horror of the Deep” upon its original 1966 Japanese release — doesn’t have much of anything going for it as far as special powers are concerned. However, the simple fact that Ebirah is a water-dwelling kaiju instead of a land-dwelling one makes it a contender on this list.
While Ebirah as a character probably lacks the substance to carry a film entirely on its own (even in the original, it shared the screen with a condor kaiju named Daikondura) it would make for a great cameo alongside some other kaiju based on sea creatures. Considering the scene with Kong’s fight against a giant octopus was one of the more memorable moments in “Skull Island,” here’s hoping the MonsterVerse dives a little deeper (excuse the pun) into sea creatures like Ebirah in future instalments.
13. KING CAESAR
Originally called King Shisa in Japan, the kaiju known in the West as King Caesar first appeared alongside Godzilla in the 1974 film “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.” The monster’s original name and design are a reference to the Okinawan myth of the Shisa. These lion-like creatures were Okinawa’s take on the guardian lions found in China, and were said to have protected Okinawa from evil.
In his debut, King Caesar mirrors this role as a protector of humanity by emerging to help Godzilla defeat the original (alien) Mechagodzilla. In battle, King Caesar is shown to rely more on agility than brute force, and also has the ability to absorb enemy’s energy attacks through his eyes before redirecting the attack back tenfold. Though he would almost certainly never make the cut for his own solo movie, it would be fun to see King Caesar return to back Godzilla up against some greater threat.
Conceived as the final foe for Godzilla, the kaiju Destoroyah is perhaps the most savage creature The King of Monsters has ever fought. Billed as the final instalment in the second series of Godzilla films, 1995’s “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” featured a callback to the 1954 original by connecting Destoroyah’s origin to the Oxygen Destroyer used to defeat Godzilla in the first film.
Originating as a colony of microscopic Precambrian crustaceans mutated by the weapon, Destoroyah emerged as man-sized monsters before eventually combining into a flying form that was defeated by Godzilla Junior. In its final form, Destoroyah towers over Godzilla and even kills Godzilla Junior. Though the creature easily defeats an injured Godzilla, Destoroyah is eventually defeated by the combined efforts of Godzilla and the J.S.D.F, before Godzilla’s own demise. While the character is obviously one the MonsterVerse would need to work up to, he could be a perfect antagonist for an Avengers-style team up of the heroic kaiju like Godzilla, Kong, Rodan and Mothra.
Making his debut in the 1973 film, “Godzilla vs. Megalon,” the beetle-like kaiju Megalon is the God of the Seatopians, who were sent to the surface to take revenge against the human race for poisoning their world with nuclear tests. Though he isn’t the brightest enemy Godzilla has ever faced, he does have one of the more impressive arsenals.
Megalon is able to fire lightening attacks from its horn, spit the equivalent of napalm bombs from its mouth and, of course, has the use of its signature drill hands. Megalon is also incredibly quick, being able to leap 10km at a time, dig at a speed of mach 2, fly at a speed of mach 3 and swim at a speed of mach 4. While Megalon isn’t nearly as memorable or creative as some of his contemporaries, “Kong: Skull Island” served as a great reminder of just how terrifying giant insects (or arachnids) can be when handled properly.
In a desire to give Godzilla an adversary that was more than just another “giant lobster,” Director Yoshimitsu Banno created Hedorah for the 1971 film “Godzilla vs. Hedorah.” A creature that thrived off pollution, Hedorah was meant to echo the Japanese’s concerns about the man-made diseases caused by the massive pollution problems that plagued Japan in the ’70s. Originating from the Dark Gas Nebula located in the Orion constellation, Hedorah travels to Earth, landing in Suruga Bay as a giant tadpole where it begins feeding on the pollution in the water.
Much like Destoroyah, Hedorah went through several stages: a quadrupedal reptilian, a flying saucer like form and finally the more humanoid looking blob pictured above. Godzilla attempts to stop Hedorah from continuing its rampage across Japan, but discovers that his atomic breath has no affect on the monster. Godzilla ultimately requires an assist from the J.S.D.F., who discover Hedorah is vulnerable to temperatures high enough to dehydrate it. As awesome as the more traditional giant beasts and mechas are, kaiju like Hedorah made for a great change of pace and seeing the character return for a similar environmentalism-centered narrative could be interesting.
