Up from the Depths
A character study of the King of the Monsters.
Godlzilla King of the Monsters! No one really knows the origin of this walking, breathing force of nature. Many people believe that Godzilla is an ancient God made flesh to punish us all for our sins. Others theorize that he's a prehistoric monstrocity, awoken from a million years sleep and twisted into something horrible by neuclear testing.
It was the early 90's, about 92 or 93, when I first learned of Godzilla on Disney Channel's Triple Feature Friday. Back then kids, the Disney channel was actually cool.
At the end of the week, Disney channel had awesome evening lignups on Thursday and Friday. Thursday was BOUNES. 2 shows and a movie. The 1st show was Erie Indiana, the other show had something to do with a Short Circut ripp-off, I dunno. Then a random movie. On Friday, we had Tripple Feature Friday, which showed 3 movies all sharing a common theme. 1 Friday in particular was called Triple Creature Friday, I'm guessing 'cause it was Halloween. The 3 films were the 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Godzilla Raids Again, and King Kong vs. Godzilla. My dad and my Uncle were ecstatic but I was clueless. "Who's Godzilla?" I asked. My Uncle gladly explained "He's a giant Dinosaur who breathes fire!" Now, back then all you had to say was 'dinosaur' and I was hooked! So I sat through Sinbad, which was awesome. The giant 2-headed vulture, the Cyclopes, the Dragon, truely one of Harryhausen's greatest works. Then came Godzilla Raids Again. As the opening credits rolled I noticed scenes of army tanks taking formation and jet fighters crashing, and I thought to myself "This Godzilla dude must be a big deal if they need to bring the army in!" How right I was. I watched in awe as two latex behemoths, Godzilla and Anguirus wrestled for supremacy over the unfortunate city of Osaka. Not even the iconic Osaka Castle, which had survived several wars, was not safe from the brawling kaiju. Kaju, a word I would some day learn to appriciate. Sorry Kong, time for you to scoot over.
So then, who is Godzilla exactly? And I don't mean superficially, or in a metaphysically sense like who's the actor in the rubber suit. No, I mean who is Godzilla as a character? Well Retro Junkies, that's what we're here to discover. Now Godzilla has played at least 2 roles in his 50 year carrier. Menace, and hero. Some might say this change is due to the camp trend of the '60s & '70s, or inconsistent writing. That may be true, from a certain point of view. But after years of re viewings and philosophizing, I believe I have the answer. And what an answer it is. Let's begin shall we?....
In the original Japanese cut of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, or "Gojira" if you wanna be anal (lol), Godzilla's exact origin is only theorized. It's ambiguous, as I personally feel it should be. My philosophy is that he started as the spirit of an ancient sea dragon who would devour wicked human beings back in the fudel era. It wasn't until America's atomic testing in the South Pacific that Gojira found himself a new body in the form of a perfectly preserved amphibious dinosaur that floated up from an undersea cave that had been opened up by H-bomb explosions. In short, he's kinda like Kurama from Yuu Yuu Hakusho.
This is of course superfluous to my overall point. In the end, however he was made, Godzilla was birthed by the powers that be to restore balance to the Earth. The first person to shout "Captain Planet" get's a boot in the ass.
Mankind had done terrible things in the former part of the 20th century. Not only to mother Earth, but to themselves. The two offences being WWII, Hiroshima, and the H-bomb tests. Godzilla rampaged across Tokyo, trampling people beneath his mighty feet, burning them alive with his heat ray, or crushing them beneath their own buildings which he toppled with his bare clawed hands. But this was not an act of evil and genocide, but rather one to both punish and humble human kind. Howitzers, fighter jets armed with gatling guns and missiles, even Sherman Tanks, the greatest non nuclear weaponry human ingenuity could offer (At the time anyway) Were no match for this scaley juggernaut. In the end, Godzilla's initial and subsiquent rampages showed mankind that there are forces even grater than he, and that every bad decision has a dire consequence.
"But Skeletor, you grandparents' basement dwelling virgin" some of you may be saying. "If Humanity sucks so bad, then why does Godzilla sometimesturn around and fight to protect us!?" Well friend, the reason for that is actually 4 fold. As said before, Godzilla's purpose is only to put the human race back in their place. Kinda like when your dad sits you down and tells you what's what when you're getting all upity. But when another monster and/or alien race come in with the intention of total genocide and destruction of the planet, he must rise to protect mother Earth. Such as with King Ghidorah the golden 3-headed eater of worlds, Hedorah the noxious Smog Monster who spread poison and death wherever he went, or Gigan the murderous cyborg who would probably engage in wanton destruction even if he weren't under alien cockroach control, and Mecha-Godzilla his heartless robotic twin. Of course, he's not above turning back around and trampling a few buildings on his way back to the ocean. In other scenarios, he will engage other kaiju who are attempting to stop him from fulfilling his purpose. Such as the multiple occasions when he fought Mothra. Other times he'll fight another monster when they attempt to usurper him in the crusade against human stupidity. Such as when he fought Mothra's dark and malicious sister Battra, or Megalon the guard dog of a race of unhappy ocean dwellers. He is convinced that it his mission alone, and he'll be damned if anyone else is gonna take this from him. And sometimes he's really just fighting to assert his dominance over all others and defend his territory. He is, among other things, a beast after all. Good examples of this would be his most famous bout with King Kong the 8th wonder of the world, his very first battle against future bff Anguirus, or the first time he met Rodan and the 2 spent half the movie kicking the crap out of each other before teaming up against Ghidorah.
(Don't even ask me what half this crap is.)
So then, we come to our finall topic. What exactly makes Godzilla worthy of the title "King of the Monsters"? Is it his size? His strength and abilities? The number of sequals he's starred in? Absolutely not. While all those attributes are awesome, they do not a proper king make. I can name several characters that are larger and much more powerful than him. However his abilities do factor into it to a degree. As short as his list of abilities is, Godzilla takes what he has and stretches them as far as they'll go to get the job done. Even if sometimes the results are downright goofy. One of Godzilla's other superpowers, aside from his famous atomic fire breath, is his power of regeneration. The ability to repair or replace damaged tissue. Hedorah shoots a wad of sulfuric acid spooge in his left eye burning it? No problem! That eyeball will be good as new by the end of the week. Or at least by the next movie. Biollante's super strong vines punch a hole through his hand? So what? That hole will be gone faster than you can say Jim Caviezel!!! But even if he couldn't regrow body parts, Godzilla would keep on fighting as long as he draws breath. One aspect he has carried throughout his many sequals and incarnations is his his attitude of being totally invincible. Nothing will stop him. From reeking havoc, from saving the world, from walking forward! (Except maybe for those two films made by that ape sh moron, Masaaki Tezuka.) He absolutely refuses to die or be beaten! He does not know fear, he does not know pain, and he certainly does not know mercy.
It is these aspects to his character that has carried him through 50-odd years of giant monster mayhem, and will keep him going for as long as we have entertainment media.
Wow,so yeah, this is my very first article on Retro Junk. I hope it was to you guys' liking. I guess I should close out with the point I'm trying to make. In the end, it's not his size, powers, or revenue that make Godzilla the King of the Monsters, but rather who/what he is on the inside. He is the deadly consequence of the stupidity that seems to be woven into our DNA. So as long as Human kind continues screwing themselves, eachother, and mother nature, Godzilla, and indeed all kaiju, will always be relevant.
Hail to the King,baby.
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