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30 of Tom Hanks’ Best & Worst Movie Roles, Ranked
Tom Hanks is one of the most talented and decorated American actors of all time. Since the 1980s, he’s graced our screens in more than 80 feature films — a number that only shows signs of going up. Often, everyone’s movie dad portrays fundamentally decent, noble characters, but Hanks actually has a very diverse filmography.
While comedies like Big and Turner & Hooch are how he got his start, Hanks was starring in big-name dramas and taking home Oscars for his work by the early ’90s. Incredibly versatile, he’s been featured in everything from action movies and biopics to rom-coms and thrillers. Of course, with such a long career, Hanks has also had some fumbles.
Here, we’re breaking down the actor’s best — and worst — film roles of all time. We’ll start off with 15 of Hanks’ worst roles (30–16), and then look at 15 of his best (15–1). Will your favorite Tom Hanks movies end up ranking near the top?
Tom Hanks: 15 Worst Roles
30. sherman mccoy in the bonfire of the vanities (1987).
Directed by Brian De Palma (the 1976 Carrie ), The Bonfire of the Vanities was adapted from a Tom Wolfe novel of the same name. The premise? Wall Street exec Sherman McCoy (Tom Hanks) makes a wrong turn while driving home with his girlfriend, Maria (Melanie Griffith), and ends up in the Bronx. Long story short, Maria ends up killing a Black boy with the car, but convinces Sherman to keep the accidental murder quiet.
But struggling reporter Peter Fallow (Bruce Willis) realizes the hit-and-run murder is a kind of rallying point for the Black community and New Yorkers at large, so he’s determined to figure out who committed the crime. This is supposed to be a satirical film, but it’s actually dull and heavy-handed. Not to mention, horribly miscast, which is why it’s one of Hanks’ worst roles — and also why the Rotten Tomatoes consensus notes that we should “Add [ Bonfire ] to the pyre of Hollywood’s ambitious failures.”
29. Robert Langdon in Inferno (2016)
This action-meets-mystery-meets thriller is an adaptation of the Dan Brown novel of the same name — and decidedly worse than the other Robert Langdon stories. If that’s even possible. If Angels & Demons , the second film in this series, felt like a cash grab… Well, there’s not much else to say here. Even a solid supporting cast, rounded out by Felicity Jones and Omar Sy ( Lupin ), can’t salvage this dull mess.
28. Earmon Bailey in The Circle (2017)
The Circle was a pretty universally panned film. In fact, it’s one of Hank’s lowest-rated movies on sites like Rotten Tomatoes. Despite starring alongside the likes of Patton Oswald, John Boyega and Emma Watson, Tom Hanks just couldn’t pull off the ominous tech CEO thing.
Instead of being a compelling look at the dark side of social media and ethics in tech, The Circle was a mess. Between this, the Dan Brown-based films and The Bonfire of the Vanities , it seems adaptations of bestselling books aren’t Hanks’ friend.
27. Multiple Roles in The Polar Express (2004)
Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis reunited yet again for The Polar Express , hoping to give us something of Cast Away-level success. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out. Instead, we got this incredibly unsettling animation.
Based on the beloved Christmastime children’s book of the same name, Polar Express sees Hanks voicing multiple roles including the Hero Boy, the Hero Boy’s father, Conductor, Santa Claus and even a Scrooge puppet. The simple storyline of the book is stretched into a confusing and unnecessary feature-film length one. That said, it’s not only bloated and boring, but Hanks’ voice acting is stiffer than the subpar animation.
26. Francoise Perrin in The Man With One Red Shoe (1985)
This comedy film managed to pull in a measly $9 million at the box offices, summarizing all there is to say about it. It is one of Hanks’s lowest-grossing films of all time. The Man With One Red Shoe is actually an American remake of the 1972 French film, Le grand blond avec une chaussure noire . Let’s just say the remake is a failed attempt, with The Washington Post calling it “a nearly unwatchable espionage comedy.”
25. Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code (2006)
The Da Vinci Code was a bestseller that filled beaches and airports for a time. As is the case with any book that’s spawned a craze, it was adapted to the screen. We were skeptical of the Tom Hanks casting choice when it was announced, but it’s hard to believe anyone could deliver the tongue-twisting exposition and clunky dialogue found in this one.
Even if the plot points were believable in the book, it’s clear that the story doesn’t work on screen. In the end, it’s absurd. Almost as absurd as Hanks’ Robert Langdon hair.
24. Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis (2022)
While Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s latest film will garner him awards attention come the end of 2022, Tom Hanks’s performance veers into Razzie Awards territory . To be honest, a lot of Hanks’ worst roles boil down to the formidable actor doing the best he can with a lackluster script, but Elvis is one of the few exceptions.
Hanks is miscast here; he tries to go dark as the creepy con man, Tom Parker, but doesn’t succeed. Maybe it’s because all the latex and prosthetics in the world can’t disguise Hanks’ inherent likability. But the off-the-rails accent Hanks attempts might really solidify Elvis as the almost-lowest point of his career.
23. Larry Crowne in Larry Crowne (2011)
Larry Crowne is about a middle-aged man losing his job during a faltering economic time and, as a result, facing a sudden mid-life crisis. The premise has potential: Larry Crowne is about class, second chances, love, and marriage, after all. But it fails to delve deep into any one of these things. In fact, it blatantly avoids difficult discussions.
Not only is Hanks’ performance underwhelming, but he also shoulders much of the blame for the film’s issues. Alongside Nia Vardalos ( My Big Fat Greek Wedding ), Hanks co-wrote the script — and he also served as director.
It’s a shame that this movie fails to justify its existence, especially with such a great cast that, in addition to Hanks and Vardalos, includes Julia Roberts, Pam Grier, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rami Malek, Taraji P. Henson, Bryan Cranston, Wilmer Valderrama, Cedric the Entertainer, George Takei, Rita Wilson, Randall Park and Sarah Levy.
22. Robert Langdon in Angels & Demons (2009)
If you first encounter Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons , you’d think he’s a terrible actor. Also, if you’ve watched him in the likes of Saving Private Ryan or Apollo 13 — generally “higher brow” fare — you’d perhaps assume mystery-thrillers aren’t his genre. Whether it’s a case of one of those bad days in office or not, Angels & Demons , based on the Dan Brown book of the same name, is a dud.
The most compelling performance on hand here is Ewan McGregor’s. Hanks, on the other hand, looks like he’s going through the motions, all for a paycheck. His character spends a lot of time dumping information on us — and all of that dull info is suffocating. Still, this is the best of the Dan Brown adaptations, which also includes The Da Vinci Code and Inferno .
21. Victor Navorski in The Terminal (2004)
This comedy-drama film tells the story of an Eastern European tourist who ends up stuck in a terminal at JFK International Airport in New York after he’s denied entry into the U.S. He’s also unable to return to his native country, so he makes the airport his home.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, The Terminal is a big miss. It kind of romanticizes this nightmare scenario, and, much like Forrest Gump , it feels like the main character’s whiteness helps him skate by in a situation that would be downright dangerous and not-at-all funny for Black and Brown immigrants.
The aim? Provide a commentary on how inhumane bureaucracy is, especially in the U.S. The result? More of a farce — and not quite the deft comedy it was supposed to be — and thanks in large part to Hanks’ atrocious accent and over-reliance on slapstick comedy.
20. Thomas Schell in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2012)
Despite starring the likes of Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Viola Davis and several other high-caliber actors, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close did not perform as expected. Again based on a book, the film chronicles the journey of Oskar (Thomas Horn), a boy who lost his father (Hanks) during 9/11 and is convinced his dad hid a message for him somewhere across the five boroughs.
While the story has some potential, it’s handled in such a pretentious and somewhat exploitative way here, even if it wasn’t meant to be the latter. Overly sentimental and endlessly boring might’ve been a better title for this Oscar bait. The Washington Post perhaps sums up Hanks’ numbing performance best, calling it “extremely labored and incredibly crass”.
19. Gold Higginson Dorr, Ph.D. in The Ladykillers (2004)
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, this black comedy crime thriller film is a remake (of sorts) of the 1955 British comedy of the same name. Here, a group of criminals is forced to silence a churchgoing old woman after she learns about their plans to rob a casino. Tom Hanks plays the pretentious mastermind behind the heist, but it’s a cartoonish portrayal at best.
Part of that is down to the direction — a rare misstep for the Coen brothers. And while some critics enjoyed the comedic hyperbole of it all, Roger Ebert called the performances “over-the-top in a way rarely seen outside Looney Tunes”, and we have to agree.
18. Walter Fielding, Jr. in The Money Pit (1986)
Tom Hanks delivers a pretty broad performance in this comedy about a couple who buy a home for dirt-cheap — only to find out that it’s falling apart, much like their relationship. Of course, it’s hard to blame him for that broad approach.
Roger Ebert called the movie “one monotonous sight gag after another” — and he isn’t wrong. In fact, Hanks’ performance is probably what The Money Pit was betting on. Unfortunately, it can’t salvage this one.
17. Multiple Roles in Cloud Atlas (2012)
Cloud Atlas , an adaptation of David Mitchell’s acclaimed epic novel, explores how the lives and actions of individuals impact one another in the present, past and future. One act of kindness, for example, might have ripples across generations, so much so that it becomes the spark for revolution.
Or that’s the thesis behind this sci-fi meditation on the nature of existence, anyway. Since it covers over 500 years and centers on themes of reincarnation, the cast, including Tom Hanks, takes on several roles each in various eras. Despite being directed by the Wachowskis ( The Matrix ), the film certainly divided critics, appearing on both “Best of” and “Worst of” the year lists. Cloud Atlas is certainly ambitious, and that required big swings from the cast.
“[There’s’] far too many actors in this town to have to bother paying Tom Hanks $1 million and putting him in 900 scenes as different ethnicities and races,” Brandy Howard said in a review for Autostraddle , summing up one of the film’s biggest misses.
16. Joe in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
Probably our least favorite Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan team-up, Joe Versus the Volcano has its moments. Mostly, it was ahead of its time, bringing together existential dark comedy and screwball comedy into something that could’ve been great, but didn’t quite hit. Joe (Hanks) only has six months to live, so when an eccentric millionaire (Lloyd Bridges) suggests Joe throw himself into an active volcano.
You know, die with some dignity. What follows this wild “jumping-off point” is an existential meditation that doesn’t quite live up. Still, while this absurdist film isn’t our favorite, it’s still a decent watch.
Tom Hanks: 15 Best Roles
15. allen bauer in splash (1984).
Light, charming and funny, Ron Howard’s Splash is definitely an often-overlooked classic. In the film, Madison, a beautiful mermaid, has a chance encounter with a young boy, Allen Bauer, off the coast of Cape Cod. Twenty years after the incident, a depressed Allen (Tom Hanks) visits the Cape again.
While there, he runs into Dr. Walter Kornbluth (Eugene Levy), an eccentric scientist. More importantly, Madison (Daryl Hannah) saves Allen from drowning and ends up in possession of his wallet. With Allen’s info in hand, she heads to New York City — unfortunately, Dr. Kornbluth spots Madison in mermaid form, which leads to complications. Not to mention, Madison can only spend a few days with Allen on land, or else she can’t return home.
Rambunctious and silly, but also heartwarming, this rom-com holds up thanks to an Oscar-nominated script and the chemistry between its likable leads.
14. Richard Philips in Captain Phillips (2013)
Put your “I’m the captain now!” memes aside. There’s no denying that the performances from both Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdirahman are magnetic. Captain Phillips adapts a real-life event — the hijacking of the merchant marine vessel Maersk Alabama in 2009 by Somali pirates — and, in doing so, exceeded our expectations.
It’s the template for a good biopic, and it’s incredibly tense and high-stakes the whole way through, making it a great showcase for Hanks as well as a solid watch on its own merits.
13. Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Playing someone as saturated into pop culture as Walt Disney seems like a risky move, but Tom Hanks pulled it off. While Disney is more of a peripheral character here — the film actually centers around P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the author of Mary Poppins — a bad impersonation would’ve wrecked the whole film.
If you’re looking for a tear-jerker, tune in to watch Disney slowly persuade Travers to sign over the film rights to her book so that it can get made into the Julie Andrews-starring movie we all know and love.
12. James B. Donovan in Bridge of Spies (2015)
Set during the Cold War, Bridge of Spies follows American lawyer James Donovan, who’s called upon to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, who’s on trial for his life. There’s a lot to admire about Tom Hanks in this historical drama. Mostly, it feels like a return to form after some less-than-satisfying roles. (Looking at you, Robert Langdon.)
11. Carl Hanratty in Catch Me if You Can (2002)
This biographical crime comedy-drama has it all — but mostly it has Tom Hanks going head-to-head with another beloved actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Steven Spielberg’s quintessential cat-and-mouse game is based on the true story of reformed con man Frank Abagnale Jr. (DiCaprio).
Hanks, meanwhile, plays FBI agent Carl Hanratty, a man who’s always on Abagnale’s tail, albeit several steps behind. It’s a genuinely funny — and surprisingly poignant — film that’s well worth watching, despite the long runtime.
10. Detective Scott Turner in Turner & Hooch (1989)
Movies with dogs at their center rarely disappoint — just check out our roundup of best movie dogs ever and you’ll be thoroughly convinced. You’re sure to laugh at the dog’s antics, at the way the human involved has to stumble through these escapades. And, at some point, a good dog movie will play tug with your heartstrings. Turner & Hooch nails this formula.
Here, Tom Hanks plays a cop who reluctantly agrees to watch Hooch, a gigantic French mastiff. Together, the duo try to solve the murder of Hooch’s former owner — and grow a little closer in the process. Let’s just say that this is a classic Hanks film for a reason.
9. Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)
A more recent entry in Hanks’ catalog, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood sees him stepping into the well-tied shoes — and infamous red sweater — of Fred Rogers, the host of children’s’ show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood . It’s challenging to bring such a well-known, beloved figure to life, but Tom Hanks really succeeded here.
In the film, Matthew Rhys ( The Americans ) plays a cynical journalist tasked with profiling the sweet TV host. While the skeptic-turned-believer formula is tried-and-true, it works well here, thanks in large part to Hanks’ Oscar-nominated performance.
8. Joe Fox in You’ve Got Mail (1998)
We could’ve gone with Sleepless in Seattle (1993), but there’s something about You’ve Got Mail — the other rom-com to see Tom Hanks star opposite ‘90s star Meg Ryan. Directed and co-written by the acclaimed Nora Ephron, the film is made possible thanks to late-90s tech, like AOL chat rooms, email and instant messaging.
Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) runs an indie bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, which she inherited from her mom. Meanwhile, Joe Fox (Hanks) is a member of the family that owns Fox Books, an Amazon-esque chain of bookstores. While the two pass each other on the Upper West Side of Manhattan pretty frequently, they first meet in a chat room. There, Kathleen lays down the rules: they can’t talk specifics or share personal information.
Of course, this leads the two to fall in love online, all while being pitted against each other IRL. Not gonna lie, it’s fun to watch Hanks play this smarmy businessman who’s dead-set on running Kathleen out of business.
7. Captain John H. Miller in Saving Private Ryan (1998)
This epic war movie from Steven Spielberg sees Tom Hanks stepping out of his comfort zone to play Captain John H. Miller, a soldier whose squad is tasked with rescuing the titular Private Ryan (Matt Damon). Damon’s character is the last of four brothers who’s still alive — the others all died in combat — so the military orders Ryan, who’s missing, to be found and evacuated. The higher-ups don’t want the Ryan family to lose all of their children.
One of the earliest scenes in the film depicts the U.S. Army landing at Omaha Beach as part of the Normandy Invasion. There, Hanks’ Captain Miller commands his men, the picture of a perfectly dedicated soldier and brave leader. Although not normally one for action movies, Hanks proves his chops in this Oscar-nominated role.
6. Jim Lovell in Apollo 13 (1995)
As you’ll see throughout this list, Tom Hanks has a knack for playing not just fictional characters, but those based on real people, too. Ron Howard’s space-set film dramatizes the aborted Apollo 13 lunar mission from 1970.
The fifth crewed mission to the Moon, Apollo 13 was meant to be the third to touch down on the Moon’s surface, but an on-board explosion causes the spacecraft to lose a good chunk of its oxygen supply and power. The mission, then, becomes about getting the three-person crew home safely.
Surprisingly tense, this Oscars Best Picture nominee is well worth your time in general, though Hanks’ performance as Jim Lovell, one of the astronauts who wrote the book upon which the screenplay is based, is stellar, too.
5. Chuck Noland in Cast Away (2000)
Quite a few of the Tom Hanks movies from this time period could nab the fifth spot on our list, but we’re going with Cast Away , a survival drama that, by nature, forces Hanks to carry the movie. When Chuck Noland’s plane crash lands in the Pacific Ocean near a deserted island, he endures a lot of physical and psychological trauma.
Somehow, he’s able to endure, all on his own. Well, and thanks to the help of a volleyball named Wilson. Hanks really makes you feel Chuck’s struggle; when he finally gets a campfire going, for example, you can’t help but feel that triumph, too. The actor nabbed a Golden Globe for this one as well as an Oscar nomination.
4. Josh Baskin in Big (1988)
Wondering when Tom Hanks became a bona fide movie star? For our money, it happened in 1988 thanks to Big , a comedy with a fantasy premise. In the film, a kid named Josh is turned into an adult overnight — thanks to the help of a fortune-telling machine — and that adult Josh is played by Tom Hanks.
It’s your classic fish-out-of-water premise as Josh needs to suddenly navigate being a teen trapped in an adult body, but alongside that newfound weight of responsibility there’s also a lot of laughs to be had. Big is sort of the original 13 Going on 30 (2004) and, although it’s a bit cliché, Hanks’ signature combination of heart and humor make it one of his best films.
3. Andrew Beckett in Philadelphia (1993)
Even in the early ‘90s, the HIV/AIDS crisis wasn’t often addressed — and, when it was, it wasn’t always done with compassion. However, Philadelphia helped change that. Here, Tom Hanks delivers an unforgettable performance as Andrew Beckett, a gay attorney who deals with the homophobia and stigma surrounding AIDS.
When Andy’s employer discovers he’s gay, it leads to a wrongful termination, so th ex-attorney brings a lawsuit against his former firm with the help of lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington). The film is notable for being the first mainstream Hollywood film to address homophobia and the HIV/AIDS crisis, all while portraying gay and queer people in a compassionate and good light.
Hanks’ performance earned him an Oscar. Not to mention, very few straight people would’ve taken the role of a gay character at the time — just look at what happened to Laura Dern , who played a gay character on Ellen in the ‘90s — for fear of being blacklisted.
2. Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own (1992)
Penny Marshall’s downright iconic film portrays the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL), which was created during World War II since the majority of men who played major league baseball were drafted. With an all-star cast that includes Geena Davis , Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna, A League of Their Own is one of the best baseball movies — and movies, period — of all time.
In the film, Tom Hanks plays Jimmy Dugan, a once-great ballplayer who takes a job managing one of the AAGPBL teams, the Rockford Peaches, in order to regain some respect in the sport. Watching Hanks play this washed-up, curmudgeonly and quick-to-anger character is incredible. It’s easy to adore the actor, while laughing at just how ridiculous Jimmy can be, from his infamous urinal scene to his iconic, “ There’s no crying in baseball !” line.
1. Sheriff Woody in Toy Story (1995)
At the time, Toy Story was a revolutionary movie. Not only did it feature groundbreaking computer animation that, seemingly overnight, put multi-Oscar-winning studio Pixar on the map , but it also featured an incredible cast of talented voice actors. Although we don’t see Tom Hanks’ face here, his performance as Woody is probably his most memorable and enduring role.
As you probably know, in the first film, Woody is Andy’s favorite toy. He’s also the leader of all the other toys — Rex, Slinky, Bo Peep, Ham, Mr. Potato Head and so on — until, for his birthday, Andy receives a new toy: Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen), a space ranger with all the bells and whistles. At first, Woody feels threatened by Buzz; he’s incredibly cool, and both Andy and Woody’s fellow toys are impressed by Buzz and his apparent worldliness.
In that first movie, Hanks captures everything from Woody’s anguish and scheming to his more comedic and heartfelt moments. In fact, Tom Hanks is a huge part of what made Toy Story such a success. In four feature films — the others being Toy Story 2 (1999), Toy Story 3 (2010) and Toy Story 4 (2019) — and multiple animated shorts, Hanks brings Woody to life. We don’t even need to tug Woody’s pull-string to know that we’re his favorite deputy, too.
Tom Hanks: An Honorable Mention
Forrest gump in forrest gump (1994).
While we can’t leave this one off the list entirely, it’s difficult to categorize. Forrest Gump (1994) hasn’t exactly aged well. And, despite its six Oscar wins, including Hanks’ Best Actor win as well as the Best Picture award, it’s not exactly a good movie.
At best, it’s become the kind of “cozy”, well-worn film that will inevitably always be playing on some channel. At worst, it’s a kind of sanitized look at American history. Still, it’s difficult to separate Tom Hanks from this career-defining role. Here, he plays the wide-eyed Forrest, a naïve yet sensitive man who accidentally influences several major 20th-century events.
