This week finally saw the release of the much-anticipated Godzilla vs Kong on HBO Max; an epic cinematic battle between two humongous ancient beasts, not the story of a famously acrimonious custody trial like some other similarly-titled programs on the same streaming service. It’s no secret that America doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to Godzilla movies; of course there was the godawful 1998 remake starring Matthew Broderick, Hank Azaria, and oddly, two Siskel and Ebert lookalikes. And then in 2014, the current continuity began with Gareth Evans’ Godzilla starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as a married couple -- which quickly became retroactively gross thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But we’d argue that the best American take on Godzilla can still be found in a friggin’ sneaker commercial. Back in 1992, Nike pitted Charles Barkley against the King of the Monsters for a game of one-on-one in the streets of Tokyo. Why is the former NBA champ suddenly the size of a skyscraper? Sadly this nagging question is never answered. In the end, Barkley wins -- the implication being that it’s because of his sweet Nikes, not because he’s a professional athlete playing against a literal wild animal with dinosaur arms.
Unlike those later U.S. Godzillas, the commercial utilized traditional "suitmation" effects, elaborately produced by Industrial Light & Magic, the same people who convinced us that the Millennium Falcon could fly and that alien ducks are sometimes horny.
Amazingly, the spot was so popular that it inspired a comic book appropriately titled Godzilla vs. Barkley. The comic finds Charles Barkley enlarging himself thanks to a magical silver dollar gifted to him by a random child and challenging the rampaging Godzilla to a game of basketball instead of just capturing or killing him.
In the end, Barkley wins and just leaves Godzilla alone in a "remote canyon" with a giant basketball hoop to play with, thus solving all of humanity's problems apparently.
We'd argue that this iteration of Godzilla borders on iconic, and at the very least, the Nike ad is way better than that commercial in which Godzilla uses a giant can of Dr. Pepper to get laid.
Top Image: Dark Horse Comics