First appearing in 1989’s “Godzilla vs. Biollante,” the Plant/Human/Godzilla hybrid, Biollante, was originally conceived by a dentist named Shinichiro Kobayashi who won a story writing contest for the film. Despite significant changes to the monster’s design, Kobayashi’s original vision for the character’s origin remained mostly intact. Dr. Genshiro Shiragami was a just a scientist attempting to use Godzilla’s D.N.A. to create more resilient crops until a bomb destroys his lab and kills his daughter.
In an attempt to hold on to her, Shiragami spliced her DNA with a rose and then later with Godzilla’s DNA in hopes of making the rose immortal. Instead, however, this inadvertently creates the hybrid kaiju he names Biollante. While in her original form, Biollante escapes to Lake Ashino after an attack on the lab and summons a recently escaped Godzilla. The two fight and, after Godzilla incinerates her, Biollante reforms near Osaka in her more reptilian final form where Godzilla defeats her again by firing his atomic breath into her mouth. Much like Hedorah, Biollante is memorable for pulling inspiration from real-life issues like genetic engineering, and that kind of science-fiction inspired story could bring much-needed variety to the series as it progresses.
Originally appearing in Toho’s 1965 film “Frankenstein Conquers the World,” Baragon is a quadrupedal mammalian-looking dinosaur kaiju known for its signature horn and large ears. In its first appearance, Baragon is depicted as a dinosaur that burrowed underground to survive the extinction event that led to the end of the dinosaurs. When the sounds of a nearby factory awaken it, Baragon goes on a rampage that’s blamed on Frankenstein. When the two later have an all-out brawl, Frankenstein manages to defeat Baragon by snapping its neck.
Baragon would then join the Godzilla series in 1968’s “Destroy All Monsters” as one of several kaiju being mind-controlled by an invading alien race, and returned in the third wave of Godzilla films for 2001’s “Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack” as one of the film’s three ancient guardian monsters. Though he doesn’t have much in the way of special powers beyond a flame ray shot from his mouth and the ability to jump and burrow, Baragon’s unique design is enough for us to want to see him get another chance on the big screen.
The first kaiju to ever make Godzilla bleed, Gigan made his debut in 1972’s “Godzilla vs. Gigan” as the tool of an alien species from a dying planet in the M Space Hunter Nebula, who hoped to exterminate humanity and colonize Earth. After the lukewarm financial returns on “Godzilla vs. Hedorah,” Godzilla Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka wanted to see the series shift its focus back to stories focused on more popular monsters and more “conventional” stories like alien invasions.
Gigan was the first new monster created after this shift and proved popular thanks to his toy-friendly design, going on to appear as a villain again the next year in both “Godzilla vs. Megalon” and the Godzilla-cannon show “Zone Fighter.” As a cyborg, Gigan became known for his iconic hook-blade hands and buzzsaw chest weapon, and subsequent appearances have seen the character augmented with chainsaw hands, an optical laser and the ability to fire boomerang shurikens. Though his design is admittedly the sort of thing a little boy might come up with, isn’t that part of the fun of these movies in the first place?
Arguably the least well-known of Toho’s “Big Five,” Rodan made his debut in his own film titled, “Rodan” in 1956. Much like Godzilla, Rodan was originally portrayed as a destructive monster before becoming a more heroic character after becoming a part of the Godzilla franchise. Making his first appearance in a Godzilla movie in “Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster,” Rodan and Godzilla originally fight one another before teaming up with Mothra to defeat King Ghidorah.
In addition to his incredible flying speed, Rodan also has the ability to create destructive shockwaves and powerful gusts of wind capable of demolishing cities and exhibits incredible strength and durability (he’s shown to be able to lift Godzilla and is one of the few creatures immune to his atomic blast). Legendary has already confirmed they’ve acquired the rights to Rodan for use in the MonsterVerse (and teased the character at the end of Kong: Skull Island), so here’s hoping a new solo Rodan movie isn’t far off, or that the character will at least make an appearance in 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”
Though he made his debut in 1955’s “Godzilla Raids Again” as the first monster to ever fight Godzilla (establishing the popular trend of seeing kaiju duke it out), Anguirus has since gone on to become something of an unofficial sidekick to Godzilla. Regularly teaming up with Godzilla only to get his clock cleaned by more powerful kaiju, he’s basically the Krillin to Godzilla’s Goku.