Everyone around him seems to suffer — from his childhood love interest, Jenny (Robin Wright), who dies of complications from HIV/AIDS after enduring abuse and living a sex-positive, anti-war life, to Benjamin Buford Blue a.k.a. “Bubba” (Mykelti Williamson), one of the film’s few Black characters, who dies in the Vietnam War. (The other prominent Black character is someone Forrest meets on a bench, and who is forced to listen to this man tell her about his white supremacist relative…) But, somehow, Forrest makes it through everything unscathed.
It’s an endlessly cheesy and, often, offensive movie that idolizes being apolitical. A punchline in both the world of memes and pop culture. Without a doubt, Forrest Gump is one of Hanks’ most polarizing films. Still, in a roundup of his onscreen performances, there’s no getting around it; Hanks does pretty memorably bring the character to life — even if Forrest is just a white man who’s constantly failing upward.
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TAGGED AS: godzilla , movies
(Photo by Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection)
All Godzilla Movies Ranked
The original Godzilla movie premiered 69 years ago today!
Born from nuclear brimstone, the Godzilla series since 1955 has, by turns, served as a manifestation of ecological fears and unchecked human aggression, a satire on politics and government bureaucracy, and a vehicle for giant monsters yelling each other to death.
In this countdown of the best Godzilla movies ranked by Tomatometer alongside the worst, we have the aformentioned 1955 original, and the kaiju-popularizing American version ( Godzilla: King of the Monsters! ) with Raymond Burr. Naturally, Japan became Godzilla’s deathmatch ring for decades, with title bouts featuring Ghidorah , Space Godzilla , Ebirah , Mechagodzilla , and more terrors of the deep, earth, space and beyond.
Since 2014 Godzilla fans have been eating well, with the American adaptation creating the MonsterVerse (leading into King of the Monsters , Godzilla vs. Kong , and the upcoming Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire ), along with the more classically-trained Shin Godzilla and Godzilla Minus One, which are drawing some of the strongest reviews of the nearly 70-year-old franchise. Now, , we’re ranking all Godzilla movies, with Certified Fresh films first. Let them fight! — Alex Vo
Godzilla (1954) 93%
Shin Godzilla (2016) 86%
Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) 76%
Godzilla (2014) 76%
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) 100%
Godzilla Minus One (2023) 98%
Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964) 92%
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) 86%
Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) 83%
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) 83%
Destroy All Monsters! (1968) 80%
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) 80%
Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) 78%
Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1965) 77%
Godzilla: monster planet (2017) 71%.
Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) 71%
Godzilla on monster island (1972) 67%.
Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! (2001) 65%
Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971) 64%
Godzilla Raids Again (1959) 64%
Son of Godzilla (1967) 63%
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000) 60%
Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018) 60%
Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018) 60%
Godzilla 2000 (2000) 57%
Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994) 57%
Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) 57%
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) 56%
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963) 52%
Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) 50%
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965) 50%
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) 43%
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) 42%
Godzilla vs. Megalon (1976) 38%
Godzilla's Revenge (1969) 29%
Godzilla 1985 (1984) 27%
Godzilla (1998) 20%
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
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Every Godzilla Movie, Ranked From Worst to Best
From the chilling, minimalist 1954 original to the modern Hollywood reboot series, this is Collider's ranking of every Godzilla movie in history.
Godzilla rightfully holds the title of "King of the Monsters," being the title character of one of the longest-running series in cinema history . The character first appeared almost 70 years ago, and has appeared in a total of 36 feature films ever since, on top of appearances in TV shows, video games, comic books, and also finding himself parodied/referenced in other media.
Movie monsters don't get more iconic or prolific, with one of the franchise's strengths being that its various films have different tones and belong to different genres, and Godzilla himself is sometimes depicted as villainous, heroic, or somewhere in between. The fact there have been Japanese and American takes on the character also adds to Godzilla 's overall variety and longevity as a series. What follows is a ranking of all the Godzilla movies from worst to best , excluding TV shows (like 2021's Singular Point ) and Americanized re-edits (like 1956's English-language recut of the original film).
37 'Godzilla' (1998)
Directed by roland emmerich.
1998's Godzilla is a miserable slog of a film. It was the first American-produced take on Godzilla , and easily stands as the worst , with a large budget and all the resources Hollywood can offer doing nothing to make this fun, interesting, memorable, or even so-bad-it's-good. It's easily one of the worst movies of 1998 , and is notorious among fans of the beloved giant radioactive lizard for not representing what makes this series of films good, and largely missing the point again and again throughout its runtime.
Instead of being so-bad-it's-good, it's just so bad. Anyone who sees this first may well be turned off Godzilla for good, and really, the only good that came out of this movie is the fact that it gets made fun of in a couple of Japanese Godzilla movies released in its wake (more on those later).
Watch on Hulu
36 'Godzilla: The Planet Eater' (2018)
Directed by kobun shizuno and hiroyuki seshita.
Between 2017 and 2018, there was a trilogy of Godzilla movies that had genuine potential, but never really lived up to it. These stood out for being entirely animated and having a story set 20,000 years into the future, following humanity trying to reclaim, Earth which has been taken over by Godzilla.
Godzilla: The Planet Eater is the third in the trilogy and serves as a low point after a so-so first movie and a disappointing second. The non-monster scenes are dull and repetitive, the animation has become less appealing, and even a "fight" between Godzilla and King Ghidorah (with a new look) proves surprisingly boring. Avoid at all costs, as Godzilla: The Planet Eater is about as far from a great anime movie as an animated Japanese movie could ever be.
Watch on Netflix
35 'All Monsters Attack' (1969)
Directed by ishirō honda.
Of the classic Japanese Godzilla movies released between 1954 and 1975 ( comprising the "Showa Era" of Godzilla ), 1969's All Monsters Attack is easy to single out as a low point. The premise itself, while kid-focused, isn't awful, with it centering on a bullied child who bonds with Godzilla's son, Minilla, who's also being bullied.
However, the fact these interactions appear in dream sequences lowers much of the emotion that otherwise might be there. Furthermore, the vast majority of the monster scenes here are made up of archival footage from previous movies, making All Monsters Attack feel cheap, rushed, and a bit like a cash grab . Clip show episodes in TV series are often regarded as lowlights of any show they appear in, with very few exceptions, and All Monsters Attack disappoints in similar ways.
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34 'Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle' (2018)
The second movie in the aforementioned Godzilla anime trilogy is admittedly better than the third... just. It's still not good; more so just a bit less boring, with this one featuring the continued war between humanity and Godzilla over Earth, and teasing a new take on famed Godzilla foe Mechagodzilla.
Yet it's not really Mechagodzilla. Here, the film introduces the ludicrous idea of "Mechagodzilla City," a huge mass of robotics and buildings that could be used to combat Godzilla. It sounds like it could be really goofy in a kind of fun way, but the movie doesn't have much fun with it, resulting in a strangely lifeless and tiring watch. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle isn't a good sci-fi movie and has little spectacle or impressive elements to offer, and should be avoided.
Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle
33 'son of godzilla' (1967), directed by jun fukuda.
Son of Godzilla marks a point within the overall Godzilla series ranking where the movies become, at worst, bearable. That's not to say that Son of Godzilla is great or even merely underrated; more just that it signifies being officially past the bad movies in the series, whereby an overall ranking can move on to bigger and better things.
It's the first appearance of Minilla, Godzilla's adopted son, who's one of the more divisive monsters in the series. The film's at its best when it focuses on the awkward bonding between Godzilla and this small, somewhat grotesque-looking monster, though viewers have to be aware going in that it is one of the series' goofiest and most child-friendly entries - in that way, Son of Godzilla feels more reminiscent of early-era Gamera movies than some of the more mature Godzilla films of the 1960s.
32 'Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters' (2017)
Before films #2 and #3 crushed any hope of the Godzilla anime trilogy being good, its first film, Planet of the Monsters , at least showed glimmers of promise. It's at its best when it recounts what led to Godzilla taking over the planet in the prologue, with it then doing a serviceable job at introducing the conflict that (apparently) plays out across the rest of the trilogy, and as such, it has some things to offer in terms of offering interesting science fiction ideas and some solid action setpieces.
Planet of the Monsters isn't awful, but much of its enjoyment comes from the hope that it's building up things that will pay off. They never paid off, though, so it's ultimately not worth watching this mostly competent - if unremarkable - animated movie for the risk that it might make you waste time with the rest of the trilogy.
31 'Invasion of Astro-Monster' (1965)
During the Showa Era of Godzilla films, there was a tendency to capitalize on a successful movie with a follow-up right away. Usually, this involved bringing back certain characters the year after they were first seen, and though this could be fun, it rarely led to these sequels (of sorts) surpassing what came before, or feeling fresh. Given it was directed by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Ishirō Honda , who made numerous Godzilla movies, it does deliver a certain amount of entertainment value.
So is the case with Invasion of Astro-Monster , a movie that hardcore fans of Godzilla will still enjoy, but outsiders may not find particularly enthralling . It brings back King Ghidorah just one year after his introduction, to slightly diminishing returns, but the film is still fun in places (most notably when Godzilla dances).
30 'Godzilla 2000: Millennium' (1999)
Directed by takao okawara.
Look, Godzilla 2000: Millennium isn't amazing, but compared to the miserable 1998 version of Godzilla that came out the year before, it felt like The Godfather (or Godzillafather ?) Its title is also fitting, seeing as it ushered in the wild and unpredictable Millennium Era of Godzilla , which lasted from 1999 until 2004.
Anything would have looked good in comparison to the most recent theatrical Godzilla film, and so Godzilla 2000 plays things safe, having the title character exist as a force of nature and pitting him against a new monster called Orga in the final act. Godzilla 2000 is nothing earth-shattering, but as a giant monster movie, it gets the job done. Yes, it can be disappointing and some may find it to be close to a series nadir, but it benefits from looking much better compared to the Godzilla film from the previous year.
29 'Godzilla Raids Again' (1955)
Directed by motoyoshi oda.
Coming out just one year after the original Godzilla , Godzilla Raids Again is notable for two main reasons. The first is that it's the only Godzilla film other than the original to be shot in black and white, and the second is that it's the first time Godzilla is pitted against another giant monster - here, it's series regular Anguirus.
For those reasons, it's an interesting and sometimes engaging sequel, but it does feel a little rushed and uninspired. It paved the way for future movies to be about more than just humanity vs. Godzilla, but also fell very short of measuring up to the first film. Definitely not bad, and maybe a little over-hated, but nothing too special, either. It's also interesting because it's one of the original Japanese Godzilla movies that got an English-language/American-produced re-edit, 1959's Gigantis, the Fire Monster .
28 'Godzilla: King of the Monsters' (2019)
Directed by michael dougherty.
It's understandable why Godzilla: King of the Monsters has its supporters, and is generally seen by Godzilla fanatics as one of the better American takes on the character. It was the English-language debut for many of the series' most iconic monsters, after all, including King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan.
The effects are top-notch, and the movie does a great job of emphasizing the scale of the gigantic beasts, with their fight sequences generally being great. Unfortunately, at 132 minutes long, there's also a good deal of stuff here that isn't very good, with the human storyline/characters ultimately lacking. The best Godzilla films do tend to balance the human drama with the monster action better , and it's that aspect of King of the Monsters that lets it down a little... though it's still a solid chapter in the ongoing MonsterVerse saga .
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
27 'godzilla vs. gigan' (1972).
Godzilla vs. Gigan is probably something of an acquired taste, and came out at a time when you could see the budgets for the Showa Era Godzilla films decreasing a little. It introduces the underrated Gigan as a foe for Godzilla to battle, with Anguirus and King Ghidorah also being featured in the film.
The best part of Godzilla vs. Gigan is the bond between Godzilla and Anguirus, exemplified by the way they can inexplicably talk to each other in this movie (using speech bubbles!). Godzilla vs. Gigan is very silly, but very charming , and is definitely the most memorable part of an otherwise solid - but not amazing - kaiju movie. There were plenty of Godzilla movies from the Showa Era that aren't decade-defining masterpieces by any means , but still prove enjoyable for fans, with Godzilla vs. Gigan being one of them.
26 'Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla' (1994)
Directed by kensho yamashita.
Between the aforementioned Showa and Millennium Eras of the Godzilla series stood the Heisei Era ; arguably its most consistent and cohesive grouping of films. It comprised seven entries released between 1984 and 1995, and featured a continuous story that played out with the same iteration of Godzilla and several recurring human characters.
The era's nadir is Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla , the penultimate film, which quite lazily introduces a being that's very similar to Godzilla with it being - shock horror - from space. If you can get on board with a foe called "SpaceGodzilla," there is entertainment to be found, but to be a little more objective, the creation of "SpaceGodzilla" was probably a sign the Heisei Era needed to end (and thankfully it concluded with a bang, but more on that further down the line).
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25 'Godzilla vs. Mothra' (1992)
Mothra has always been one of the most popular monsters in the Godzilla series. She appeared numerous times throughout the Showa Era, with 1992's Godzilla vs. Mothra serving as her Heisei Era debut. It's one of many movies featuring Mothra, with the character even appearing in kaiju movies that didn't have Godzilla in them .
It feels like it's trying to recapture the spirit of some of those older Godzilla movies, and besides having some slicker special effects, it doesn't do a great deal more with Mothra than what fans had seen before. That being said, it was a welcome return for the monster - who hadn't been featured in a Godzilla film since 1968 - even if the movie itself was merely pretty good, rather than pretty great.
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24 'Godzilla vs. Megaguirus' (2000)
Directed by masaaki tezuka.
You heard it here first: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is one of the most unfairly disliked Godzilla movies in existence. The consensus seems to be that this is the weakest Godzilla movie of the 21st century so far, and... well, look, it's not up there with the best by any means, but it offers more entertainment value than most give it credit for, and can't quite be considered one of the very worst movies of the early 2000s by any means.
It resets things after Godzilla 2000 , taking place in a new continuity that ignores all Godzilla films except the 1954 original (a staple of the Millennium Era). Godzilla fights a bunch of bugs, and then at the end, he fights a big bug named Megaguirus, who's an underrated Godzilla monster. Also, Godzilla body slams Megaguirus. What's not to like? (Well, besides the fairly bad CGI effects used throughout the film).
23 'King Kong vs. Godzilla' (1962)
The original smackdown between King Kong and Godzilla was surprisingly only the third movie Godzilla ever appeared in. In 1962, Kong was more likely to be considered the king of the monsters, given his first movie came out almost 30 years earlier (though King Kong vs. Godzilla was also his third big-screen appearance).
This film was directed by Ishirō Honda, who was also behind the 1954 original and several other sequels released during the Showa Era. While King Kong vs. Godzilla isn't his finest hour, and the overall film is very uneven, it's also got some seriously memorable highlights , a gleefully ridiculous plot, and reliably fun monster action. It's a flawed movie, and arguably one that some would consider to be so-bad-it's-good in nature, but it's a great deal of fun regardless of how you want to categorize it.
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22 'Godzilla vs. Megalon' (1973)
Some might be tempted to call Godzilla vs. Megalon a guilty pleasure, but why feel guilty about enjoying such a glorious film? This stands as perhaps the goofiest of all the Showa Era movies , and given the Showa Era contains its fair share of wacky, kid-friendly Godzilla films, that statement's really saying something.
Godzilla goes up against Megalon and the aforementioned Gigan, but thankfully, he's also assisted by Jet Jaguar, a shape-shifting, super-powered humanoid robot. The human storyline is silly and a lot of fun, and the monster fights are so ridiculous it's impossible to resist grinning while watching them (Godzilla's famed flying kick is the stuff of legends for a reason). Whether or not it's supposed to be funny, it's pretty easy to find humor in Godzilla vs. Megalon .
21 'Ebirah, Horror of the Deep' (1966)
Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is a slept-on Godzilla film and, befitting its title, might well qualify as a Godzilla deep cut. Its titular foe isn't one of the series' best-known monsters by any means, and it's a Showa Era movie that tends to get buried by some of the more memorable titles released on either side of it.
The plot involves a giant lobster that's being controlled by a terrorist group, and a small group of people teaming with Godzilla and Mothra to take them down. It's a ridiculous but fun premise, and intentionally embraces its goofy elements without worrying too much about the fans who prefer their Godzilla movies solemn and thought-provoking. Sure, Ebirah isn't one of the best Godzilla foes , but it's a unique one that appears within a strange Godzilla movie with a singular vibe, making Ebirah, Horror of the Deep easy to recommend for fans of the series.
20 'Terror of Mechagodzilla' (1975)
The hasty Godzilla sequel phenomenon rears its ugly head once more, though thankfully, calling Terror of Mechagodzilla "ugly" or creatively bankrupt would be unfair. Its worst crime is not being as good as the 1974 film that introduced Mechagodzilla, with his return here not being an unwelcome one, but still feeling a little rushed.
It ended up being the final movie of the Showa Era, and while it definitely could've gone out with a worse film, it didn't feel like a grand finale, regrettably (this is something both the Heisei and Millennium Eras thankfully achieved). Terror of Mechagodzilla delivers some fun, no-nonsense action, and is an overall alright sequel to the superior 1974 Mechagodzilla film. The series took a break of nearly a decade after the release of Terror of Mechagodzilla , helping to stop fatigue setting in for this beloved franchise.
19 'Mothra vs. Godzilla' (1964)
Though Mothra vs. Godzilla is the first time the two titular monsters meet, it interestingly wasn't the first appearance of Mothra. She'd had her own movie independent of the Godzilla series in 1961, and when she proved popular, those at Toho - the Japanese company that owns Godzilla - saw the potential in having her crossover with Godzilla. As such, Mothra vs. Godzilla is one key step in making the overall Godzilla series a continually strange and wonderful one , building the world later sequels would take place in.
Mothra vs. Godzilla marks the point where the films start getting very good , and even recommendable to people who don't usually like kaiju movies. Mothra vs. Godzilla is a rock-solid early Godzilla film, and though Mothra's abilities don't lend themselves as well to fight scenes as other Godzilla foes, it's still fun to see the two square off for the first time.
18 'Godzilla vs. Hedorah' (1971)
Directed by yoshimitsu banno.
There's no easy way to say it: Godzilla vs. Hedorah is weird, and might well be the most experimental Godzilla film. There are animated sequences, some really dark moments, different-sounding music to much of the rest of the series, and a particularly odd villain who's made up of pollution and environmental waste.
The unusual elements here make Godzilla vs. Hedorah one of the most interesting films in the series , and admittedly one that might not be for everyone. Still, going against the formula to some extent and making it (mostly) work should be celebrated, and for the majority of its runtime, Godzilla vs. Hedorah is very engaging. It takes some serious risks by Godzilla movie standards, and for its odd qualities and distinctly dark/eerie atmosphere, it's quite the compelling watch overall.
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Every Godzilla Movie of the Past 40 Years, Ranked
The first 15 Godzilla movies, known as the Showa Era (and collected in a swanky Criterion Collection set a few years back), were a natural, if increasingly goofy, evolution of the King of the Monsters. What began as a haunting metaphor for the horrors of the atomic bomb became, thanks to various creative whims and desires of the moviegoing public, a much more kiddie-oriented series. This first stage of one of the longest-running and most prolific franchises in all of cinema came to an end in 1975, but you can’t keep Godzilla down. The next eras of Godzilla movies — spread out across 40 years and two continents — weren’t just one organic sequel after another. Each successive entry in the Toho Studios–originated series had to establish its relationship to the original 1954 masterpiece, and the resulting movies are as varied in theme, tone, and quality as all the kaiju on Monster Island.
Godzilla would return to Japan in 1984 with seven films in their own rebooted continuity that ignored all the previous movies except for the original. This new Heisei Era began as a more serious return to form, though they would evolve (or devolve) to become increasingly entertaining and somewhat silly by the time the ’90s wrapped up. Hollywood would get in on the game, too, first with the much-maligned 1998 Godzilla and then again with the ongoing MonsterVerse. Japan would reboot Godzilla for a second time with the Millennium era, adopting an anthology approach to mixed results. A third reboot, the Reiwa era, runs parallel with the MonsterVerse and so far has offered two boldly original standalone reimaginings of the iconic monster along with the kaiju’s first animated film foray.
With the premiere of the newest Japanese Godzilla movie, Godzilla Minus One upon us, and the next MonsterVerse entry, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire slated for early next year, it’s a fitting time to look back. This second half of Godzilla’s nearly 70-year history is a towering showcase of how versatile Godzilla is; a character who can be a hero, villain, or even eldritch abomination — to mixed results. No Godzilla movie will top the original, a genre-defining piece of blockbuster filmmaking born from the then-recent atomic bombing of Japan, but the films of the late-20th and early-21st century show just how vast the King of the Monsters’ kingdom is.
22. Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
The three anime Godzilla movies (see also: No. 21 and No. 18), all of which made their U.S. debuts on Netflix, are pretty universally reviled by the Godzilla fandom, and for good reason. Boasting a glossy, CGI-anime style that’s monstrous (in a bad way) to look at, the trilogy is light on any of the traditional hallmarks of the kaiju genre. There are no buildings to be smashed — instead the series is set in the far future, when refugees of a monster-devastated Earth attempt to make a postapocalyptic return to their homelands. It’s as different a premise for a Godzilla movie as there has ever been. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but the anime trilogy doesn’t do its premise justice, instead stuffing the films with ill-fitting anime tropes and gobs of complex, invented sci-fi lore that’s both overly serious and seriously under-explained. The Planet Eater , the capper to the trilogy, is the worst of the bunch. King Ghidorah, one of the most famous kaiju in the series, appears, but in a way that’s so underwhelming it almost seems malicious towards the audience. The film ends with the main character committing suicide to put a status-quo-restoring stop to all this madness. Godzilla is occasionally nihilistic; the anime trilogy goes a depressing step further by being three movies long and ultimately feeling pointless.
21. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)
There are interesting ideas in the anime trilogy, including this middle installment’s reimagining of Mechagodzilla not as a robot kaiju but a semi-sentient metal city that will do battle with an impossibly large King of the Monsters. However, City on the Edge of Battle is like the rest of the anime films in that it refuses to get out of its own heady way and actually let interesting things happening, instead throwing up roadblocks like a debate about the importance of one’s sense of self between overly logical aliens and one of the least likable human protagonists in anime history. City on the Edge of Battle is too obsessed with the bleakness of its own lore to fully engage in any of the possibilities it creates.
20. Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)
The failure of Hollywood’s first take on Godzilla, which reimagined this towering icon into a skittering lizard that was clearly aping more from Jurassic Park than any of the kaiju films that came before it, positioned the start of Godzilla’s third era as something of a return to form. The Americans didn’t get Godzilla — let Japan show you how it’s done. Unfortunately, Godzilla 2000: Millennium is narrowly worse than the American debacle. It respected Godzilla’s aesthetics but otherwise placed him in a cheesy mess of a movie with bottom-tier human characters and an oddly mundane vibe. Godzilla’s foe here, a giant living UFO that absorbs information and eventually attempts to absorb Godzilla’s own regenerative powers, is interesting in theory but ends up being one of the worst monsters in the series. Bland humans treat Godzilla as a routine annoyance while he fires his atomic breath at what basically amounts to a flying egg. At least the ’98 Godzilla was sporadically engaging for all its many flaws.
19. Godzilla (1998)
The problem with the 1998 Godzilla was that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, coming off of the smash hit Independence Day , had no interest in making a Godzilla movie. Instead, they wanted to use Godzilla’s name to make a disaster movie, but while that subgenre is typically their forte, Godzilla fails to be an effective disaster movie, and it’s an even worse kaiju movie. There are some highlights — the rain-soaked late-’90s Manhattan setting is a fun playground for a monster (even if it was hell for the actors ) and the soundtrack stomps. But, there were some regrettable creative choices: making the climax a lame ripoff of the Jurassic Park raptor scene rather than supersize action, making the French (?) responsible for Godzilla’s creation, and having an entire subplot fat-shaming Roger Ebert as payback for a previous bad review all prevented Godzilla from even succeeding on its own terms. (Star Matthew Broderick blankly delivering every single line as though it was his first pass at the first table read didn’t help.) As for Godzilla himself — there’s a reason why fans took to calling the misshapen iguana “GINO, or “Godzilla in Name Only,” and why Kenpachiro Satsuma, the suitmation actor who played Godzilla in the Heisei films, walked out of a screening saying, “It’s not Godzilla, it doesn’t have his spirit.”
18. Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)
The first of the Netflix anime-trilogy movies is the best of the bunch because, unlike the next two, it has not yet gone up its own planet-size ass. The (relatively) straightforward story of a revenge-obsessed protagonist returning to the distant future of a world he no longer recognizes to kill the nearly invincible beast response for its destruction is a decent one, and at this point it’s still novel to see Godzilla reimagined in such a drastically different, explicitly sci-fi way. It’s still more interested in being a mediocre anime than it is in being a good Godzilla movie (and the animation style is still visually challenging to parse), but at least it hasn’t yet lost itself in complex narrative detours of the later two films.
17. Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
The Heisei Era is also sometimes called the “Vs. Era,” because six of the seven movies in it are titled Godzilla vs. [insert monster name here] . That naming convention is telling, and although some of the later movies would, to varying degrees of success, attempt to be about something more than just two kaiju throwing down as miniatures spectacularly explode around them, it’s clear what the primary goal was. Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla feints at being about “not polluting outer space,” since the titular kaiju is a crystalline mutation of some Godzilla DNA that made its way to space and into a black hole. It’s pretty vapid stuff, though, and a creative choice to have Heisei monsters attempt to be more animalistic by using beams rather than more human-like wrestling moves reaches its nadir here as Godzilla and SpaceGodzilla mainly just stand still and fire various beams at one another. Creatively, too, it’s clear the Heisei franchise was nearing its end. The previous movie had pitted Godzilla against Mecha Godzilla, this one against Space Godzilla, and there was even talk that the next movie would feature Ghost Godzilla. Thankfully, Toho came up with something different — and much better — for the final Heisei film.
16. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
There’s an innate tension with Godzilla, because he’s a monster that began with nuclear death and eventually became a planet-saving hero. All of the Godzilla movies on this list, one way or another, needed to decide where to place the kaiju on this scale, and to decide how seriously they wanted to take the original metaphor. There’s no wrong answer — dumb, popcorn Godzilla movies can be a blast, as a certain simian showdown’s high placement on this list will reveal — but there might not be a Godzilla movie that’s more outright offensively disrespectful than his second MonsterVerse appearance. Whereas the 2014 Godzilla got largely undeserved criticism by carefully doling out its monster action, King of the Monsters slams Godzilla and three of his most iconic foes from the Japanese films (Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah) together in a artless way that sucks the majesty away from the proceedings. That’s just bad, but what’s unforgivable is how flippantly King of the Monsters inverts the atomic metaphor that begat Godzilla. Nuclear devastation of Boston is quipped away as being merely “a bad day to be a Red Sox fan” and Ken Watanabe gallingly looks down at a broken watch that survived Hiroshima as he explodes a nuclear weapon in order to revive Godzilla and save the day. Not every Godzilla needs to be a grim treatise about our species ability to destroy itself — the vast majority of the movies aren’t, and that’s okay — but they shouldn’t actively work against this theme the way King of the Monsters does.
15. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
Tokyo S.O.S. is the only film in the Millennium Era to be a direct sequel to another movie in the era. Whereas all the other movies only included the original 1954 Godzilla in their continuity, Tokyo S.O.S. is a follow-up to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla . Unfortunately, despite being a sequel, it does away with one of the main things that made the first movie, which blended live-action kaiju aesthetics with giant mecha anime tropes, a success. Akane Yashiro, the pilot of the MechaGodzilla known as Kiryu that battled Godzilla to a draw in the previous film and formed a bond with both Godzillas (and, in a rare occurrence for Godzilla ’s human characters, the audience as well) is written out of the sequel. Instead she goes to train in America, leaving the handling of Godzilla — and by extension the movie — to a clear B-squad of characters. Mothra and her larvae appear, too, but they almost beat-for-beat repeat by now tired Mothra plots and Tokyo S.O.S. lacks the spark of its predecessor on both a kaiju and human level.
14. Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)
Mothra is arguably Godzilla’s most famous kaiju co-star, having first appeared in her own standalone movie in 1961 before facing off against (or allying with) Godzilla in several movies throughout the Showa era. Unfortunately, that means that some of the Mothra beats begin to get repetitive — two tiny twin princesses show up, make warnings, Mothra shows up, Mothra’s larvae emerge from a big egg, roll credits. Mothra’s sole Heisei Era outing includes most of these basic plot points while attempting to mix things up a bit in a somewhat basic environmental parable. Most notable, there’s the introduction of an “evil” Mothra named Battra, although Battra’s not evil so much as its mission is to protect “the planet” and not to protect “humanity.” Godzilla vs. Mothra does everyone’s favorite big butterfly justice, it’s just held back by weak human characters and the limitations of the kaiju action, as the Mothra and Battra suits have a hard time engaging with the Godzilla suit, leading to a lot of beam exchanges at a distance and clumsy body slams that get old quickly.
13. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
The fittingly named final installment in the Millennium Trilogy was a love letter to Godzilla’s past, bringing an unprecedented number of past kaiju together from what was then five decades of movies (even “Zilla,” the American monster from ’98 makes a deliberately embarrassingly brief appearance) and putting them under the control of an extremely ’00s reimagining of the Xiliens, a memorable alien invader race from Invasion of Astro-Monster , a Showa Era highlight. Final Wars is a tour through Godzilla’s history, yes, but in a way that’s divorced from any of the the context or importance of the character other than his own 50th anniversary. It’s a collection of entertaining, largely silly references that add up to a fun movie but not necessarily a good one.
12. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
Having already pitted the Heisei Godzilla against King Ghidorah and Mothra, two of his most iconic foes, Toho returned to another iconic enemy, Mechagodzilla (and, also the giant pterodactyl Rodan). This time, rather than an alien creation, Mecahgodzilla was a human effort to defeat Godzilla, giving a direct sense of human stakes to the battle. Mechagodzilla wasn’t the only character from the Showa Era that Toho gave a Hesei spit-shine. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II also makes the King of the Monsters a dad, again, though Baby Godzilla is far from the garish monstrosity of Godzilla’s Showa Era spawn, Minilla. The whole movie is very much an intentional modernization of past Godzillas , which unfortunately hampers it a little bit 30 years later now that aspects of the moviemaking now themselves feel dated.
11. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
Looking at Godzilla’s filmography, it’s obvious that, despite the high-minded atomic metaphor that spawned the franchise, a lot of these movies are really, really stupid. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus , the second installment in the Millenium Era of films, is so stupid that it loops around to being kinda good, actually. This is a movie where, in order to defeat Godzilla, Japanese scientists invent a satellite with a gun that shoots black holes, as one does. A test firing of this gun unleashes mutant, prehistoric dragonflies that swarm Godzilla before their kaiju-size queen goes claw-to-claw with him. It’s absurd, but in a knowing way, and there are sequences that play with Godzilla’s sense of scale in a way that many movies in the series take for granted. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus also was the debut of what would become the closest thing Godzilla has gotten to theme music since Akira Ifukube’s score from the original.
10. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
The villains in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah are a group of time-travelers who come from a future where Japan is so economically successful, it has surpassed the United States, Russia, China, and generally become a hegemonic superpower. To stop this, the “Futurians” travel back in time and unleash the three-headed King Ghidorah on Japan. (That Japan really was in the midst of an incredible economic boom in the early ’90s, to the chagrin of the West, was not an accident.) They also attempt to prevent Godzilla’s existence, so the King of the Monsters can’t stop Ghidorah, by traveling back to World War II and kidnapping a dinosaur that will, once irradiated by nuclear tests, become Godzilla, from the timeline. (That dinosaur is a hero to a group of Japanese soldiers, because it saved them when it stomped on a bunch of American G.I.’s.) Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah has a lot going on, even if the anti-Americanism never feels like it really amounts to anything of intellectual substance. (There is also a robot character who was clearly just Toho’s attempt to copy The Terminator .) The monsters are good, though, and for all its controversy the film does include one of the meanest, most darkly funny moments in the entire series: A former soldier looks in awe and reverence at Godzilla, the creature that had saved his life in the Pacific in World War II. Then Godzilla absolutely obliterates him with his atomic breath. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah does a better job than any other movie of making Godzilla an anti-hero, as he’s the lesser of two evils and you’re rooting for him to defeat Ghidorah … but he’s still a big nasty guy himself.
9. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Much like Biollante, a truly unique and impressive-looking kaiju who is a combination of Godzilla’s DNA, a rose, and, uh , the cells and soul of a scientist’s deceased daughter, Godzilla vs. Biollante is a bit of a hodgepodge of a movie. The second Heisei film after the fairly straightforward and grounded The Return of Godzilla , Biollante is almost as much of an international espionage thriller as it is a kaiju flick. A fictional Middle Eastern country wants Godzilla’s cells to genetically modify crops to grow in the desert, and one of their trained agents will stop at nothing to obtain them. Meanwhile, we’re introduced to a psychic named Miki Saegusa who can use her powers to attempt to influence the kaiju. She will be a recurring character in the rest of the Heisei films, which already says something about the direction they’re taking. Biollante is one of the coolest kaiju in the entire series yet she only appears in her final form for a showdown that’s as brief as it is thrilling, which is to say, very. It’s a lot, but unlike some of the other mishmash-y Godzilla films, each individual thread is entertaining despite the looming madness.
8. Godzilla (2014)
If you ever doubt that human characters are important to making a great Godzilla movie, look no further than the first film in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, which goes from “great” to merely “good” once Bryan Cranston’s character, a bereaved widower looking to uncover the truth behind the disaster that claimed his wife’s life, dies about a third of the way through the film. His son, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, picks up the reigns as the protagonist in Cranston’s stead, and although his status as a Navy EOD officer lets him be close to the giant-monster action — which Gareth Edwards directs with a breathtaking sense of scale and deliberate restraint — he’s just not as interesting. It’s an unfortunate substitution, as the otherwise excellent sense of awe Godzilla has for its Titans and set pieces is muddled by characters who evoke only a sense of “meh.”
7. The Return of Godzilla (1984)
Godzilla had been gone for less than a decade when he returned in 1984 for the first time since the Showa era ended , but Return of Godzilla feels momentous. It’s a return to form, boasting a renewed level of expensive effects and, for the first time since the original, featuring no monsters for Godzilla to fight. Though Return ’s human characters are nowhere near the level of that original, and the movie weirdly downplays the impact of Godzilla’s return within its own fiction, the first movie of the Heisei era directly tackles the evolution of the nuclear weapons that first inspired Godzilla, updating the metaphor for the Cold War. Whereas the original echoed the devastation that Japan suffered and warned against future atomic tests, in Returns Godzilla is revived due to the machinations of the United States and the Soviet’s nuclear programs. Few other Godzillas are as of their time, in a positive way, as Returns.
(N.B.: The American edit, Godzilla 1985 , is much worse. The Soviets are re-edited to be villains, there’s obvious product placement for Dr. Pepper, and Raymond Burr reprises his role from the American edit of the original movie, although due to the rise in popularity of a certain comedian in the ’80s, his character is exclusively referred to as “Steve” or “Mr. Martin.”)
6. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
After only six films over the span of a decade, it was clear that the Heisei era was reaching its creative end (and Hollywood was making a Godzilla movie that, at the time, everyone was pretty excited about). So, Toho decided to end the first reboot series with Godzilla’s death — an effective headline-grabbing premise that Godzilla vs. Destoroyah pulls off with thrilling respect and a real connection to the icon’s history. The other monster, the demonic Destoroyah, was born of the Oxygen Destroyer, the superweapon that killed the original Godzilla in the ’54 movie. Godzilla himself, meanwhile, is melting down, turning him into an-orange glowing tower of rage who will eventually destroy the whole world when he eventually explodes and unites the Earth’s atmosphere. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah manages to be a fun romp despite the heavy stakes (there’s a sequence featuring some smaller forms of Destoroyah that make it clear that someone at Toho saw Alien and wanted to ape that), but it expertly blends the Heisei era’s now complex continuity, reverence to the original movie, and the core metaphor that powers Godzilla into an incredible send-off.
5. Godzilla Minus One (2023)
The latest Japanese Godzilla takes things back to the start — before the start, actually. Rather than attack a mostly recovered Japan in 1954, as in the original, Minus One ’s Godzilla strikes in the immediate aftermath of the war that left Japan devastated by firebombs, atomic bombs, and psychological scars. Already at a metaphorical “zero,” Godzilla’s arrival takes the country to “minus one,” hence the somewhat clumsy title. There’s a world in which Minus One is disquieting, where the nuisance of who started that war is totally lost and instead we’re treated to a nationalistic uprising. That’s not what director Takashi Yamazaki does, and while the film isn’t overly interested in interrogating the causes of World War II, it paints the horrors as a folly that average citizens need to find a way to recover from. It’s a movie about optimism, not militarism. Godzilla here is imposing, nigh-unstoppable terror, yet the thrill of the film comes from the fact that he might not be an insurmountable obstacle, no matter how much of an underdog disarmed Japan and our protagonist, a disgraced kamikaze pilot who abandoned his duty, might be.
4. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (1993)
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla , featuring the third version of Godzilla’s robotic counterpart, works so well because it seamlessly blends the kaiju genre with another, similar-but-distinct genre with all of its own tropes. It’s a mecha anime, in the style of Gundam , Voltron , or Neon Genesis Evangelion , but live action and featuring Godzilla. That makes it an exhilarating watch, and visual cliches like the giant robot swooping to the rescue or pulling off its ultimate attack feel fresh in this new context. Perhaps more importantly, though, the recasting of Mechagodzilla as a true “mecha” means that the robot’s pilot, a young woman named Akane Yashiro who is looking to prove herself after her inaction in an earlier confrontation with Godzilla led to the death of her mentor, is an engaging human character who is also directly connected to the monster action in a way that few other protagonists in the series have been.
3. Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
There have been lots of movies called Godzilla vs. [insert monster name here ]. The Heisei and Showa eras are full of them, and there was already a movie in the ’60s called King Kong vs. Godzilla , with the order flipped. However, no movie in the franchise, “ vs. ” or otherwise, has delivered on its title as much as the MonsterVerse’s Godzilla vs. Kong , which is exactly what it says on the tin and, well, not much more. But Godzilla vs. Kong wisely knows its titular showdown is exactly what audiences want to see, so it pours everything into delivering that duel. The special effects are great, the fights thrilling, and the human characters know their place, but we still get to hear Rebecca Hall say “Kong bows to no one.” Godzilla can be many things, and the absolute best movies are the ones that use his titanic status to say something more about society, history, or the atomic age we’re all cursed to live in. But, also, some Godzilla movies can be pretty great because a giant lizard and a giant ape fight real good on top of an aircraft carrier.
2. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Godzilla has been heroic, he’s been aloof, and he’s been varying levels of horrifying. Only in GMK , however, does Godzilla truly feel evil as opposed to just bad . Sporting a design with all-white eyes that make him out to be the sort of demon that he’s reimagined to be, GMK makes Godzilla into Japan’s unholy punishment. In the movies where Godzilla is attacking Japan rather than defending it against a worse kaiju, the country is cast as a victim — understandably so, because originally the monster was an allusion to the bombings that ravaged Japan. Here, he’s a creature of malice powered by the souls of the victims of the Pacific War, the crimes of which Japan isn’t ready to admit. Aided by some of the more memorable human characters in the series, three guardian monsters (Mothra, King Ghidorah, and the kind of adorable Baragon), are able to best Godzilla, but not before GMK flips the script on all the other Godzilla movies, creating a kaiju whose innate evilness partially stems from the horrifying, unacknowledged truth that this near-mythical wrath might be earned.
1. Shin Godzilla (2016)
Godzilla is at his strongest when he means something. Nothing will ever top the original Godzilla , a movie released within a decade of the atomic bombings that inspired it. Shin Godzilla , written and directed by Hideaki Anno of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame, comes the closest because it’s inspired by its own all-too-recent tragedy and feels dreadfully specific in its metaphor. Shin Godzilla is a direct reflection of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and ensuing Fukushima nuclear disaster, events that still loom far larger in the Japanese consciousness than a Western viewer might assume. Godzilla feels like an unnatural natural disaster, first emerging from Tokyo Bay in a grotesquely horrifying, Muppet-like adolescent form and bringing with him a wave of destruction not unlike the wall of debris created by a tsunami. Japan’s old, stodgy government is initially too caught up in bureaucratic red tape and inertia to mount a response. (The scenes where groups of men in suits move from one conference room to another with much formality and little effect are darkly, dryly funny.) This is a Godzilla born of modern fears and concerns.
And what a Godzilla it is. If other versions of the iconic monster were a mutated dinosaur, Shin Godzilla ’s kaiju is more akin to an eldritch abomination. As is perhaps fitting for the first Japanese Godzilla to be CGI rather than suitmation, there is nothing human about Shin Godzilla . It’s a monster that defies all sense of order and all your expectations. The moment where Godzilla unleashes his atomic breath is a moment of unparalleled horror and, in a perverse way, beauty. That Godzilla, an icon that’s approaching three-quarters of a century old and who has played basically every role in every media, still has the ability to shock and wow like this is a testament to Shin Godzilla .
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Rank All Monsters! Every Godzilla Movie, Ranked
I love Godzilla movies, I love ranking Godzilla movies, and I love Godzilla – on some level, I bet you probably do too. To hate Godzilla is to hate the idea of the “giant monster wrecks stuff/fights other monsters” movie concept, and to hate that concept is to hate mindless fun itself. Do you hate mindless fun? If so, I pity you, and I wish I could send a guy in a bulky rubber suit to your home to give you a hug, assuming he could operate the arms sufficiently.
With anticipation surging to unprecedented levels with both another American Godzilla movie ( Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire ) on the way, and the American arrival of Toho’s upcoming Godzilla Minus One , this is the perfect time to really dig into the history of this venerable series, which first kicked off with the black and white Japanese classic Gojira in 1954. What followed were 30 Japanese sequels and one ill-fated American remake in 1998, plus three more American films in the last decade. They make up one of the silliest, most colorful and consistently fun film libraries ever created.
