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5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Godzilla

5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Godzilla

We've got a new Godzilla film coming out and all signs point to it being as colon-stompingly awesome as we could possibly hope for. For me, this is a personal victory. The first film I ever remember both loving and being completely terrified of is Godzilla 1985, and then when I saw what was done with the franchise 13 years later I honestly felt bad for being American. Hopefully now some redemption for that heinous act is at hand.

With his long and varied history there are a lot of myths about the King of Monsters that have been bandied about over the years. Today we're here to shatter some of those myths.

5 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Godzilla

Godzilla is Green To most Americans Godzilla is a big green wrecking machine, but that's purely something that we dreamed up. Despite all the animated, comic, and movie appearances that he's made in this country Godzilla has almost never been green in his original films in Japan. A few official video game appearances aside, that is.

The only Godzilla suit that was painted naturally green is the MireGoji suit used in Godzilla 2000: Millennium and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus. Otherwise, Godzilla is actually supposed to be charcoal black.

A Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) swimming in the water at Punta Espinosa, Fernandina island (Galapagos Islands).
A Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) swimming in the water at Punta Espinosa, Fernandina island (Galapagos Islands).
Putneymark via Wikipedia

Godzilla is a Lizard It's not just the 1998 film that has fostered this myth. True, in that movie Godzilla is explicitly a mutated marine iguana, but even in other films he has been mistakenly identified as some sort of overgrown reptile. This is not accurate.

Officially, Godzilla is the result of atomic radiation mutating a Godzillasaurus, a large theropod that had survived the extinction of the dinosaurs on Lagos Island. Time travelers looking to prevent Godzilla from every being created dragged a wounded Godzillasaurus to the Bering Strait and dumped it into the see, where a nuclear submarine crash ultimate resulted in the monster they had sought to destroy.

Speaking of 1998's big lizard...

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The Roland Emmerich Monster is Godzilla Though the giant lizard in the 1998 American film is called Godzilla by a Japanese fisherman, he was mistaken. The creature that rampaged through New York was not Godzilla. Though similar-looking enough and birthed from the same principles, it lacked several distinguishing characteristics of the true King of Monsters.

In Godzilla mythology the monster is referred to as Zilla. Toho Studios retroactively changed the name after they re-acquired the rights to Godzilla from TriStar in 2004. In Godzilla: Final Wars Zilla stood toe to toe with the real Godzilla, attacking the legendary monster while under control of the Xiliens. Charging Godzilla head-on, Zilla is quickly thrown over the horizon and blasted by Godzilla powerful breath. It's the shortest battle in the history of the Godzilla films.

As for the breath...

Godzilla Breathes Fire Though he is best known for his powerful physical prowess, including the always entertaining tail-slide dropkick, Godzilla does employ a powerful distance attack in the form a blast from his mouth.

Many, including official comic adaptations, take this to be an expression of typical dragon's fire. This can be forgiven as Godzilla is pretty clearly breathing what looks to be fire on the first film's poster. In actuality, what Godzilla emits is actually an atomically charged nuclear powered heat ray. This usually manifests as the color blue, with more powerful versions appearing orange.

Godzilla Beat King Kong King Kong vs. Godzilla is not a really great film, even when you consider that I'm talking about movies about guys in rubber monster suits beating each other up. Still, you can't blame anyone for wanting to give it a shot. Putting the two biggest monsters up against each other is basically a license to print money.

For years it was believed that there were two versions of the movie. In America, King Kong emerged from under the waves after their final bout as the victor. But back before the internet and easily accessible foreign versions of films, it was widely believed that the Japanese version switched the victors in what would have been an understandable move.

It's not true, though. King Kong beats Godzilla in both films. It makes since when you realize first that the original idea was an American film where King Kong took on a giant version of Frankenstein's monster. After finding zero interest in the states the script made it over to Toho, who loved the idea. Since King Kong was actually the bigger star even in Japan at the time, and was a currently still a villainous character in any case, allowing the ape to triumph made perfect sense.

Somehow, though, I doubt Godzilla's going down so easily this time around.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.


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