Despite lacking any special abilities, Anguirus is shown to be a fierce fighter who constantly takes on foes more powerful than himself without backing down. Though he’s never won an onscreen fight without Godzilla’s help, he’s become a fan favorite because of his unquestionable status as Godzilla’s truest friend and ally. With the post-credits scene in “Kong: Skull Island” hinting that Godzilla will be taking on King Ghidorah in his next solo movie, this would be the perfect time for the ultimate kaiju jobber to make his return.
The string of robot kaiju known as Mechagodzilla have been among Godzilla’s most popular and iconic foes. Inspired by Mechani-Kong, King Kong’s own robot double, Mechagodzilla was intended as a more serious foe for Godzilla after the lukewarm reaction to its most recent predecessors Gigan and Megalon. As we mentioned above, the first Mechagodzilla was an alien weapon who made its debut in “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.” and proved popular enough to warrant a (much less successful) sequel in 1975’s “Terror of Mechagodzilla.”
A new Mechagodzilla debuted in the second series of films in 1993’s “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II” as a weapon built by the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center. After combining with an airship to form Super-Mechagodzilla, the mecha is defeated by the combined efforts of Godzilla and Fire Rodan. The third and final version of the character debuted in the Millennium series of movies, and is again a man-made machine, but is instead called Kiryu and was made by the Japanese military by building a mecha using the original Godzilla’s skeleton. Regardless of which version of the character Legendary decides to use, we can’t wait to see Mechagodzilla’s return.
Every McDonald’s needs a Burger King, every Nintendo needs a Sega and every Godzilla needs a Gamera. Before you rush to the comments, we know Gamera isn’t a part of the Toho family, making an appearance in Legendary’s MonsterVerse highly unlikely. However, with a potential kaiju renaissance right around the corner, we think it’s high time The Absolute Guardian of the Universe and Friend of All Children made a comeback.
Originally appearing in Daiei Film’s 1965 movie “Gamera: The Giant Monster” Gamera was intentionally created as an answer to Toho’s Godzilla series. Despite never quite reaching the same level of popularity as the character that inspired him, Gamera went on to star in two separate films and had another reboot in 2006. Another modern reboot was planned (with a trailer even being shown off at New York Comic Con in 2015), but there’s been no word on the project since and the trailers have since been taken off YouTube, so here’s hoping we see Gamera again soon.
2. KING GHIDORAH
In all but one appearance, King Ghidorah has been the archenemy of Godzilla (and Mothra) ever since its debut in 1964’s “Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.” Though his backstory has varied, painting him as an ancient alien entity, a genetically engineered weapon from the future (which later got its own mecha counterpart) and finally as a guardian of Japan and an ally of Mothra, King Ghidorah’s signature look and trademark gravity beam attack have remained consistent across every incarnation of the character. Though he’s generally considered “evil” for the vast majority of his appearances, King Ghidorah has been under some kind of mind control to be used as a weapon for the vast majority of the character’s appearances.
As we mentioned above, the post-credits scene in “Kong: Skull Island” has already seemingly confirmed Godzilla will be taking on King Ghidorah again for the first time in over 15 years in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Considering the scene also teased Rodan and Mothra, it seems possible that the next Godzilla film could be something of a spiritual successor to “Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster,” seeing Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra team up to fight King Ghidorah.
Toho’s second-most popular kaiju after Godzilla, Mothra (and her offspring of the same name) have appeared in four solo movies and in nine movies within the Godzilla franchise. Unique among kaiju for almost always being portrayed as both heroic and a female, the various Mothra and the miniature human priestesses who speak on their behalf always act as guardians of their island, Japan or the Earth as a whole.
Considering we’re seeing different Mothra across the films —not only from reboots, but also because of Mothra dying and being replaced by her offspring— her powers vary greatly across every appearance (especially for her son Mothra Leo in the “Rebirth of Mothra” trilogy). However, Mothra is consistently shown to be one of the most powerful kaiju on Earth, with every iteration exhibiting the ability to create gusts of wind, emit some kind of offensive powder and utilize powerful psychic abilities. Just like Rodan, the post-credits scene for “Kong: Skull Island” has confirmed that it isn’t a matter of if, but when we’ll see Mothra in a MonsterVerse movie, and we can’t wait.
Which movie monster would you like to see make a comeback? Let us know in the comments below!
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