Some of these films hold up well today as legitimate action/monster pictures. Others are appreciable as camp classics. Some were terrible from the moment they were released and have only gotten worse in the years that followed. But if you’re wondering which Godzilla movies you should watch in the weeks leading up to the kaiju’s next appearance, this list of every Godzilla film from worst to best should provide the answer. If you’re wondering just about the best Godzilla monsters, we’ve got a list for that too. Note: We’re focusing only on live-action films here, so the Japanese Godzilla animes are not included, nor is Apple’s Monarch: Legacy of Monsters .
Kicking things off, the very worst Godzilla movie ever made!
Here’s every Godzilla movie, ranked:
34. godzilla (1998, american remake).
I only include the American Godzilla film starring Matthew Broderick because if I didn’t, someone would ask in the comments why it wasn’t on the list. It’s the worst in so many conceivable ways, but chief among them is that the monster simply isn’t Godzilla . He’s much smaller, weaker, doesn’t have atomic breath and generally doesn’t have anything fans loved about the original Godzilla. The film was so reviled in Japan that Toho Studios, the original creators of Godzilla, don’t recognize it and refer to the monster as a separate creature called “Zilla.” He makes a brief cameo in 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars , only to get blown to bits by the real Godzilla in a fight that lasts about 15 seconds. Good riddance. It’s a Godzilla movie in name only.
33. Godzilla’s Revenge (1969, alternatively All Monsters Attack )
There’s a near universal consensus that Godzilla’s Revenge is far and away the worst Japanese Godzilla movie, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s at the height of the original “Showa Series” (1954-1975) child-friendly period, and as such the main character is a young latchkey kid. The monsters aren’t even “real” in this one, but simple fantasies this kid has while daydreaming between regularly scheduled beatings from the school bullies. And when he does visit Monster Island in his dreams, he mostly hangs out with the supremely annoying Minilla , Godzilla’s son, who can speak English in a dopey voice that sounds like it was lifted directly from Davey and Goliath . Even when they do watch Godzilla fight, it’s mostly just stock footage from Son of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster , which were already bad films on their own. He doesn’t even get “revenge” on anyone! Avoid at all costs.
32. Godzilla Raids Again (1955, alternatively Gigantis, the Fire Monster )
Stupidly renamed Gigantis, the Fire Monster for no reason in American releases, this was the second-ever Godzilla film, the first where he fights another monster, and the only other after Gojira to be in black and white. Unfortunately, it loses practically everything that made the first film notable: Gone already is the serious tone and social commentary, and gone is most of the atmospheric cinematography and sense of scale. It feels cheaper on all levels. The enemy monster is Anguirus, who eventually becomes Godzilla’s most trusted ally, but the art of kaiju vs. kaiju battles is completely in its infancy here. They fight not like pro wrestlers (which I consider fun) but like animals jockeying and shoving one another about with little choreography, which does not make for compelling cinema.
31. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966, alternatively Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster )
Godzilla fights a huge lobster! Not a well-conceived plot or monster, which makes slightly more sense when one finds out the script was originally intended for a Japanese King Kong adaptation. This one is very slow, with Godzilla not even showing up until almost an hour in. His fight with Ebirah is dull, and the Godzilla suit for this one looks particularly dopey and non-threatening. When you’ve got guys in rubber suits, a fight in waist-deep water is probably a pretty bad idea from a “fast-moving action” perspective. Mothra shows up briefly, but she can’t save this one. Even the MST3k version is a bore.
30. Son of Godzilla (1967)
Ah, just what we needed, more Minilla (also referred to as “Minya”). He’s only slightly less annoying here than in Godzilla’s Revenge , mostly due to the fact that he’s not speaking English with a voice that sounds mentally handicapped. Really though, your tolerance for Son of Godzilla will be entirely based on how much Japanese kiddie fun you can withstand. There are some chuckles to be had in observing Godzilla’s deadbeat dad demeanor, like when he allows Minilla to be hit in the face by a big rock or stomps on his son’s tail while teaching him to use his atomic breath, but you’re more likely to be taxed by the kid’s temper tantrums. It’s hardly a “real” Godzilla movie, and easily skipped.
29. Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
It pains me to place this one so low, because it features two of the Godzilla series’ best monsters. It has the return of Ghidorah, the three-headed golden dragon typically considered Godzilla’s arch-enemy, and also the badass Gigan, the kaiju with scythe arms and a huge, spanning saw blade in the middle of his chest (seriously). Unfortunately though, despite the strong cast of characters, the movie is hamstrung by its own cheapness. It takes absolutely forever to get going and revolves around a bizarre plot involving a Godzilla-themed amusement park, and it also has one of the series’ most unnecessary moments as Godzilla and Anguirus actually speak to each other in garbled “monster English.” Then, once the fights eventually begin, it’s full of reused stock footage from the much better Destroy all Monsters —make a new movie!
28. Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
In the Heisei series, the films often began creating villains cloned or somehow created from Godzilla’s DNA, and “SpaceGodzilla” is probably the weakest of these ideas. He’s basically Godzilla, except with some big crystals attached to his shoulders. This one also features a giant robot named M.O.G.U.E.R.A. who seems like an inferior version of the better Godzilla opponent, Mechagodzilla (keep reading), although technically he predates Mechagodzilla in other film. It’s also got the Heisei version of Minilla, here called Baby Godzilla or Godzilla Jr., which is not a mark in its favor by any means. Overall, it’s just one of the more forgettable Godzilla entries, especially next to some of the other Heisei series movies. Inexplicably, “SpaceGodzilla” seems to have a small but dedicated fan base, but who knows why.
27. Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
These rankings are pretty subjective, and I’m sure plenty of people would have this film higher or lower on the list. This is the height of cartoonish ridiculousness in the Showa series, and honestly, Godzilla is practically a supporting character in this one. The bomb-spitting villain Megalon is goofy as hell, and Gigan makes a welcome return. The real “star” of the film is Jet Jaguar, a size-changing robotic superhero who was essentially ripping off the popular character of Ultraman. It’s incredibly silly, horrendous and simultaneously hilarious, which is only amplified by its appearance in a classic episode of MST3k. Highlight: The most ridiculous offensive maneuver in Godzilla history . So stupid, they had to show it twice.
26. Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971, alternatively Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster )
Possibly the weirdest Godzilla flick of them all, and certainly the ickiest. The villain this time is Hedorah/the smog monster, a living blob of toxic ooze. Godzilla, meanwhile, might as well be Captain Planet, because this is one of the only Godzilla films that ever tried to have an overt environmental message rather than a subtextual one. Of course, it’s difficult to even notice that message because this movie will have you assuming someone slipped a powerful narcotic into your beverage. Like an acid-fueled freakout, it’s filled with hallucinogenic nightmares, including a scene where all the revelers in a dance club transform into fish people like it’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas . It would seem this was made during some sort of brief counterculture experimentation in Japan. It’s capped off by the strangest Godzilla moment ever, when the King of the Monsters is able to FLY AWAY by using his atomic breath to scoot himself gently across the sky . Really, it has to be seen to be believed.
25. The Return of Godzilla (1985, alternatively Godzilla 1985 )
This was the first film of Toho’s second run of Godzilla movies, the “Heisei series” (1984-1995), which updated Godzilla with much better special effects and more serious plots. This being the first film, it’s essentially a straight retelling of the original Gojira theme, except set against the backdrop of the Cold War. It’s serious—dour, even—and has some pretty neat effects for the time, especially in its miniature sets, but it’s just not as fun to watch as Godzilla’s battles with other kaiju in the Heisei films that were to come. It ends with Godzilla being dropped into a volcano, but you know that can’t keep the King of the Monsters down.
24. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
This was the second film of the third and final Japanese series to date, the so-called “Millennium series” (1999-2004) of Godzilla movies. The practical effects are better than ever, but it also suffers from some really shoddy-looking CGI, which was a very bad choice in a film series totally committed to using a guy in a suit as Godzilla. The enemy kaiju, Megaguirus, is a flying, moth-like creature that’s a bit too close in execution to both Mothra and the earlier monster, Battra, and it comes one movie after another flying enemy. It lacks creativity, and I expect most fans would cite this as the worst of the Millennium series films.
23. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
This film served as the introduction for Godzilla’s greatest foe, the three-headed Ghidorah. It also introduced the concept of a group of kaiju brawling simultaneously, as Godzilla and Rodan (a giant pterodactyl) join forces with the larva of Mothra to take down the threat of Ghidorah. It’s classic stuff, but very cheap-looking and doesn’t stand up as well to the passage of time as some of the other Showa series films. It’s the first of the monsters from outer space to appear in the series, but Ghidorah would go on to much more compelling appearances in the future.
22. Godzilla vs. Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
We’re in a forgettable middle ground of Godzilla movies now, where they don’t particularly offend or stand out. This was the Heisei series’ attempt at reviving Mothra, but it’s mainly notable for the introduction of the enemy kaiju, Battra, which is essentially a vindictive version of Mothra come to punish the human race for infringing on “the Earth’s natural order.” He does this by blowing stuff up with purple lasers. Mothra, meanwhile, can’t seem to decide if she wants to fight for or against Godzilla in this flick, which makes it a little confusing. I think you know who wins out in the end.
21. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
This one is truly iconic, the “Batman vs. Superman” of the giant monster world. Kong, blown up to Godzilla’s size, is practically unrecognizable compared to the original American version of the giant ape. He feeds off electricity for no discernible reason and plays the hero role. This being the third film in the series, Godzilla is still in full villain mode and has yet to make his anti-hero transition. They have an absurd, drawn-out battle that ends in both crashing off a cliff and into the ocean, after which Kong swims away. A very persistent urban legend has maintained that there was a Japanese cut of the ending where “Godzilla wins,” but this was never the case. Regardless, the movie doesn’t truly reveal a victor, making it all the more surprising that there was never a sequel.
20. Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
More bright and sunny than the preceding Godzilla: King of the Monsters , but also lacking any real attempt at a bigger message or any kind of profundity, Godzilla vs. Kong knows exactly what it is and delivers what it promises in its title—no more, and no less. Generations have been waiting for this rematch, and the fight scenes between the two “alpha” Titans are certainly worth the price of admission, as the two great beasts smash each other’s faces through skyscrapers with absolutely no concern for the thousands of innocent bystanders who are most assuredly trodden underfoot. We admit that we’re particularly glad to say that an actual winner is crowned in that fated 1v1, and the right choice was made. The human drama of Godzilla vs. Kong , on the other hand, is like a starvation ration of plot being shared by three times as many performers as should be necessary to handle it. Why more human characters keep getting added to the Legendary MonsterVerse, when it doesn’t know what to do with the ones it already has (and killed the only interesting ones), we can’t say. But they don’t do Godzilla vs. Kong any favors. Still, this is a serviceable popcorn muncher.
19. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
After a series of masterfully constructed trailers that emphasized the beauty and grandiosity of the kaiju, overlayed with portentous dialog from the leads, audiences could be forgiven if they went into Michael Dougherty’s King of the Monsters expecting a certain degree of dignity and gravitas. Alas, this is not really that film–although it does have some beautiful visuals, the 2019 KOTM has more of a Michael Bay sensibility, throwing walls of sensation at the screen whenever the camera is in motion. The human drama is ridiculous in the extreme—not automatically a bad thing, more an expected thing, in a Godzilla sequel—but it becomes frustrating when it fails to progress the plot (what little there is) in a way that makes any kind of sense. Indeed, any time a human character is on screen in KOTM , you typically find yourself dumbfounded by the things coming out of their mouths. On the other hand, the film also contains some of the most gorgeously rendered giant monster battling in the history of the big screen, so that certainly helps. In the same vein as Final Wars , but without quite as much action, this is an entry where spectacle and destruction are really the only features of note, although it does contain some of the most majestic shots of Godzilla’s rogues gallery, particularly the vicious Ghidorah.
18. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
This is one of the films that is perfectly fine on its own, but looks worse in context of the full series and the films that surround it. It immediately followed 2002’s Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla as a direct sequel, but doesn’t have any of the same characters. Likewise, it doesn’t have much new to say or do, except for the inclusion of Mothra, who feels pretty played out in the series by this point. There’s some fun but uninspired destruction. Most of the Mechagodzilla movies are of nearly the same quality, so we’re just going to blow through them now. Prepare to be perplexed.
17. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2 (1993)
I realize these names are becoming confusing, but the easiest way to understand this is to recognize that this is the Mechagodzilla movie of the Heisei series. It’s also the first to reimagine the robot as a hero rather than a villain, constructed by the United Nations to fight against the rampaging Godzilla. It has some great action, including multiple upgrades and an array of creative weapons for Mechagodzilla, but it’s also hard to get around how much less threatening this version of the monster looks than the classic Mechagodzilla of the 1970s. I really hate that stupid look on his face—he looks like a big, hulking robot simpleton. But still, very entertaining.
16. Godzilla (2014)
The rebooted American Godzilla by Gareth Edwards struggles between two aspirations, to channel the gravitas and meaning of the 1954 original and also satisfy a popcorn-crunching audience of American action movie fans who just want to see some stuff get blowed up real good. At its best, it gives in to the pulpy ridiculousness of being a film about giant monsters, simply stepping back for a second to let the beautifully rendered creatures become the stars. At its worst, it bogs down in endless human drama that is devoid of meaning, following the wrong protagonists (why kill Bryan Cranston? Why?) as they struggle to rescue nameless children and the audience wonders why it should care. A number of awesome moments in the final 30 moments help propel this launch of Legendary’s MonsterVerse up the list, and the film particularly benefits from its sense of scale and awe toward Godzilla in particular, but just as often it frustrates by teasing the audience with expected confrontations that don’t actually happen. It’s a mixed bag, but one that has grown in our esteem in the years since it was first released. Of the modern American Godzilla films, it easily pays the most respect to Godzilla as a character and a force of nature.
15. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
The first Mechagodzilla film of the Millennium series features one of the stranger Godzilla plots. Once again, the robot has been built by the government to defend against Godzilla, but this film ignores all others that came before it since the original Gojira . The robot has been constructed by using the bones of the first-ever Godzilla killed in the end of the original film, and somehow these bones retain their memory or “soul.” This results in the robot going haywire and attempting to destroy the city while simultaneously battling Godzilla. It’s armed with the very cool “absolute zero cannon,” which can freeze entire sections of the city. One can argue that this film is really more about the human characters than Godzilla himself, which holds it back from a higher ranking.
14. Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
This is the second-ever film to feature Mechagodzilla and is a direct sequel to the first one. An excellent entry into the Showa series, it really lets Godzilla be an ass-kicker. Where he needed help to beat Mechagodzilla in the first film, here he solos two monsters simultaneously, also taking on the new aquatic kaiju, Titanosaurus. He has one of his best entrances in the series : we see him for the first time when he suddenly blasts Titanosaurus from off-screen, then gets a smash-cut and the Godzilla theme. He comes in like he’s Batman clearing house on a bunch of goons, and that’s exactly what he does.
13. Godzilla 2000 (1999)
The first film of the Millennium series is a pretty action-packed flick. I absolutely love the design of the Godzilla suit in this movie—it looks sharper and meaner than ever, and the effects have gotten even better than the Heisei series. The enemy kaiju is one of Godzilla’s weirder opponents, starting off as a UFO before stealing some of Godzilla’s DNA (that trope again) and morphing into a giant monster called Orga. This guy is so big that he tries to swallow Godzilla whole at one point, but that’s a bad idea when your target can breathe atomic blasts. Regardless, this film went a long way toward repairing the damage to the character that the 1998 American Godzilla had wrought. Every film from this point on is a series classic.
12. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
The final Millennium series film is one of the most divisive among fans, thanks to its completely over-the-top visual aesthetic and gimmicky storyline. Invading aliens turn loose what amounts to Godzilla’s entire rogue’s gallery, and he just marches around throughout, beating down monsters like Anguirus, Ebirah and Gigan. It’s a film notable for having just as many human action sequences as kaiju ones, which some fans find distasteful. I, on the other hand, feel like it’s more entertaining to watch martial arts sequences than yet another scene of scientists discussing Godzilla, as has been the case for 27 films at this point. It all culminates in a surprise final boss battle that pays tribute to the classics of the series. It’s over-the-top fun, which is pretty much what I want from Godzilla.
11. Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965, alternatively Invasion of Astro-Monster )
The direct follow-up to Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster broke some serious new ground for the series by fully fusing it with science fiction and space travel for the first time. The plot has a pretty cool concept, as a new planet is discovered, and its resident aliens request the help of Godzilla and Rodan in fighting their tormentor, Ghidorah. The aliens, however, turn out to be evil (aren’t they always?), and mind-control Godzilla, Rodan and Ghidorah before unleashing them on Earth. It’s great Showa series fun with a better-than-average plot, and it remains the only time Godzilla has been to another planet. Also: The most out-of-character Godzilla moment ever. Really, what were they thinking?
10. Destroy all Monsters (1968)
This film was originally intended to be the final movie of the Showa series, and it received a larger budget to match. That extra money meant monsters—lots of monsters! A true battle royal, it features Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Anguirus, Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Manda, Varan and Ghidorah. It takes a while to get going and features all the monsters separately in small cameos, but then ends in the scenario every kid dreamed of: A big brawl with all the monsters present. They ultimately team up to take out Ghidorah, always considered the biggest threat. Just classic stuff, a movie that would have been a fitting send-off to the original series—it’s shameful that this was followed by Godzilla’s Revenge .
9. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964, alternatively Godzilla vs. The Thing )
One of the all-time classic pairings of two monsters, Mothra vs. Godzilla was the moment many kids became Godzilla fans for life. Still serious, before the Showa series transitioned into children’s entertainment, it features Godzilla as an unsympathetic monster who is completely impervious to earthly weapons. Mothra, on the other hand, is a perfect hero and protector of the Earth. For being a giant moth, she puts up a pretty great fight against Godzilla. In typical Mothra fashion she’s eventually bested, but her larvae are able to save the day. Each adult Mothra has a pretty short shelf life, as it turns out.
8. Shin Godzilla , aka Godzilla Resurgence (2016)
Kicking off the modern run of Japanese Godzilla features that we now refer to as the Reiwa era, Shin Godzilla turned the typical structure of a Godzilla film on its head in 2016 by not only showing the monster’s evolution, but the nitty gritty of humanity’s bureaucracy driven response to a potentially world-ending threat. It was hard to know what to expect from yet another remake/reimagining of Big G’s first contact with the human race, but this film actually pulls off a tough task in fine style. It’s very dialog and politics-heavy, but these scenes are thankfully shot in a dynamically paced way, with quick edits that keep you engaged in endless discussion of how to deal with the threat of Godzilla. Most notable, though, is that Godzilla doesn’t look quite the same, especially when the audience first sees him. Rather, the iconic monster is in a completely different, more aquatically based form at first, before rapidly (and terrifyingly) evolving into something more akin to the Godzilla we know and love. His capabilities in this film are more fearsome than ever, and his wild, unpredictable nature is great fun to watch. There are certainly lulls, but his on-screen destruction is some of the best of the entire series, and the ending opens up some very interesting, unique new pathways the series could take in the future if they ever choose to follow up on this particular reimagining.
7. Gojira (1954, alternatively Godzilla, King of the Monsters )
This is by far the most difficult film to rank on a list. It would be cliché to award the original Godzilla film the #1 spot simply out of deference, but we all know that without this one there would be no others. Viewing it today, it’s easy to admire the film’s unexpected gravitas and poetic moments. It’s the most thoughtful Godzilla picture by far, and the cinematography wonderfully emphasizes Godzilla’s size and power as a destructive force of nature, while evoking the horrors of postwar Japan. Still, it’s not as purely entertaining as some of the sillier follow-ups, and I would bet that most Godzilla fans watch other entries in the series more often than they re-view Gojira . It’s the most important Godzilla movie without a doubt … but not the “best.”
6. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
This is a truly unique Godzilla film from the Heisei series. The first movie to feature an enemy grown from Godzilla’s DNA, Biollante is a giant Venus flytrap-like monster that can hunt down people individually with its vines/tentacles. He is a legitimately terrifying spectacle, and the film is so dark and serious that it almost seems like Godzilla has been crossed with a horror flick. It’s so different from other Godzilla movies that it immediately stands out, and Biollante is memorable as one of Godzilla’s most vicious-looking opponents. It was a much-needed breath of fresh air at the time, and it’s still an underrated entry in the series.
5. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
The first-ever appearance of Mechagodzilla in the Showa series is still the best. I have such fond memories of this film, and it embodies the earlier Godzilla movies to me. Mechagodzilla is presented as an absolutely devastating opponent with abilities that outclass Godzilla in every way, and he beats Godzilla to within an inch of his life. My favorite bit though, is the inclusion of a Godzilla ally named “King Caesar,” some kind of bizarre lion-dog hybrid who needs to be woken from a long slumber by singing Japanese adult contemporary music . Then, after all that build-up, he immediately gets WRECKED by Mechagodzilla, which I’ve always found hilarious. And the aliens controlling Mechagodzilla are secretly ape people, for some reason! Seriously, this one is as nutty as it is entertaining.
4. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
This is easily the most emotionally affecting Godzilla movie ever made, and also one of the best. Godzilla immediately looks different—why is he glowing red, like he’s filled with molten lava? Well, it turns out that as a downside of being powered by nuclear radiation, Godzilla’s heart is a reactor that is literally beginning to melt down. This makes him stronger than ever, which is absolutely necessary against the demonic Destoroyah, easily one of the most powerful Godzilla enemies. “Godzilla Junior”—no longer Minilla—is also heavily involved, and finally he’s become a capable monster in his own right who resembles his father. In the end, after Destoroyah is defeated, Godzilla melts down and his powers pass to Godzilla Junior, making this the only real “death of Godzilla” besides the original Gojira . As the black-and-white footage of the series rolls, you almost want to shed a tear.
