The Wild History of Godzilla's Evolution

Godzilla first appeared in the titular giant monster film that debuted in 1954, created as an analogy for the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, and since this first outing, he has become the most popular giant monster among a cadre of kaiju. With Godzilla Vs. Kong having already hit HBO Max and theaters earlier this week, we thought that now would be the perfect time to dive into the lizard king's past and see how he made the jump from Toho Studios in the East to cinemas in North America with the Legendary Pictures' version that stomps through the MonsterVerse.

For decades, Godzilla appeared in movies thanks to the creative minds at Toho, normally portrayed by men in suits when it came to the different eras of the lizard king, including the likes of the Showa Series that introduced the world to many of the other monsters that fought against, or with, the king of the monsters, the Heisei Series that brought Godzilla into the 1980s that set him into a far more villainous role, and the Millennium Series that brought Godzilla into the new millennium with movies such as Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla and Godzilla: Final Wars.

Godzilla Evolution
(Photo: Toho & Warner Bros Pictures)

In 1998, Toho decided to team up with some movie producers in the West and create a new version of the lizard king that looked far more like a rampaging lizard than anything we had seen before. Whereas the earlier versions of Godzilla gave fans an interpretation of the lizard king that stood straight on his two hind legs, 'Zilla, as he is dubbed following the movie's release, was given a much larger jaw and head, while looking closer to a Tyrannosaurus Rex than the kaiju that so many fans were familiar with.

Godzilla 1998 received harsh reviews, with many believing that it wasn't able to live up to the previous iterations of the character and thus was never successful enough to warrant a sequel, with North America deciding to put a lid on bringing back a new version of the character until Legendary Pictures introduced a new take on the lizard king via the 2014 titular film.

2014's Godzilla was the first installment of Legendary Pictures' MonsterVerse, which would eventually open the doors for not only Kong: Skull Island in three years, but would also give the lizard king future enemies to fight in Godzilla: King of the Monsters and the recent Godzilla Vs. Kong. This version of Godzilla was easily one of the largest versions of the kaiju that we've seen to date, with the king of the monsters towering over the cities he would stomp through.

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During the same time period as the Legendary Pictures' Godzilla, we also received a new version of the lizard king that was perhaps the most terrifying yet in Shin Godzilla, released in Japan in 2016 with a far more gruesome visage than anything we've seen before. The future of Godzilla is up in the air in terms of live-action movies in both the East and the West, though we doubt we've seen the end of the giant lizard across the board.

What is your favorite version of Godzilla? Feel free to let us know in the comments or hit me up directly on Twitter @EVComedy to talk all things comics, anime, and the world of kaiju.