3. Godzilla Minus One (2023)
Big G returns in utterly triumphant fashion in 2023’s Godzilla Minus One , which immediately feels like the most direct corollary to Gojira that the series has ever produced, while thoughtfully modernizing so many of its elements. Wisely, despite the transition to full-on CGI effects to bring Godzilla to life, the creators still capture his stiff, upright movement as it’s always been, the physical remnant of having been played by a man in a suit. Rarely, however, has the sheer mass of the monster been captured so vividly and terrifyingly as it is here, as we watch whole sections of roadway buckle and leap into the air after each of his thunderous footfalls–not to mention the incredible destructive spectacle of his atomic breath. This Godzilla is genuinely terrifying, a rampaging beast without an ounce of mercy or nobility to him. This likewise results in the odd situation where we actually find ourselves genuinely rooting for the human characters to vanquish and defeat Godzilla for once, a rare state of mind for the Godzilla series that is empowered by Minus One ‘s sympathetic protagonist Kōichi Shikishima, a man trying desperately to find either a reason to live or the courage to die following the horrors of the second world war. He’s surrounded by salt-of-the-earth Japanese citizens who band together to overcome a truly impossible-seeming obstacle, with an unexpectedly hopeful depiction of human ingenuity and selflessness. An absolutely outstanding kaiju film in general, and one of the few to ever successfully make the human characters an effective center of the action.
2. Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Ridiculous title, awesome movie. Godzilla is once again reimagined and redesigned as the bad guy, while Mothra, Ghidorah and Baragon are surprisingly reimagined as “Earth Guardians” who must defend Japan. Godzilla’s vendetta against Japan is much more personal this time, and he’s at the absolute height of his powers. Even combined, the military, Mothra, Baragon and Ghidorah stand little chance against this incarnation of the King of the Monsters. He is the biggest ass-kicker here that he’s ever been, and he has lots of opportunities to turn loose his destructive potential. There’s even a good human story wedged into this iteration. There’s really nothing you can even suggest to improve it.
1. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
This movie is absolutely ludicrous, in the best possible way. The Heisei series rebirth of Ghidorah once and for all establishes an origin story for Godzilla—turns out he’s a “Godzillasaurus” dinosaur that was mutated by atomic radiation. It also introduces another alien-fueled plot that involves time travel and gives us an origin story for Ghidorah, as well. But really, it’s just the perfect combination of absurd human plot and ramped-up kaiju fighting action. After being initially defeated by Godzilla, Ghidorah is rebuilt into the cyborg “Mecha-King Ghidorah,” and that monster design is the high point of the series as far as I’m concerned. It’s the coolest monster Godzilla ever fights, in his finest cinematic outing to date.
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident genre geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more film and TV writing.
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All the Godzilla Movies Ranked
By Matthew Chernov
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He’s been dissolved at the bottom of the ocean, frozen solid in an iceberg, blown up in a volcano, disintegrated in an atomic meltdown, and killed by missiles on the Brooklyn Bridge, but thanks to the millions of fans who love him, Godzilla will never die. Most recently, Japan’s biggest star returned in 2021 in “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the latest entry in the Big G’s ever-expanding filmography. Pitted against his hairy rival for the second time in history, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the fourth movie in Legendary Pictures popular MonsterVerse saga, which launched in 2014 with Gareth Edwards’ stylish reboot.
Like many long-running franchises, the Godzilla series has gone through a number of distinct phrases since its introduction. The first phrase, which covers the 15 titles released between 1954 and 1975, is commonly known by fans as the Showa era. These kaiju films (kaiju is the Japanese term for giant monster) are marked by their dramatic shift in tone, from the somber and haunting original classic to the wonderfully ludicrous “Godzilla vs. Hedorah.”
The second phase is often referred to as the Heisei era, and it includes the seven titles released between 1984 and 1995. These Godzilla films feature a greater sense of narrative continuity, and they ask complex philosophical questions about science and humanity. The third phase is the Millennium era, which covers the six titles released between 1999 and 2004. The majority of these Godzilla films are self-contained stories, much like an anthology series. There have also been a number of standalone reboots, both Japanese and American, that put their own unique spin on the character.
To help you program the ultimate monster marathon, here’s our Godzilla movie ranking, listed from wretched worst to bestial best. Long live the lizard king!
All Monsters Attack (1969)
The atrocious tenth film in the series focuses on a bullied boy who escapes from his depressing existence by dreaming that he and Godzilla’s moronic son Minilla are playmates on Monster Island. Although helmed by visionary filmmaker Ishiro Honda, who directed many of the best Godzilla films, “All Monsters Attack” is widely regarded as the worst of the worst, and for good reason. Due to budgetary problems, most of the action is comprised of recycled footage from previous Godzilla movies, and the original material looks like it was shot in a single weekend using whatever old monster costumes were on hand. Awful in every way, the American version adds insult to injury by dubbing the childlike Minilla with a deep male voice that sounds oddly like Mr. Ed, the talking horse.
Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
Angered by mankind’s seemingly endless appetite for subterranean nuclear testing (seriously, have these tests ever worked out well for anyone?), an underwater civilization known as Seatopia sends a giant electrified beetle named Megalon up to the surface to stop all the racket. Naturally, Godzilla and his new robotic pal Jet Jaguar defend humanity by throwing foam boulders at the oversized insect. Visually speaking, this unlucky 13th film in the franchise is a drab and gloomy affair, and features some of the dullest monster fighting in the entire series. Much of the blame can be placed on Megalon, who emerges as one of the least charismatic enemies in Godzilla history.
Son of Godzilla (1967)
Top secret weather control experiments on a tropical island lead to the creation of humungous praying mantises, and only Godzilla and his dopey offspring Minilla can set things right again. Lackluster in all respects, this amateurish eighth entry was directed by Jun Fukuda, the man responsible for some of the silliest – and sloppiest – movies in the franchise. Like a kaiju version of “The Great Santini,” the film portrays Godzilla as a callous and abusive father to his disappointing son, whose creature costume resembles a moldy-looking Pillsbury Doughboy.
This notoriously misguided American reboot appears to have been crafted by filmmakers with little appreciation for what made Godzilla one of cinema’s greatest icons in the first place. Rather than a towering behemoth whose lumbering gait signals the inexorable approach of death and destruction, here we get a scampering, chicken-legged dinosaur who spends most of the movie fleeing from his enemies like a cat running away from a vacuum cleaner. Factor in the film’s leaden humor, bloated running time, and Matthew Broderick’s lifeless performance, and it’s easy to see why this 23rd Godzilla film is loathed by hardcore kaiju fans.
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
Notable only for introducing Godzilla’s dog-like adversary Anguirus, who would go on to become one of the most beloved beasts in the series, this rushed production is marred by awkward direction, threadbare special effects, and an interminably slow and meandering second half that dispenses with monster fights in favor of pointless human drama.
Godzilla 2000 (1999)
The first film of the series’ newfangled Millennium era, this largely forgettable entry ignores all previous installments and functions as a direct sequel to the original movie. This time, Godzilla battles a UFO that eventually transforms into a lethargic baddie named Orga, whose oversized claws and ungainly body looks suspiciously like the Rancor monster from “Return of the Jedi.” Although the story’s human subplots are better handled than usual this time, “Godzilla 2000” contains only a handful of memorable scenes, making it one of the more skippable titles in the franchise.
Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
When Mothra accidentally exposes a few of Godzilla’s skin cells to energy from a black hole, a bizarre new creature nicknamed SpaceGodzilla is born and quickly begins terrorizing Earth. Although the idea of Godzilla battling an evil doppelganger is ripe with possibility, this 21st entry does little to distinguish itself and often feels like a retread of familiar moments from better movies. Admittedly, SpaceGodzilla looks extremely cool with massive glowing crystals protruding from his back and shoulders, but his powers are frustratingly random and the movie’s storyline is a bit of a mess. An appearance by the robotic Moguera, first introduced in Toho’s 1957 sci-fi thriller “The Mysterians,” does little to elevate the tired material.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
When military scientists create a newly improved Mechagodzilla using the remains of the recently defeated Mecha-King Ghidorah, they think they’ve finally found a way to kill Godzilla once and for all. Meanwhile, in a possible nod to “Kramer vs. Kramer,” Godzilla and Rodan duke it out over custody of a recently discovered Baby Godzilla. Although energetically directed by Takao Okawara, this 20th Godzilla film feels a bit old hat. Part of the problem is that with so many excellent Mechagodzilla movies in the series to choose from, this one just doesn’t seem that special. Other than Mechagodzilla’s beefed-up torso, which makes him look a steroid-enhanced gym rat, there’s not a lot that’s new here.
Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
With his red cyclopean eye, metallic jai alai scoop hands, razor-sharp beak, and dorsal-finned back, the giant alien cyborg named Gigan is one of Toho’s most impressively designed monsters; and that’s before his secret buzzsaw belly-blades are revealed in all their gory glory. Although the film’s plot isn’t quite as inventive, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some genuine pleasures to be had here. In particular, setting the final battle at a monster-themed amusement park complete with a Godzilla-shaped building that fires lasers from its mouth is a welcome touch, as are the grotesque alien cockroaches who set the absurd story in motion.
Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)
When a young man and his two friends find themselves shipwrecked on a remote island while searching for a lost brother, they encounter terrorists, enslaved natives, and a ginormous lobster named Ebirah. In the process of avoiding capture, they accidentally awaken Godzilla, who apparently took a disco nap on the island after the events of “Invasion of Astro-Monster.” Less concerned with global cataclysm and world domination, this fun entry in the Godzilla series works well as a standalone story. Although Ebirah doesn’t have many unique abilities – other than being a crustacean the size of a battleship – the monster fights are invigorating and well-staged, and the lush island setting provides a refreshing change of scenery from the endless urban destruction that the franchise usually focuses on.
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
When Mothra’s miniature fairy minions inform the Japanese government that Godzilla will continue to rain destruction upon Japan unless they destroy Mechagodzilla, the country’s stubborn Prime Minister ignores the dire warnings, setting in motion an epic battle between all three super-sized opponents. While the plot won’t win any awards for originality, director Masaaki Tezuka captures some seriously impressive monster fights in this 27th film in the series. Mothra fans, in particular, will find much to love about this installment, which frequently refers back to the giant moth’s 1961 standalone movie. Even Mothra’s silk-shooting larvae are given a chance to shine by trapping Godzilla in an impenetrable cocoon during the climactic battle.
Featuring an intense performance by Bryan Cranston and a striking new creature design for the title character, this bold reimagining of Godzilla was a monster-sized hit for Legendary Pictures. Unfortunately, Cranston barely makes it through the film’s first act, and Godzilla has even less screen time than he does. The camera work is exquisite… when you can actually see it. Much of the film’s second half is so dimly lit and obscured by smoke and fog, it’s honestly difficult to tell what’s happening during the meager number of monster tussles we’re given. Note to future kaiju filmmakers: the Godzilla series is not “The Blair Witch Project.” The audience has to actually see the onscreen action to appreciate it.
Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
Another big treat for longtime Mothra fans, this 19th entry finds Earth itself declaring war on humanity in the form of Battra, a giant black moth who’s revealed to be the physical embodiment of the planet’s inherent instinct for self-protection. Filled with fantastic imagery and thrilling battle scenes, the film was Mothra’s first appearance on screen in 25 years, and director Takao Okawara provides her with a vibrant new look and some freshly super-charged powers. Although Godzilla is given less to do here than he is in most other installments, the addition of Battra, who acts as a dark twin to Mothra, is an inspired touch that makes up for Godzilla’s relative lack of agency in the movie.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
The only Godzilla film to incorporate time travel into its story, this wonderfully weird 18th entry has enough plot to fill a half-dozen movies. In a nutshell, time travelers from the future arrive in the present with a warning that Godzilla will cause an apocalyptic nuclear accident in a few years, and the only way to prevent it is to travel back to World War II and stop him from being created in the first place. But that’s just the tip of the narrative iceberg in this over-the-top extravaganza. None of the film’s time travel rules make any sense whatsoever, but that doesn’t stop this monster mash from being outrageously entertaining.
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
One of the more underrated entries of the Millennium era, this installment ignores all previous Godzilla films and picks up where the 1954 original left off. When Godzilla emerges from his decades-long slumber, Japan unveils a new weapon capable of firing artificial black holes at the rampaging monster. But during a test run, the weapon accidentally opens a dimensional wormhole, and a giant dragonfly pops through just long enough to deposit an egg in our dimension. Before long, dozens of gargantuan insects and their menacing queen attack Godzilla like a swarm of irradiated locusts. Featuring a beautifully designed enemy in Megaguirus, not to mention a storyline that’s surprisingly easy to follow for a change, this 24th Godzilla movie feels like a welcome return to the early days of the series.
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
Not to be confused with the similarly titled “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla,” this 27th entry plays like a trial run for Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” with a human-piloted robot battling a flesh-and-blood monster for control of the Earth. As the lead pilot who operates the newly designed Mechagodzilla, actress Yumiko Shaku delivers a performance that’s powerful enough to make you wish she appeared in more Godzilla movies, rather than just a cameo role in “Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.” Longtime Toho fans will appreciate the callbacks to classic kaiju movies of the past, like the original “Mothra” and “War of the Gargantuas,” but it’s Mechagodzilla’s imposing new look – especially those shoulder mounted cannons and segmented neck structure – that leaves the biggest impression.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
A much-needed course correction after the anemic action of the first MonsterVerse movie, this occasionally dazzling epic features some amazing creature fights, including a sensational aerial battle between Rodan and King Ghidorah. Although the majority of the monster scenes are once again annoyingly obscured by torrential rainstorms and typhoon-level sea surges, the film is an improvement on the previous entry in almost every way. Each of the newly designed monsters is given at least one showstopping moment, making the movie a treat for longtime Godzilla disciples.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
The first film in the series to be shot in color, this third entry basically embodies the phrase “so bad it’s good.” Freed from the icy tomb he was trapped in at the end of the previous movie, Godzilla emerges ready to confront King Kong, who’s been transported to Japan by a dastardly drug company. A spectacularly wacky addition to Godzilla history, this glorious grudge match between two of cinema’s best-known monsters is stuffed with corny humor and hilariously cheesy fight scenes. Given a spiffy new make-over by returning director Ishiro Honda, Godzilla’s appearance here is truly awesome. Kong, however, doesn’t fare as well. In fact, he looks like someone sculpted a monkey’s face out of mashed potatoes and stuck it on a filthy shag carpet. But that’s just one of the many charming aspects of this bonkers installment.
Destroy All Monsters (1968)
When female aliens from planet Kilaak release all of Earth’s kaiju from their confines on Monster Island, it’s up to the United Nations to step in and regain control of the destructive giants. The cinematic equivalent of an all-star WWE pay-per-view event, this madcap monster melee pulls out all the stops when it comes to action and excitement. In addition to familiar creatures like Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah, the movie also includes a number of lesser-known behemoths like leaping lizard Gorosaurus, slithering sea serpent Mandra, and savage spider Kumonga. It’s a no-holds-barred monsterpalooza!
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Often referred to simply as “GMK,” this endearing homage to classic Godzilla movies of the past is a fine entry point for new viewers or returning fans who haven’t kept up with the series in a while. Directed by Shûsuke Kaneko, who brilliantly rebooted the moribund Gamera series in 1995, the film doesn’t shy away from showing viewers the painful human cost of the non-stop monster battles that have plagued Earth for decades. Best of all, Godzilla is reimagined here as a terrifying threat for the first time in years. With his disturbing all-white eyes and demonic snarl, the Big G has rarely seemed more frightening.
Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
Here’s a valuable tip for you. Never, under any circumstances, trust a race of sunglass-wearing aliens from Planet X when they arrive on Earth asking to “borrow” Godzilla and Rodan for a little while. One of the all-time craziest sci-fi themed entries in the franchise, this sixth Godzilla movie has a lot going for it, especially the welcome presence of American actor Nick Adams, playing a cocky astronaut who shows the pleather-clad extraterrestrials who’s boss. Adams was no stranger to kaiju movies, having costarred in Toho’s giant monster pic “Frankenstein Conquers the World” shortly before appearing in “Invasion of Astro-Monster.”
Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
This divisive 50th anniversary entry is admittedly overlong and overstuffed, but that’s what makes it so audacious. Tasked with wrapping up Godzilla’s sci-fi heavy Millennium era, director Ryûhei Kitamura throws everything at the screen in an effort to wow audiences and reward lifelong kaiju fans. The result is a wildly entertaining yarn that combines Matrix-style martial arts with loving references to classic movies in the Godzilla franchise. Second-string monsters like Gigan, King Caesar, and Ebirah get stunning upgrades, and the film earns extra points for the way that Godzilla nonchalantly demolishes his American cousin, rebranded here as Zilla.
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Effortlessly blending serious action and jovial humor, the splendid fifth film in the series did more than just introduce the world to the shimmering gold-scaled dragon named Ghidorah. It actually managed to transform Godzilla from villain to hero for the very first time. Combining ancient prophecies, political conspiracies, and cosmic mumbo jumbo, the movie’s bombastic plot barely holds together, but who cares when there’s this much magic on screen? A prime example of the golden age of kaiju moviemaking, the film’s most dynamic character is, naturally, Godzilla’s magnificent three-headed adversary; a miraculously designed monster whose weird chittering vocal noises nicely compliment his opponent’s iconic roar.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
When an alien microbe hitches a ride on a meteor and plummets to Earth, it develops a taste for pollution and quickly becomes a towering toxic sludge monster named Hedorah. Godzilla, now a full-fledged defender of humanity, leaps to mankind’s defense and battles the sentient trash heap, whose smell alone can kill people. Many fans might wonder how this indescribably strange 11th film in the franchise managed to rank so high on this list. Well, the answer is simple: there’s literally no other Godzilla movie quite like this surreal curiosity piece. Granted complete creative control, first-time director Yoshimatsu Banno fashions a trippy, nightmarish, and altogether groovy ecological horror film that’s part cautionary tale, part insane kiddie flick. Although Hedorah occasionally resembles a 200-foot pile of dirty laundry, there’s something undeniably compelling about his disgusting design. A genuine camp classic.
The Return of Godzilla (1984)
After a nine year absence from the big screen, Godzilla roared back into theaters again with this triumphant reboot that blends a disaster movie scenario with a classic kaiju epic. Featuring impressive special effects and gorgeous production values that make it look like a major Hollywood studio film, the first entry in Godzilla’s Heisei era is more grounded than most giant monster movies, which works to its advantage. Godzilla’s breathtaking new look, especially his re-designed head, set the stage for all the future Heisei installments that followed.
Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Five years after the down-to-earth action of “The Return of Godzilla,” Toho followed things up with the most dreamlike movie in the franchise’s history. The film’s fascinating storyline involves a grief-stricken genetic scientist who creates a monstrous mutation by combining the cells of his deceased daughter with plant DNA and a few of Godzilla’s chromosomes. The horrifying result looks like something David Cronenberg might’ve come up with had he been tapped to direct a kaiju pic. This hugely original entry in the series asks complex philosophical questions about identity and medical ethics. In fact, you could actually remove Godzilla from the plot entirely and it would still be a memorable sci-fi film. Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t plenty of monster-on-monster mayhem on display. Biollante goes through several bizarre evolutionary stages, each one gooier and nastier than the last.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
Second in popularity only to Godzilla himself, Mechagodzilla was introduced to audiences in this wildly imaginative tale, the penultimate entry of the original Showa era. The robotic giant is given the series’ all-time best entrance, as his scaly outer covering dissolves away to reveal a gleaming metallic understructure hidden beneath it. Occasionally resembling a ‘70s James Bond spoof, the film is jam-packed with everything from new monsters – like an adorably fuzzy lion creature named King Caesar – to psychic visions and ape-faced alien invaders. But it’s Mechagodzilla who emerges as the film’s true MVP. Like a mammoth Inspector Gadget, this tin-colored titan is equipped with finger missiles, laser-beam eyes, rocket-powered feet, and a swiveling head that generates an impenetrable force field.
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
Kaiju auteur Ishiro Honda helmed this gritty follow-up to director Jun Fukuda’s playful “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla,” and watching the two movies back to back proves just how much one artist’s vision can differ from another’s, even when their work looks remarkably similar on the surface. Containing many of the same visual elements from Fukuda’s film, Honda’s penchant for turning sci-fi action into real-world metaphor is on full display here. The human drama presented in “Terror of Mechagodzilla” is dark and thought-provoking, and set the stage for complex entries like “Godzilla vs. Biollante” that we’d get in the future.
Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Restoring a sense of childlike wonder to the franchise, the exceptional fourth entry in the MonsterVerse saga is like a kaiju smorgasbord brimming with tributes to everything from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ pulpy Hollow Earth novels to Toho Studios’ 1967 classic “King Kong Escapes.” Lighter in tone than the three previous movies in this cycle, the story finds the secretive Monarch organization desperately trying to determine why Godzilla has reverted back to his old destructive ways. Globetrotting from one colorful continent to the next, the multiple subplots keep the action moving at a fever pitch, and the jaw-dropping combat scenes between the hulking and immovable Godzilla and the lithe and graceful Kong are some of the greatest monster fights ever caught on film. A visual marvel that will reward repeated viewings, “Godzilla vs. Kong” points a new way forward for the towering titans.
Shin Godzilla (2016)
Highly controversial and deeply disturbing, this one-of-a-kind monster movie brilliantly reimagines Godzilla as a terrifying force of chaos and horror, and portrays him in ways that haven’t been seen before, and probably won’t be seen again. Fans were split on whether the movie was a visionary work of genius or an insulting gimmick that barely qualifies as a true Godzilla movie. Although it remains hugely divisive, if you’re willing to go with it, this fearsome film will take you places in the Godzilla universe that you haven’t been before. The story is a complete reboot, ignoring even the original 1954 movie, and it takes serious risks by echoing the tragic tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. It asks what society might look like if Godzilla actually existed, and the answers it provides aren’t comforting. In short, it’s a pitch black modern masterpiece unlike anything else in the kaiju genre.
Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
A candy-colored fantasy containing many of the most unforgettable images in Godzilla’s long history, “Mothra vs. Godzilla” exists in a class by itself. In a curious way, this fourth film in the kaiju franchise resembles “Goldfinger,” the third James Bond blockbuster, which was also released in 1964. After all, both movies improved on their predecessors’ formula and set the template for all future entries in the series. Everything about it works perfectly, from composer Akira Ifukube’s devastating score to Eiji Tsuburaya groundbreaking effects to the provocative storyline and the fine lead performances. And tying it all together is Ishiro Honda’s unsurpassed direction.
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
It’s impossible to decide what’s most memorable about this final film of the Heisei era. Is it Godzilla’s stunning new “Burning Godzilla” appearance? Could it be the many clever callbacks and references to the original 1954 film? Or maybe it’s the ghastly design of Destoroyah, one of Big G’s all-time scariest opponents? Or perhaps it’s the fact that Godzilla Jr. finally emerges as a decent character? The truth is, it’s all of those things, plus so much more. But what makes this existential epic truly worthy of classic status is its profoundly emotional ending. For the first time in history, you’ll find yourself sobbing in a Godzilla movie as the final credits roll. Compassionately directed by Takao Okawara, “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah” elevates the kaiju genre to the level of Greek tragedy.
If Godzilla is indeed the king of the monsters, then director Ishiro Honda’s elegiac masterwork is the king of the monster movies. Like a dark fairy tale shot in vérité style by a documentary news crew, this disquieting metaphor for the horrors inflicted on Hiroshima continues to resonate around the world more than six decades after its release. Rendered in stark black and white, and filled with moving performances by legendary actors like Takashi Shimura and Akihiko Hirata, “Godzilla” is a bleak and austere work of art that stands alone in the annals of cinema.
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Every Godzilla film, ranked from worst to best
As godzilla minus one arrives in theaters, it's time to count down the previous 36 films from one of cinema's longest-running franchises.
Across four eras—Showa, Heisei, Millenium, and Reiwa—Godzilla has helped chart the course of both a country and a culture, speaking to the fears, hopes, and most fantastical dreams of the Japanese people. Toho’s Godzilla films have captivated the world for nearly 70 years, leading to a proliferation of giant monster (kaiju) films, inspiring a number of American blockbusters, while Hollywood has also successfully managed to develop its own take on the character (after an initial misfire).
From rubber suits to CGI, the Godzilla franchise has pushed visual effects forward, leading to some of the most incredible spectacles put on film. Beyond film, Godzilla has tackled television, video games, and comic books, truly proving himself to be King of the Monsters. In celebration of the upcoming release of Toho’s 33rd Godzilla film, Godzilla Minus One , and the current Hollywood-produced Monsterverse series, Monarch: Legacy Of Monster s on Apple TV+, The A.V. Club ranks every Godzilla film, from the worst to the best.
36. All Monsters Attack (1969)
Director: Ishiro Honda
Despite being one of director Ishiro Honda’s favorites, All Monsters Attack is frequently cited by fans as the worst film in the franchise. The issues are the use of stock footage and the tone, with the film standing as the silliest, most kid-friendly entry. The film follows a lonely, bullied boy, Ichiro (Tomonori Yazaki), who dreams of visiting Monster Island, the home of Godzilla. Once he finally reaches the island, he meets Godzilla’s adopted son, Minilla, who is facing his struggles with a bully, the monster Gabara. Ichiro helps Minilla fight Gabara and learns how to defeat his bullies in the real world . All Monsters Attack feels more like a Japanese iteration of an After-School Special than a Godzilla film.
35. Son Of Godzilla (1967)
Director: Jun Fukuda
There’s just something about Minilla. Maybe it’s his face or maybe it’s just his sheer existence, but whatever it is, fans find him grating. In Son Of Godzilla , scientists working on a weather-altering machine on an island end up creating a radioactive storm that mutates the praying mantises on the island into giant creatures. The giant insects discover an egg, containing a baby the same species as Godzilla. The infant’s telepathic cries reach Godzilla, who comes to the island to train Minilla and defeat the giant insects. The effects work, especially on the mantises is genuinely pretty great, but the whole Godzilla as a father figure scenario feels a little too twee.
34. Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973)
Showa-era Godzilla films frequently did the most, which is an inherent part of their charm. Godzilla Vs. Megalon takes it a step too far, though, resulting in a weird gumbo of elements, and a spot on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 . The undersea civilization of Seatopia unleashes its god, Megalon, to destroy the surface world. But Megalon needs guidance (he apparently can’t follow directions) so Seatopian agents enact a plan to steal the robot Jet Jaguar (the real star of this movie) from a trio of inventors. Eventually, the trio regains control of Jet Jaguar and uses him to fight Megalon. The Seatopians then send a distress signal to their alien allies, who send Gigan as backup, leading Godzilla to join the fight alongside Jet Jaguar, forcing their enemies to retreat. The odd combination of elements isn’t helped by the fact the kaiju suits in this one look particularly rubbery.
33. Godzilla (1998)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Expectations for the first Hollywood-produced Godzilla film were high, especially given the lengthy development and the fact it was helmed by Roland Emmerich, hot off of Independence Day (1996). The resulting film, Godzilla , isn’t a particularly good Godzilla film, as it lacks genuine socio-political commentary, and the Godzilla here is devoid of personality. There’s also the fact that the film is missing the star power element (sorry, Matthew Broderick) that made Emmerich’s ID4 and Stargate (1994) such hits. But as a big-budget Hollywood monster movie, Godzilla has some fun moments as it follows a group of scientists and the military on the hunt for Godzilla to stop the monster from reproducing. The hatchling Godzillas in Madison Square Garden is a highlight, and while there’s a lot the film is lacking, we’ll always wonder what Emmerich could’ve done with the two planned sequels.
32. Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
Director: Motoyoshi Oda
The greatest failing of Godzilla Raids Again , which is not entirely the fault of the film, is that it’s the first sequel to follow the masterpiece that was the original Godzilla . With the original Godzilla having died in the first film, Raids Again introduces a second Godzilla who would lead the franchise during the duration of the Showa era. The film introduced the versus concept, having Godzilla face off against another monster, Anguirus, which would establish the trajectory of the franchise. The human story, following two pilots and their girlfriends, has a lot more clarity than some of the later storylines, but compared to the first film, it’s dull. Raids Again lacks urgency and horror, and its attempt to capture the spirit of Honda’s original film highlights what it lacks.
31. Godzilla: Planet Of The Monsters (2017)
Directors: Kobun Shizuno, Hiroyuki Seshita
The first animated Godzilla film, Godzilla: Planet Of The Monsters is filled with interesting ideas, perhaps too many interesting ideas. Godzilla destroys Earth at the end of the 20th century, despite humanity and their alien allies’ best efforts. Their failure results in a mass exodus as humans search the galaxy for a new homeworld to colonize. Some 200,000 years later, humanity decides to return to Earth to see if it is still inhabitable. Upon arrival, a group of battalions discover that not only is Godzilla still alive but he has changed the biosphere of the planet. The group sets out on a mission to destroy the monster, but in killing it they discover they have only killed the offspring of Godzilla and the original monster is now over 300 feet tall, setting the stage for the two sequels that would follow. The plot itself is interesting but the film drags, becoming overloaded with tech talk and expositional theories, leaving the characters undeveloped and the film tedious.
30. Godzilla: City On The Edge Of Battle (2018)
Godzilla: City On The Edge Of Battle , the second installment of the anime Godzilla trilogy, introduces a nanotech version of Mechagodzilla, a human-made weapon that could be the planet’s only defense against Godzilla. Where the first film explored the effects of nature growing out of control, City On The Edge Of Battle centers on the dangers of rampant technology, with the nanometal used to create Mechagodzilla being poisonous. Despite interesting ideas, City On The Edge Of Battle is plagued by too much exposition across too long a runtime, making its greatest battle the one for the attention span of its audience.
29. Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
The third and final film of the Godzilla anime trilogy, Godzilla: The Planet Eater is the best of the bunch, but it’s also saddled with the same problem that hindered its predecessors. The introduction of Ghidorah, a kind of Lovecraftian god, forces humanity to reckon with spirituality. There is a clear overarching theme to each entry in the trilogy, as well as some beautifully rendered animation but this film, like the others, never feels like it entirely moves beyond its philosophy class leanings. Yet, what we’re left with is a compelling idea that Godzilla is not an enemy to be warred against, but a natural occurrence that humanity must learn to live alongside. There’s a hypothetical version of this trilogy where the three films were condensed into one film that could have resulted in one of the best Godzilla movies. But as a trilogy, the films feel too stretched out and too light on character to feel as fresh and exciting as the concept proposes.
28. Godzilla Vs. Kong (2021)
Director: Adam Wingard
Godzilla Vs. Kong , the fourth film in the Monsterverse franchise, brought two titans together to clash. Admittedly, the fight scenes between Godzilla and Kong are pretty cool, and there are some eye-catching visual effects. But the film’s characters and its overall narrative are a letdown, resulting in a piecemeal film that has all the staples of studio interference, along the lines of The Justice League (2016). Actors who were cast, like Jessica Henwick, are absent from the film, and key returning characters, such as Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) are reduced to cameos, while a key character, Ren Serizawa (Shun Oguri), does not refer to his father, Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), whose death in the previous film would’ve provided plenty of motivation. It’s a far cry from the previous Monsterverse movies, which took audience complaints about human characters and simply turned them into cartoons that only act to push the film toward a climax. It’s not the worst Godzilla film, but it may be the most disappointing given what came before and what the filmmakers had at their disposal.
27. Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus (2000)
Director: Masaaki Tezuka
While there are certainly some neat ideas in director Masaaki Tezuka’s film, its reach exceeds its grasp both in terms of story and CGI effects. Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus rewrites the ending of the original movie so that Godzilla was never destroyed by the Oxygen Destroyer, and instead has been a returning threat to Japan, feeding off nuclear energy. An unsuccessful attempt to switch to clean energy leads a defense team known as the G-Graspers to create a manmade Black Hole in which to capture Godzilla. But during the testing process, they accidentally revive an extinct, predatory species of Dragonfly who are drawn to Godzilla’s energy, and eventually reform into the species queen, the Megaguirus. While Megaguirus looks cool, the fight between her and Godzilla leaves something to be desired, and the Black Hole subplot really doesn’t make sense, even in the forgiving context of the franchise’s loose take on science.
26. Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
Director: Kenosho Yamashita
Brilliant special effects can’t entirely save Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla from its sluggish pacing. But boy, does SpaceGodzilla look cool. When Godzilla’s cells are introduced to radiation in space, the result is SpaceGodzilla, who immediately sets his sights on Earth. His first move is attacking Godzilla’s offspring, Little Godzilla (a new and less annoying version of Minilla), before setting his sights on Japan to transform the Earth’s core into a type of energy he can consume. But Godzilla and the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ mecha MOGUERA, which splits into a land and air vehicle, take the battle to SpaceGodzilla. The battles are fun but the stuff surrounding it isn’t quite as memorable.
25. King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962)
When the time came for the third Godzilla film, Toho upped the ante by bringing in the American monster who kicked off the whole giant-monster/kaiju phenomenon, King Kong. And it certainly worked for audiences: King Kong Vs. Godzilla holds the record as the most-attended Godzilla film in Japan to date. The plot revolves around a pharmaceutical company’s marketing scheme to capture King Kong and use him for advertising. Kong’s capture leads to the return of Godzilla and a clash between the two behemoths. The resulting showdown is a blast, and it delivers one of the franchise’s most iconic moments, where King Kong shoves a tree trunk down Godzilla’s throat. While it’s quite the shift from the World War II reckoning that started the franchise, the film does offer some compelling commentary on the pharmaceutical advertising business. Who wouldn’t take pills from the company that owned Kong?
24. Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep (1966)
Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep captures the spirit of a pulp adventure novel and follows a boy and his two friends as they search for his brother, who is lost at sea. Their quest leaves them washed up on Letchi Island, controlled by a terrorist organization, The Red Bamboo, which has enslaved the island’s indigenous people. But terrorists aren’t the only threat as Ebirah, a giant crustacean, also stalks the island. The island also just so happens to be the same one where Godzilla was trapped following a previous battle with Ghidorah. Godzilla is awakened and engages in a battle with Ebirah while the boys save the missing brother and free the island’s indigenous population, defeating The Red Bamboo. Ebirah doesn’t take itself too seriously and while certainly not the most ambitious Godzilla film, it is one of the most casually rewatchable.
23. Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
It may come as a surprise to learn that such an iconic Godzilla adversary was a late addition to the original run of Godzilla films, capping off the Showa era in two films. The first of those, Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla , sees Godzilla on a murderous rampage through Japan, catching off guard civilians who have come to know him as a hero. But this destructive force of nature isn’t Godzilla, but an imposter, created by aliens from the Third Planet of the Black Hole, who seek to use their creation, Mechagodzilla, to take over the world. Of course, Godzilla won’t stand for that, and he is joined by the guardian deity King Caesar, who aids him in defeating Mechagodzilla. There’s an interesting layer of mysticism versus technology at the heart of the film that adds a new aspect to the classic versus formula.
22. Mothra Vs. Godzilla (1964)
After the release and success of Honda’s Mothra (1961), Toho decided to take a page out of the King Kong Vs. Godzilla ’s playbook and merge two properties. Mothra Vs. Godzilla shifted Godzilla away from his science-fiction and horror roots and turned him more towards fantasy, in part to fulfill Toho’s desire to entice a younger audience. The gamble paid off, and Mothra became one of one of Toho’s most beloved characters. In the film, two tiny twin fairies and their god, Mothra, protect an egg from the wrath of Godzilla. There’s a fairy tale-esque beauty to the film, and while it is one of the odder entries in the franchise, it has a magical quality. Plus, it’s one of the few Godzilla films that works even though it places its focus on the adversary rather than Godzilla himself.
21. Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
Director: Takao Okawara
Despite the title, director Takao Okawara’s Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla II isn’t a sequel to the 1974 film, but a reinvention of the Mechagodzilla mythos and his rivalry with Godzilla. From the wreckage of Mecha-King Ghidorah, the military’s Godzilla defense task force, G-Force, built Mechagodzilla. After discovering a stolen egg in Rodan’s nest that hatches to reveal Baby Godzilla, G-Force uses the infant to bait Godzilla into a battle. Effects-wise, Okawara’s film is one of the best of the Heisei era, and while the plot isn’t particularly complicated or emotionally involved, it’s one of the franchise’s stronger battle-centric movies.
20. Godzilla Vs. Mothra (1992)
Mothra is reimagined for the ’90s in Godzilla Vs. Mothra . The twin fairies, now the Cosmos, enlighten humanity about an ancient battle between Mothra and her villainous counterpart Battra. Some 12,000 years ago, an ancient civilization attempted to control the Earth’s climate, resulting in the Earth’s creation of Battra to restore the natural order. But after Battra destroyed the ancient civilization, he became driven by blood lust, and Mothra was sent to Earth to defeat him. Their battle resumes in the present as Earth’s climate is once again thrown out of balance. Both Mothra and Battra realize that a greater threat to Earth exists: Godzilla. The film is an effective warning against climate change as well as one of the best-structured Godzilla films, despite originally being proposed as a Mothra solo reboot.
19. The Return Of Godzilla (1984)
Director: Koji Hashimoto
The first film of the Heisei era, The Return Of Godzilla rebooted Godzilla with a bigger budget, modern effects, and a darker tone that would carry through most of the era. The film ignores all the films that preceded it except for Honda’s original Godzilla , setting a new standard for the franchise and introducing the requel concept that would catch on in Hollywood decades later. The film was conceived as a result of younger generations moving past the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Return aimed to re-instill that fear, bringing Godzilla into the era of the Cold War and raising the possibility of not only nuclear attacks but a full-scale nuclear war. The Return is much more militarized than the Showa era films, a trait that would continue through the Hesei era.
18. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
Director: Ryuhei Kiamura
The final film of the Millennium era, Godzilla: Final Wars brought out all the stops in a massive celebration of Godzilla’s 50th anniversary that relies heavily on fan service and left critics mixed on its execution. Decades of environmental disasters have led to the proliferation of giant monsters as well as superpowered humans, all collectively known as mutants. These mutants, conscripted into the Earth Defense Force, helped put Godzilla on ice in the South Pole. But they prove to be out of their depths when the aliens known as the Xilians invade Earth, armed with their own monsters. It’s up to the defense force to free Godzilla in the hope that he can save the planet. Final Wars is full of fun references and callbacks, though weak on any larger thematic considerations. It’s an action-packed tribute but offers little to think about.
17. Destroy All Monsters (1968)
The ninth Godzilla film, Destroy All Monsters , is the battle royale of the franchise, bringing together Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah, and Anguirus. The film is such a blast that even Minilla’s appearance is forgiven. The monsters have all been corralled on Monster Island, resulting in a peace that Japan and the world haven’t known in years. That peace is shattered when an alien race known as the Kilaaks telepathically takes control of the monsters and leads them to attack Earth’s greatest cities. Once the Kilaaks lose control of the monsters, thanks to Earth’s human heroes, the result is a final battle that stands among the best of the entire franchise, with all of the monsters teaming up to deliver a beatdown on King Ghidorah. Destroy All Monsters isn’t complex, but it delivers on spectacle with monsters, aliens, and mass destruction.
16. Terror Of Mechagodzilla (1975)
The final film of the Showa era was a box office failure, resulting in the franchise going dormant for nine years. Despite this, Terror Of Mechagodzilla is a thrill ride that’s part espionage film, aquatic horror, alien invasion, and cyborg body horror. The emergence of an aquatic dinosaur, the Titanosaurus, leads Interpol agents to a mad scientist, Dr. Mafune (Akihiko Hirata), who has been tasked by aliens to use the creature to destroy the world, along with Mechagodzilla II. The latest version of Mechagodzilla is controlled by Mafune’s daughter, Katsura (Tomoko Ai), a cyborg who happens to also be in love with one of the Interpol agents attempting to stop Mafune and Mechagodzilla. Godzilla intervenes, destroying the threat after an epic battle that ultimately leads to Katsura sacrificing herself. In the end, Godzilla walks off into the sunset in a fitting end of an era.
15. Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
Director: Kazuki Omori
The reintroduction of King Ghidorah in the Heisei era is a smorgasbord of Hollywood tropes, resulting in a film that’s fun to watch if overly ingratiated to the box office hits of the era, Back to the Future and T2: Judgement Day . In Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah , a group of time travelers from 2204, known as the Futurians, claim to have the key to preventing the creation of Godzilla. The group, along with several scientists from the present, travel back to 1944 to prevent the dinosaur that becomes Godzilla from being bombarded by radiation from Hydrogen bomb testing. Unknown to the scientists, the Futurists leave behind three small creatures known as Dorats who merge and form King Ghidorah after the bomb testing. As you can imagine, that doesn’t bode well for the present day when the Futurians reveal their plan to use Ghidorah to destroy Japan and prevent it from becoming a superpower in the future. Japan is then forced to recreate Godzilla to save the country. Despite criticisms raised by the film’s politics, it still manages to deliver a clever new iteration of King Ghidorah and an epic showdown with Godzilla.
14. Invasion Of Astro-Monster (1965)
Invasion Of Astro-Monster , the sixth Godzilla film, brought back King Ghidorah, further establishing the three-headed monster as Godzilla’s nemesis. Aliens from Planet X, the Xiliens, promise Earth a cure for all diseases in exchange for Godzilla and Rodan, who they need to defeat King Ghidorah, also known as Monster Zero. But the Xiliens’ plan turns out to be a ruse as they plan to use Ghidorah alongside the mind-controlled Godzilla and Rodan to wreak havoc on Earth and hold it hostage. The film contains one of the better human storylines, building a buddy relationship between Japanese astronaut Fuji (Akira Takarada) and American astronaut Glenn (Nick Adams), who sell the beleaguered government employees trope while also proving to be heroes the audience can root for. The film stretches its narrative a bit thin, but still stands as one of the best Showa-era entries.
13. Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Political assassinations, aliens from Venus, prophecies, and a three-headed monster who would become Godzilla’s nemesis all come together in one of Godzilla’s most entertaining entries, Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster . It’s a film that shouldn’t work but ultimately does in terms of both the human storyline and the monster one as the stakes are always clear. Ghidorah introduced several elements that would become key to the franchise going forward, as well as a more notable blending of genres. A princess (Akiko Wakabayashi) facing an assassination attempt is possessed by an alien from Venus who warns humanity of the return of Rodan and the coming of King Ghidorah. Mothra seeks Godzilla and Rodan’s help to stop Ghidorah from destroying the world, but the two monsters refuse, after the years of abuse they’ve been subjected to by the humans. Inevitably, Mothra’s bravery in taking Ghidorah on herself and almost dying in the process forces Godzilla and Rodan to put aside their differences and face Ghidorah. Ghidorah broadens the scope of the Godzilla franchise by focusing on more than one monster, making the film feel like the first true blockbuster effort of the series.
12. Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)
The Millennium era kicked off with a novel idea. Rather than deliver a new series of sequential Godzilla movies, each entry, except for the two later ones centered on Mechagodzilla, would stand alone, the only continuity shared being Honda’s original film. In Godzilla 2000: Millennium , Godzilla has been a constant threat since the 1950s, resulting in the creation of the Godzilla Prediction Network, led by Yuji Shinoda, who, along with his daughter and a journalist, has been tracking Godzilla a la storm chasers, in an attempt to study the creature. Meanwhile, Crisis Control Intelligence, headed by a former associate of Shinoda, Mitsuo Katagiri (Hiroshi Abe), while seeking to destroy Godzilla discovers a UFO in the Japanese trench. The UFO awakens and seeks Godzilla’s genetic regenerative powers so it can survive outside the ship in Earth’s atmosphere. With Godzilla’s DNA, the aliens transform into the giant monster, Orga . Millenium is one of the easiest entry points for those looking for a way into Japanese Godzilla movies as it establishes compelling characters, clear stakes, and modern (for 1999) effects. 2000 raises the idea that Godzilla exists within the people of Japan and that monstrous ambition to either learn or destroy results in new horrors.
11. Godzilla Vs. Gigan (1972)
In Godzilla Vs. Gigan , director Jun Fukuda unexpectedly delivered one of Godzilla’s bloodiest battles, alongside a body-snatchers plot that inched into horror territory. Insectoid aliens take over the bodies of deceased humans and use their new forms to create a tower to send a signal to King Ghidorah and Gigan and bring them to Earth. Their plan and the tower itself are disguised under a peace-themed theme park, World Children’s Land, with its centerpiece Godzilla tower. A manga artist (Hiroshi Ishikawa) who helped design the park, along with his friends, stumbles on the plan and accidentally alerts Godzilla and Anguirus through the signal, as well as King Ghidorah, and Gigan, a new adversary who has metal claws for hands and a saw blade in his chest. While Gigan makes no sense biologically, he gives Godzilla a run for his money in one of the series’ best and bloodiest showdowns.
10. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
Mechagodzilla is reimagined for the 21st century in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla , and the result leads to one of the franchise’s best one-on-one battles. A cyborg constructed from the original Godzilla’s skeleton and given the name Kiryu is inducted into the Japan Self-Defense Forces as a Godzilla deterrent. The cyborg’s primary pilot is Lt. Akane Yashiro (Yumiko Shaku), a demoted officer still dealing with the consequences of getting her team killed during a previous monster attack. Director Masaaki Tezuka’s film not only delivers on action but provides great character development to Akane as she struggles with her own guilt and her fellow pilots’ mistrust. While the film is not without its cliches, Akane’s ability to gain the trust of her teammates and forgive herself, while also battling Godzilla, makes for one of the franchise’s more moving and character-driven entries.
9. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
For Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. , the only direct sequel in the Millennium era, director Masaaki Tezuka returns to further explore Lt. Akane and the cyborg, Kiryu. While the film doesn’t have the same level of character focus as its predecessor, Tezuka up the ante in terms of the action while also bringing Mothra into the fold. Godzilla continues to attack Tokyo, drawn to the bones of the original Godzilla housed inside Kiryu. The Prime Minister refuses to return the bones to their resting place, and while Kiryu undergoes repairs, Mothra emerges as Japan’s protector. Yet Godzilla proves to be too much for her and she sacrifices herself, giving Kiryu time to undergo repairs before a final showdown against Godzilla. While the seeds for a third film following Kiryu are teased in a post-credit scene, it never came to fruition as Toho opted to end its Millennium era with Final Wars . All the same, S.O.S . remains a highlight of the era.
8. Godzilla Vs. Hedorah (1971)
Director: Yoshimitsu Banno
Director Yoshimitsu Banno’s Godzilla Vs. Hedorah takes Earth’s pollution problem to heart and delivers what was then the most topical Godzilla film since Honda’s original. An alien life form that feeds on Earth’s pollution and grows into a giant monster with an acidic touch and a toxic smog that reduces the human body to charred bones. Banno goes for a darker tone than most of the Showa era sequels, making the human death toll horrific and drawing intentional parallels to the dead bodies left in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The tone is somber, and no scene better showcases Banno’s aim than when a group of young hippies gather at dusk on Mt. Fuji for a campfire and songs before the end of the world. The battle between Godzilla and Hedorah is a great one, and one of the franchise’s most brutal fights, with Godzilla losing an eye and the flesh on one hand. But it’s the foreboding sense of inevitable disaster that another Hedorah could rear its head if Earth isn’t careful that makes the film such a powerful one over 50 years later.
7. Godzilla, Mothra, And King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Director: Shusuke Kaneko
In Godzilla, Mothra, And King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack , Godzilla has been relegated to the past and replaced by modern concerns. But the past haunts the present and Kaneko’s film serves as both a ghost story and a subversion of Godzilla tropes. Godzilla is the manifestation of souls killed during the Pacific War, enraged by Japan’s denial of its violent history. Mothra, Ghidorah, and Baragon are spiritual beings known as Guardian Monsters who must confront Godzilla and stop him from destroying Japan. The film contains excellent kaiju fights, but there’s more to them than just violence and destruction. The battles represent Japan’s reckoning with its past while also attempting to protect its future. Kaneko’s film is one of the most beautifully complex Godzilla movies and a clear standout in the Millennium era.
6. Godzilla Vs. Biollante (1989)
Director: Kazuki Omari
Godzilla Vs. Biollante is a Godzilla film unlike any other and one of the series’ darkest chapters. The film was born from a public story-writing contest, and the winner, dentist Shinichiro Kobayashi, was inspired by the hypothetical death of his daughter. The film follows a scientist who tries to keep his deceased daughter’s soul alive by combining her genes with a rose that’s been altered with Godzilla’s cells. The result is a giant plant-like monster with teeth that emits spores and naturally draws the attention of Godzilla. The creature is the most complex and beautifully designed kaiju ever delivered on-screen, a mix of Cronenberg-level body horror and the suit work that has given Godzilla, his allies, and his enemies such personality over the years. Ultimately Godzilla Vs. Biollante is a tragedy about the monsters that can be born as a result of loss.
5. Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995) Dir. Takao Okawara
Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah , the seventh and final film of the Heisei era, is also that era’s best, featuring some of the franchise’s finest special effects and an ambitious narrative that harkens back to Honda’s original film. In the film, Godzilla’s heart, which serves as a nuclear reactor, is nearing critical, which threatens a world-destroying nuclear meltdown. At the same time, ancient underwater creatures, mutated by the Oxygen Destroyer that defeated the first Godzilla in the 1950s, have resulted in man-sized creatures, that eventually merge into a larger creature dubbed the Destoroyah. The creature sets its sights on Godzilla and his son, Godzilla Junior, killing the latter and absorbing its cells, becoming a massive kaiju. The death of his son sends Godzilla further into meltdown mode as the film builds to a clash between Godzilla and the biological manifestation of the weapon that killed his predecessor. There is a fascinating commentary on how weapons meant to save lives can eventually evolve and become more threatening than the thing they were originally meant to destroy.
4. Godzilla (2014)
Director: Gareth Edwards
Taking inspiration from Jaws and other early American blockbusters, Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla finally delivered a Hollywood Godzilla film that works. While some may be particularly critical of its characterization and pacing, Edwards excels at creating a sense of scale in tandem with Seamus McGarvey’s stunning cinematography (the Halo jump scene remains breathtaking). Godzilla is a patient film, the kind of blockbuster Hollywood studios rarely produce anymore, and it makes the bold move of killing off its most famous actor, Bryan Cranston, early in the film. But the thematic weight of that choice and the effect the loss of a father has on Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor Johnson) alongside Godzilla’s role as an environmental harbinger of the natural order of things makes the controversial choice an effective one. In an age in which humanity is constantly looking to improve and elongate our own lives, without larger consideration to the ecosystem, Edwards’ ability to grapple with the balance of birth and death, and the biological need to protect and create a legacy, is engaging. And seeing Godzilla unleash his atomic breath for the first time? Chill-inducing. The success of this film led Toho to revitalize Godzilla for their reboot.
3. Shin Godzilla (2016)
Directors: Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi
The Reiwa era once again brought about a reboot of Godzilla and it took a drastically different direction than what had come before. With Shin Godzilla , directors Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi make Godzilla uncanny and terrifying again, showcasing an unsettling evolution of the monster as it wreaks havoc on Tokyo. Rather than simply looking at the devastation caused by the monster, or pitting him against another kaiju, Shin Godzilla examines the bureaucratic red tape of the government and its numerous offices as it attempts to contain and destroy Godzilla without relying on nuclear weapons. Shin works within the context of Japan’s nuclear tragedy, while also exploring its contemporary politics for a film that feels like Godzilla meets House Of Cards . It’s a talky movie, with a lot of characters to keep track of, but the reward is one of the all-time great Godzilla films, which renewed interest in the character and introduced a new level of prestige to the franchise.
2. Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)
Director: Michael Dougherty
Godzilla: King Of The Monsters is the best American Godzilla movie. Following up and expanding on the themes of Edwards’ film, director Michael Dougherty focuses on the mythic nature of the Titans, creating a sense of awe that reminds humanity of how small it is within the ecosystem and the fear that comes with relinquishing control to greater powers. A population that seeks to control the world, that lacks the awe and respect that comes from fear is nothing but a parasite, the same as the alien invader Ghidorah, who parallels Vera Farmiga’s Dr. Emma Russell. Russell’s daughter, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), possesses a kind of theism in the Titans, following through on the mission of Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) by making peace with the Titans to make peace with ourselves and our existence as part of a larger system. For all of the film’s downright incredible action sequences and monster fights, given added power by Bear McCreary’s booming score, King Of The Monsters is a reminder that humans and their lens are essential to Godzilla films and that none of these Titans have any meaning, allegorical or otherwise, if not framed through the human perspective. It’s a film that actively rejects the idea that these movies can be made without human characters and makes the case that to understand Godzilla films is to understand the human characters’ place within them.
1. Godzilla (1954)
The film that started it all. Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla is a haunting post-war examination of the devastating effects of the atomic bombs unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bolstered by Akira Ifukube’s incomparable score. Godzilla is the embodiment of the fears of a nuclear holocaust carried by a generation yet to recover from real-world events. The monster emerges as the kind of creature that becomes engrained in a population’s memory as both a destructive reality and an allegory that speaks to the never-ending fear of repeat attacks. Godzilla is, at its core, a horror movie, which makes the successful reclaiming of Godzilla as a reluctant hero during the Showa era all the more fascinating. But in terms of the first film, there is a realism of almost documentary level as Honda follows the devastating effects of Godzilla on Japan while scientists, the military, and civilians all grapple with the monster, a structure that Shin Godzilla would later effectively borrow. There is a push and pull between the scientists over whether to study the monster or destroy it. This debate showcases the kind of scientific curiosity without foresight that led to the creation of the atomic bomb in the first place. The film proposes that the circumstances that created Godzilla could happen again if humanity isn’t careful and, ultimately, that’s what makes Godzilla hold so much weight within the culture and makes it so necessary to revisit, because humans are rarely, if ever, careful.
Every Godzilla Movie In The Franchise, Ranked
As the 1998 Godzilla movie celebrates its 25th anniversary, fans should check out the other monster movies in the franchise, like Godzilla Vs. Kong.
The Godzilla franchise has become as massive and dominating as its eponymous monster. 2023 marks the 1998 Godzilla film’s 25th anniversary, but the whole franchise has been around for 69 years and counting now. The Godzilla franchise helped bring the kaiju genre into mainstream media while also forming its own niche in the cinema industry.
RELATED: The 10 Best Godzilla Movies, Ranked According to IMDb
The many Godzilla film installments have become cult classics, especially for monster flick fans. However, not every film within the Godzilla franchise can rank the same. While some movies are as forgettable as Hedorah, others roar as loudly with success as Godzilla itself.
37 All Monsters Attack/Godzilla’s Revenge (1969)
Godzilla becomes a symbol of empowerment in All Monsters Attack . Dealing with bullying, young Ichiro escapes to Monster Island in his dreams. There, he finds solidarity with Minilla, and the two learn to stand up for themselves through Godzilla.
All Monsters Attack takes away from the fun and monstrous elements of Minilla’s character. The film also reduces Godzilla’s storyline to offer too much screen time to Ichiro. By straying too far from the Japanese franchise’s anti-war tones , All Monsters Attack is one of the least enjoyable Godzilla films.
36 Godzilla: City On The Edge Of Battle (2018)
Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle sidelines Godzilla to focus on its human characters. Harou slowly gets his bearings on a new Earth and makes allies to help fight against Godzilla. However, Godzilla is too overpowered.
RELATED: 10 Sci-Fi Movies That Ruined The Genre
City on the Edge of Battle didn't use Godzilla enough, as it only served as a backdrop to Harou’s dull adventures. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle teases powerful classics like Ghidorah and Mechagodzilla, but it doesn't deliver any epic showdown. As a result, it serves as a filler movie more than anything else.
35 Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
The animated trilogy concludes with Godzilla: The Planet Eater . In it, Ghidorah must battle Godzilla, but the movie reveals Ghidorah is an even bigger threat to Earth. As Harou tries desperately to preserve Earth, he realizes it will take a large sacrifice to do so.
Godzilla: The Planet Eater is full of Godzilla lore, but loses those Easter eggs in a confusing plot. The movie has action and high stakes but focuses more on Harou’s journey than the titular monster. Godzilla: The Planet Eater is a visual treat for animation fans, but it fails to make an impression as a Godzilla film.
34 Ebirah, Horror Of The Deep/Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster (1966)
After a monstrous lobster terrorizes a group of shipwrecked friends, they enlist the help of Godzilla in Ebirah, Horror of the Deep . Godzilla accidentally sets off a ticking bomb in the ensuing battle, which will destroy the islanders unless Mothra can save them all.
Horror of the Deep shows how Godzilla balances its protective and destructive nature. It also succeeds by including new monsters, Ebirah and Ookondoru, while bringing back a fan-favorite, Mothra. However, Ebirah, Horror of the Deep's forgettable plot line and Ebirah’s weak monster threat make it less memorable than others.
33 Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus (2000)
Godzilla goes up against various threats in Godzilla vs. Megaguirus , from the Meganulon larvae to Japan’s G-Graspers to a black hole from the Dimension Tide. However, its biggest showdown is against Megaguirus, the giant Meganulon Queen that spawns slowly throughout the film.
Godzilla vs. Megaguirus has all the trademark elements of the Godzilla franchise but is just too ambitious. The film also has an overstuffed and hard-to-follow narrative. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus’ complexity shifts its over-the-top nature from fun to exhausting.
32 Godzilla: Planet Of The Monsters/Godzilla: Monster Planet (2017)
Godzilla finally takes over Earth and forces humanity out in Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters . Young Harou convinces the human survivors to go back and fight Godzilla but fails to win against the giant creature.
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters has a great premise, but it doesn't deliver. Its underwritten narrative and forgettable characters are its biggest downfalls. However, the film’s final plot twist and beautiful animation redeem it slightly. Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters ’ experimental approach makes it refreshing, but it arrives too late in the franchise to leave a lasting impact.
31 Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S (2003)
Godzilla, Mothra, and Kiryu (the Mechagodzilla) return in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S . After Mothra’s Shobijin warn the government of using Kiryu, Mothra returns to take its place against Godzilla. However, Godzilla proves to be too strong, and it takes a joint effort to defeat the monster.
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S contains all the usual action and team-ups of the Godzilla franchise. However, the film fails to present any engaging human plot to balance its frenzy of monsters. Instead, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S ’s most interesting moment is the final shot, which sets up its sequel.
30 Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973)
In Godzilla vs. Megalon , Megalon must destroy Earth’s surface world as a new set of nuclear tests destroys the underwater world of Seatopia. Godzilla, joined by the Jet Jaguar the robot, fights against Megalon and the returning Gigan.
Megalon’s emergence furthers the franchise’s idea of monsters being manmade, but Godzilla vs. Megalon ’s lighthearted approach detracts from that important central theme. The film also focuses more on Jet Jaguar’s morality than Godzilla’s character development from humanity’s biggest foe to a reliable friend.
29 Godzilla (1998)
The 1998 Godzilla movie follows the spawning and subsequent destruction of the titular monster in New York City. The American reboot also amplifies Godzilla’s threat through its many eggs. Luckily, their threat is (almost) completely neutralized by the end.
However, the reboot takes itself too seriously and fails to recreate the charm of its original Godzilla movies. The film’s over-ambitious plot, muddled origin story, and failed recreation of the beloved creature prevent its success. However, Godzilla did introduce a new international generation to the great franchise.
28 Terror Of Mechagodzilla (1975)
The robotic Godzilla imposter returns in Terror of Mechagodzilla . This time, Mechagodzilla 2.0 teams up with Titanosaurus to give Godzilla a worthy threat. Outside of the three central monsters, the film's plot revolves around yet another alien race trying to wipe out humanity.
RELATED: 10 Kaiju Movies To Watch Before Godzilla Vs. Kong
Terror of Mechagodzilla ’s antagonistic monsters are less menacing than in prior installments, and audiences grew tired of the constant plot twists. Terror of Mechagodzilla succeeds as a sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla , but fails to stand on its own footing within the franchise.
27 Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019)
Godzilla returns with many other monsters in Godzilla: King of the Monsters . The film follows a group of people who awkwen ancient creatures (renamed “Titans”) in the hopes of rectifying humanity’s destruction of Earth. When things go awry, Godzilla helps out.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters lacks a cohesive and engaging plot, as it prioritized cinematography over storytelling. The film’s visual shots and the return of kaiju creatures like Mothra and Ghidorah are enjoyable, but Godzilla: King of the Monsters is considerably less fun and gripping than the franchise’s beloved classics.
26 Godzilla Vs. Mothra (1992)
Godzilla battles two moth deities in Godzilla vs. Mothra . This time, Godzilla must fight both Mothra and her nemesis-turned-ally Battra. While Battra and Mothra are initially at odds due to Battra’s grudges against humanity, the two ultimately unite to defeat the larger threat of Godzilla.
Godzilla vs. Mothra does well by introducing new lore into the universe. However, the disconnected subplot, Battra’s switching alliances, and Godzilla’s defeat make the movie less entertaining than others.
25 Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla/Godzilla Vs. Bionic Monster (1974)
Godzilla goes up against a rampaging imposter in Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla . Mechagodzilla is put on Earth by a strange ape-like alien race seeking to conquer it. Godzilla joins forces with a new guardian monster, King Caesar, to defeat the robotic super monster.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla follows the franchise’s usual narrative and features fun special effects with great new character introductions. However, the "Third Planet of the Black Hole" plot feels too similar to other franchises, like Planet of the Apes , for this movie to stand out on its own merit.
24 Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (1956)
The original Godzilla was re-edited and released in America as Godzilla: King of the Monsters . The film still takes place in Japan, but is now led by Raymond Burr’s reporter role. Much of the original plot is the same, but Burr’s Steve Martin is present in the narrative at various points.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters ’ American lens heavily distorts Godzilla’s impact. The important war themes and the heart of the original get lost in the heavy edits. Godzilla: King of the Monsters helped pave Godzilla’s success abroad, but it fails to adequately translate the brilliance of the the ever-popular 1954 Godzilla .
23 Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
The Godzilla franchise turns to time travel in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah . In the 2200s, a group called the Futurians feel intimidated by Japan’s economic prowess. To prevent Japan’s rise in power, they travel back in time to stop Godzilla’s creation and create King Ghidorah instead.
RELATED: 10 Most Disappointing Sci-Fi Movie Remakes
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is more visually appealing than prior installments, but its heavy political undertones take away from its international appeal. The film also feels too rushed with its stuffed narrative, a stark contrast to traditional Godzilla films. The redeeming factor of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is that it proves Godzilla’s inevitable rise to power.
22 Godzilla Vs. Gigan/Godzilla On Monster Island (1972)
Former foes Godzilla and Anguirus team up against otherworldly forces in Godzilla Vs. Gigan . Seeking to colonize Earth, insect-resembling aliens plot to pit Ghidorah and newcomer Gigan against humanity. Luckily, Godzilla and Anguirus are able to stop them.
Godzilla vs. Gigan thrives by showcasing both Godzilla’s heroic nature toward its human allies while also depicting its ruthlessness toward its foes. The film’s formulaic plot makes it less noteworthy than other Godzilla films, but the final showdown between Gigan and Ghidorah, and Anguirus and Godzilla proves to be one of the best doubles matches in the franchise.
21 Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla 2 (1993)
Godzilla meets its own robotic match in Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla 2. Unlike the prequels, humans specifically created this reboot version of Mechagodzilla to ward off Godzilla’s building threat against humanity.
RELATED: The 10 Best Long-Running Movie Franchises
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2 brings back some original Godzilla favorites, such as Ronan, Mechagodzilla, and Baby Godzilla. The film also emphasizes Godzilla’s softer side as a parent, which brought the nostalgic value of Godzilla’s earlier iterations. The soundtrack is also exceptional, elevating Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla 2 's ranking among the others.
20 Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
Following the events of the first film, Godzilla Raids Again sees the titular monster spawn again. This time, another beastly foe - Anguirus - accompanies Godzilla. While the overarching plot is almost too similar to the first Godzilla , the film's addition of another giant beast effectively displays Godzilla’s prominence through epic fight scenes.
However, Godzilla Raids Again offers a more one-dimensional story compared to others in the franchise. The first Godzilla highlighted the impacts of nuclear warfare , but the sequel takes a much lighter approach. Honing in on Godzilla’s dominance allows Godzilla Raids Again to succeed as a monster film, but limits its emotional impact.
19 Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (2002)
Godzilla’s cyborg form returns in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla . This time, Mechagodzilla - aka Kiryu - is made directly from the very first Godzilla’s skeleton. A young woman, Akane, redeems her past failure against Godzilla by defeating him as Kiryu in the climax.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla has a fun yet heartwarming plot at its core. Akane’s character development and bravery offer an empowering role model for younger fans to look up to. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla ’s powerful fight scenes between real and manmade Godzilla also help make it one of the franchise’s better late installments.
18 Son Of Godzilla (1967)
Godzilla takes on a parental role in Son of Godzilla . Godzilla rushes to help the baby as it hatches from the egg. The film follows Godzilla’s parenting adventures as it strives to protect little Minilla against humans and new monsters, the giant insect Kamacuras and Kumonga.
RELATED: 10 Godzilla Comics As Good As The Movies
Son of Godzilla has a more self-contained narrative that showcases a softer and more humorous side to Godzilla than in other installments. While the film doesn’t have the epic fight scenes inherent to the Godzilla franchise, it furthers the monster's legacy by introducing young Minilla.
The 10 Best Godzilla Movies
'wreckin cities since 1954, we ranked the godzilla movies..
Godzilla has been wrecking cities and saving humanity (depending on how he feels) since 1954.
In the realm of movie monsters, there's no one bigger--literally--and with Godzilla Minus One on the march, it's the perfect time to look back at some of the biggest and best films the monster also known as Gojira has to offer. So IGN's Godzilla super-fans put our heads together and came up with our definitive ranking of the 10 best Godzilla movies, from the 1954 original to some of the most recent entries in the canon.
ALSO SEE: Godzilla Movies in Order
Whether you're a Godzilla die-hard with a ranking of your own or a newbie to the Japanese genre icon who wants to know where to start with the King of the Monsters, this list is for you.
10. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
We all come to Godzilla movies looking for one thing before all others: monster mash madness. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah certainly delivers on that front. Like pretty much all movies in the franchise there's also a little ecological bent as Godzilla transforms into the ultra sick Burning Godzilla due to an explosion of Uranium. He's not the only creature who's been transformed by the mistakes of humans though, as Destoroyah is made up of mutated crustaceans who were changed by the Oxygen Destroyer used in the original Godzilla movie. Basically, humans are bad but cool monsters fighting each other is good, and this is a great example of both!
9. Godzilla 2000 (1999)
Sparking off Godzilla's Millennium era, this is a sci-fi soft reboot that acts as a sequel to the original movie. Though it erases all other continuity, it definitely owes a debt to Invasion of Astro-Monster as the titular terror faces down against an ancient UFO. A great example of just how well Godzilla movies age, this is still a total riot and looks awesome despite being over 20 years old. And pre-Shin Godzilla, this is definitely one of the monster's most fearsome iterations.
8. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
One of the most fun movies in Godzilla canon, Final Wars sets up the ultimate global smackdown. When the Xiliens teleport all monsters into space to "protect Earth," suspicions are rightfully sparked. And what begins as an interplanetary peace treaty turns into an all-out kaiju battle royale. This flick also features one of the most hilarious meta-moments of any Godzilla film when the original creature is pitted against "Zilla," the CGI creation from Hollywood's 1998 movie. The real deal quickly dispatches him, utilizing the spiked domes of the Sydney Opera House. We believe that's called justice.
7. Destroy All Monsters (1968)
If you're looking for some all-out monster madness then look no further. Despite the fact that the film establishes a status quo where all the monsters have been captured and secluded on the so-called Monsterland, the creatures get unleashed on the previously peaceful world thanks to some extra-terrestrial shenanigans. Destroy All Monsters features some of Toho's most famed kaiju, including Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Rodan, Mothra, Anguirus, and even Godzilla's cute chill baby named Minilla! So come one, come all, for some seriously awesome kaiju action.
6. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
This fantastical entry in Godzilla canon rewrites the history of the creature, instead imagining that he was a dinosaur discovered by WWII soldiers and mutated by radiation. And that's not even the wildest part of this time travel-heavy entry which takes place over multiple years as humans reckon with the impact of Godzilla and his monstrous friends. Harking back to the anti-nuclear messaging of the original, this is a mashup of both the moral storytelling which inspired Godzilla and the popular science fiction and fantasy movies that were shaping cinema at the time.
5. Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)
If Godzilla is King of the Monsters, then Mothra is undoubtedly the queen. While her debut in the '60s is a classic, we adore this '90s entry in the series. Harking back to the older eras of the franchise, this is family-focused fun that centers on Mothra and an ancient creature known as Battra as the pair must team up to defeat Godzilla. This is a great example of the adventurous spirit at the heart of some of the best Godzilla movies and showcases the power of Mothra at her best.
4. Shin Godzilla (2016)
This dark reimagining and soft reboot of the classic Godzilla story is the most obviously horror-influenced and is all the more effective for it. It would likely be a little higher up on our list if it wasn't for the fact that this was the first Japanese Godzilla movie to replace suits with CGI. While it makes for a scarier monster, it's missing a little of that iconic, cheesy charm. Story-wise though this is a great bit of social satire taking aim at bumbling bureaucracy and the Japanese government that struggles to deal with the horrific creature before them.
3. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
Mechagodzilla might be one of the coolest movie monsters of all time, and certainly one of Toho's most iconic creature designs. So how could we not have this awesome entry in our top three? When Godzilla goes on a rampage attacking small villages and his own monstrous allies, the world is thrown into terror. But *spoiler alert* it's actually a robot version of Godzilla known as Mechagodzilla. Of course, the real Godzilla has to battle his new foe, and so one of the great Godzilla antagonists was born.
2. Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
While all Godzilla movies are science fiction, none lean in as hard as the sixth entry in the franchise. This is a truly wild deep space adventure as we meet the humanoid aliens known as the Xiliens. It's amazing to see how much the Godzilla series shifted in just a decade, but this is such a fun movie it's hard for it to not be one of our faves. Without spoiling its secrets, just know you get Godzilla, Rodan, and Ghidorah as well as plenty of interplanetary war and politics.
1. Godzilla (1954)
It's hard to overstate the impact of this stunning black and white sci-fi masterpiece. While many of the other movies on our list are over the top or even campy, the original Godzilla is a pared-back parable about the dangers of nuclear power. Not only is it beautifully shot and impeccably well told, but it's a moving and thoughtful feature that is surprisingly somber. If you want to really know what Godzilla is all about, then make sure to check out the original Japanese cut of the 1954 monster movie. This is the kind of searing sci-fi we could all use more of. And aside from all of its gravitas and greatness, it introduced us to Godzilla, one of the greatest movie monsters of all time.
What's your Top 10 Best Godzilla Movies list look like? Let's discuss in the comments!
This list originally ran in February, 2021. It was upated with the latest information on Oct. 27, 2023.
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1. Godzilla (1954)
Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
American nuclear-weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.
Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Takashi Shimura , Akihiko Hirata , Akira Takarada , Momoko Kôchi
Votes: 37,186 | Gross: $2.42M
2. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Not Rated | 105 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
A reporter, notorious for working on pseudo-documentaries, must uncover the legend of the three guardian monsters who must rise to defend Japan from the vengeful spirits within Godzilla.
Director: Shûsuke Kaneko | Stars: Chiharu Niiyama , Ryûdô Uzaki , Masahiro Kobayashi , Shirô Sano
3. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
G | 84 min | Action, Adventure, Family
An Okinawan prophecy appears to foretell Earth's destruction at the hands of Godzilla, only for the true Godzilla to reveal his doppelganger as a mechanical alien weapon.
Director: Jun Fukuda | Stars: Masaaki Daimon , Kazuya Aoyama , Reiko Tajima , Akihiko Hirata
4. Godzilla Minus One (2023)
PG-13 | 124 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Post war Japan is at its lowest point when a new crisis emerges in the form of a giant monster, baptized in the horrific power of the atomic bomb.
Director: Takashi Yamazaki | Stars: Minami Hamabe , Ryunosuke Kamiki , Sakura Ando , Kuranosuke Sasaki
5. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
Not Rated | 100 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
Time travelers use Godzilla in their scheme to destroy Japan to prevent the country's future economic reign.
Directors: Kazuki Ômori , Koji Hashimoto , Katsumune Ishida | Stars: Kôsuke Toyohara , Anna Nakagawa , Megumi Odaka , Katsuhiko Sasaki
6. Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002)
Not Rated | 88 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A new Godzilla causes the JSDF to construct a cyborg countermeasure from the original monster's remains. The beast's restless soul is discovered to inhabit the machine as the pilot must learn to find value in her own life.
Directors: Masaaki Tezuka , Katsumune Ishida , Kazuki Ômori | Stars: Yumiko Shaku , Shin Takuma , Kana Onodera , Kô Takasugi
7. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
PG | 104 min | Action, Fantasy, Horror
Desolate by the loss of his daughter, a geneticist creates a monstrous new mutation.
Directors: Kazuki Ômori , Koji Hashimoto , Kenjirô Ohmori | Stars: Kunihiko Mitamura , Yoshiko Tanaka , Masanobu Takashima , Kôji Takahashi
8. Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
G | 79 min | Action, Adventure, Family
Attempts to salvage Mechagodzilla are thwarted, causing an INTERPOL investigation that uncovers the work of a shunned biologist and his daughter, who's life becomes entwined with the resurrected machine.
Directors: Ishirô Honda , Jun Fukuda | Stars: Katsuhiko Sasaki , Tomoko Ai , Akihiko Hirata , Katsumasa Uchida
9. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
Unrated | 103 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
The aftermath of the Oxygen Destroyer brings forth Destoroyah, a beast intent on killing Godzilla, who is on the verge of a nuclear meltdown.
Directors: Takao Okawara , Ishirô Honda , Koji Hashimoto , Shûe Matsubayashi , Kenshô Yamashita , Kazuki Ômori | Stars: Takurô Tatsumi , Yôko Ishino , Yasufumi Hayashi , Megumi Odaka
10. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Not Rated | 85 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
A detective is assigned to protect a princess who prophecies the Earth's end with the arrival of a powerful space monster. Mothra and her fairies must persuade Godzilla and Rodan to set aside their differences or face the invader alone.
Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Yôsuke Natsuki , Yuriko Hoshi , Hiroshi Koizumi , Akiko Wakabayashi
11. Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
PG | 85 min | Animation, Action, Family
An ever-evolving alien life form from the Dark Gaseous Nebula arrives to consume rampant pollution. Spewing mists of sulfuric acid and corrosive sludge, neither humanity or Godzilla may be able to defeat this toxic menace.
Directors: Yoshimitsu Banno , Ishirô Honda | Stars: Akira Yamanouchi , Toshie Kimura , Hiroyuki Kawase , Toshio Shiba
12. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963)
Not Rated | 91 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
A UN reporter broadcasts a report on the appearance of a prehistoric monster that emerges from hibernation while a pharmaceutical company seeks publicity with a monster of their own. (US Version)
Directors: Ishirô Honda , Tom Montgomery | Stars: Tadao Takashima , Kenji Sahara , Yû Fujiki , Michael Keith
Votes: 10,911 | Gross: $2.73M
13. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
PG | 105 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
The United Nations assembles the ultimate weapon to defeat Godzilla, while scientists discover a fresh pteranodon egg on a remote Japanese island.
Directors: Takao Okawara , Kazuki Ômori | Stars: Masahiro Takashima , Ryoko Sano , Megumi Odaka , Yûsuke Kawazu
14. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
Not Rated | 89 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Mothra's egg washes ashore and is claimed by greedy entrepreneurs who refuse to return it to her fairies. As Godzilla arises near Nagoya, the people of Infant Island must decide if they are willing to answer Japan's own pleas for help.
Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Akira Takarada , Yuriko Hoshi , Hiroshi Koizumi , Yû Fujiki
15. Shin Godzilla (2016)
Not Rated | 120 min | Action, Drama, Horror
Japan is plunged into chaos upon the appearance of a giant monster.
Directors: Hideaki Anno , Shinji Higuchi | Stars: Hiroki Hasegawa , Yutaka Takenouchi , Satomi Ishihara , Ren Ôsugi
Votes: 31,926 | Gross: $1.92M
16. Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
G | 93 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Astronauts investigate Planet X and encounter the Xiliens, who ask Earth's people to help save their world from "Monster Zero". As one astronaut forms a romance with a mysterious woman, he uncovers the Xilien's true intentions.
Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Nick Adams , Akira Takarada , Jun Tazaki , Akira Kubo
17. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.
Director: Michael Dougherty | Stars: Kyle Chandler , Vera Farmiga , Millie Bobby Brown , Ken Watanabe
Votes: 197,580 | Gross: $110.50M
18. Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
G | 78 min | Action, Adventure, Family
An inventor creates a humanoid robot named Jet Jaguar that is seized by the undersea nation of Seatopia. Using Jet Jaguar as a guide, the Seatopians send Megalon as vengeance for the nuclear tests that have devastated their society.
Directors: Jun Fukuda , Yoshimitsu Banno , Ishirô Honda | Stars: Katsuhiko Sasaki , Hiroyuki Kawase , Yutaka Hayashi , Robert Dunham
19. Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
PG-13 | 113 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against each other--the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong--with humanity caught in the balance.
Director: Adam Wingard | Stars: Alexander Skarsgård , Millie Bobby Brown , Rebecca Hall , Brian Tyree Henry
Votes: 228,968 | Gross: $100.92M
20. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966)
PG | 83 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
A young man searching for his brother steals a boat that shipwrecks on Letchi island, where terrorists have enslaved the Infant Island natives. Discovering Godzilla asleep, he and some others decide to awaken him to liberate the natives.
Director: Jun Fukuda | Stars: Akira Takarada , Kumi Mizuno , Chôtarô Tôgin , Hideo Sunazuka
21. Godzilla 1985 (1985)
PG | 87 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Thirty years after the original monster's rampage, a new Godzilla emerges and attacks Japan.
Directors: Koji Hashimoto , R.J. Kizer , Ishirô Honda , Toshio Masuda , Shûe Matsubayashi , Shirô Moritani | Stars: Raymond Burr , Keiju Kobayashi , Ken Tanaka , Yasuko Sawaguchi
Votes: 6,694 | Gross: $4.12M
22. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)
PG | 91 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Mothra and her fairies return to Japan to warn mankind that they must return Kiryu to the sea, for the dead must not be disturbed. However Godzilla has survived to menace Japan leaving Kiryu as the nation's only defense.
Directors: Masaaki Tezuka , Koji Hashimoto , Takao Okawara , Kazuki Ômori | Stars: Noboru Kaneko , Miho Yoshioka , Mickey Koga , Hiroshi Koizumi
23. Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
Not Rated | 106 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Godzilla is threatened by two new forces: Mogera - another UN built machine; and Space Godzilla - a beast spawned from Godzilla's particles in space.
Directors: Kenshô Yamashita , Takao Okawara , Kazuki Ômori | Stars: Jun Hashizume , Megumi Odaka , Zenkichi Yoneyama , Akira Nakao
24. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
PG-13 | 125 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Godzilla's fiftieth Anniversary project, in which Godzilla travels around the world to fight his old foes and his allies plus a new, mysterious monster named Monster X.
Directors: Ryûhei Kitamura , Koji Hashimoto , Shûsuke Kaneko , Toshio Masuda , Takao Okawara , Masaaki Tezuka , Kenshô Yamashita , Kazuki Ômori | Stars: Masahiro Matsuoka , Rei Kikukawa , Don Frye , Maki Mizuno
25. Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth (1992)
Not Rated | 100 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Japan is caught in the middle of a three way battle between Godzilla, the divine Mothra, and her dark counterpart Battra.
Director: Takao Okawara | Stars: Tetsuya Bessho , Satomi Kobayashi , Takehiro Murata , Saburô Shinoda
26. Godzilla (2014)
PG-13 | 123 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
The world is beset by the appearance of monstrous creatures, but one of them may be the only one who can save humanity.
Director: Gareth Edwards | Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson , Elizabeth Olsen , Bryan Cranston , Ken Watanabe
Votes: 431,004 | Gross: $200.68M
27. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
Not Rated | 105 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Japan creates an artificial black hole device to trap Godzilla forever, but a test of the device creates new foes for Godzilla, car-sized dragonflies called meganula and their queen, Megaguirus.
Directors: Masaaki Tezuka , Ishirô Honda | Stars: Misato Tanaka , Shôsuke Tanihara , Masatô Ibu , Yuriko Hoshi
28. Destroy All Monsters (1968)
G | 88 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
At the end of the 20th century, all of Earth's monsters have been safely rounded up and sent to Monsterland for scientific study. Chaos erupts when a race of she-aliens known as the Kilaaks unleashes the monsters on the world.
Directors: Ishirô Honda , Jun Fukuda | Stars: Akira Kubo , Jun Tazaki , Yukiko Kobayashi , Yoshio Tsuchiya
29. Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
Approved | 78 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
Fishing scout-pilots are startled to discover a new monster named Anguirus alongside a second Godzilla. The monsters make their way towards Osaka as Japan can only brace for tragedy and relive the horror of Godzilla once more.
Directors: Motoyoshi Oda , Ishirô Honda | Stars: Hiroshi Koizumi , Setsuko Wakayama , Minoru Chiaki , Takashi Shimura
30. Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)
PG | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
An independent group of researchers actively track Godzilla as a giant meteor is discovered. The mysterious rock begins to levitate as its true intentions for the world and Godzilla are revealed.
Director: Takao Okawara | Stars: Takehiro Murata , Hiroshi Abe , Naomi Nishida , Mayu Suzuki
Votes: 8,891 | Gross: $10.04M
31. Son of Godzilla (1967)
PG | 84 min | Adventure, Comedy, Family
A reporter stumbles upon weather experiments on a tropical island, discovering giant mantids, a cast away woman, and an infant monster that Godzilla must adopt and learn to raise as one of his own.
Director: Jun Fukuda | Stars: Tadao Takashima , Akira Kubo , Bibari Maeda , Akihiko Hirata
32. Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
PG | 89 min | Action, Adventure, Family
A manga artist becomes suspicious of his employers when a garbled message is discovered on tape. As he forms a team to investigate, Godzilla and Anguirus set out to help defeat the invaders.
Directors: Jun Fukuda , Yoshimitsu Banno , Ishirô Honda , Shûe Matsubayashi | Stars: Hiroshi Ishikawa , Yuriko Hishimi , Minoru Takashima , Tomoko Umeda
33. All Monsters Attack (1969)
G | 70 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy
A latchkey child living in the industrial city of Kawasaki confronts his loneliness through his escapist dreams of Monster Island and friendship with Minilla.
Directors: Ishirô Honda , Jun Fukuda , Kengo Furusawa | Stars: Kenji Sahara , Machiko Naka , Tomonori Yazaki , Hideyo Amamoto
34. Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017)
TV-14 | 89 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
A desperate group of refugees attempts to recolonize Earth 20,000 years after Godzilla took over, but one young man wants revenge above all else.
Directors: Hiroyuki Seshita , Kôbun Shizuno | Stars: Mamoru Miyano , Takahiro Sakurai , Kana Hanazawa , Tomokazu Sugita
35. Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
TV-14 | 91 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
Humanity, their alien allies, and Godzilla all enter their endgame as the powerful destructive entity known as Ghidorah arrives on Earth.
36. Godzilla (I) (1998)
PG-13 | 139 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
French nuclear tests irradiate an iguana into a giant monster that heads off to New York City. The American military must chase the monster across the city to stop it before it reproduces.
Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Matthew Broderick , Jean Reno , Maria Pitillo , Hank Azaria
Votes: 200,254 | Gross: $136.31M
37. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)
TV-14 | 101 min | Animation, Action, Adventure
Humanity's desperate battle to reclaim the Earth from Godzilla continues. The key to defeating the King of the Monsters may be Mechagodzilla, a robotic weapon thought to have been lost nearly 20,000 years ago.
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