Making a Godzilla movie seems pretty simple, right? You put someone in a big lizard costume (or make one out of CGI), and you set it loose among a bunch of buildings. And if you're feeling frisky, maybe you add in another ludicrous monster and call it something like Godzilla vs. MechaDongurus or whatever. But what you might not know is that in the 65 years that he's been around, Godzilla has amassed a grand assortment of legends, near-deaths, and bizarre happenings. This simple franchise attracts crazy like nobody's business.
About once in every Godzilla movie, there's a moment when the titular monster rises from the sea. It's a very dramatic, iconic shot that nearly killed the stuntmen every time they did it.
The problem is that unless you can deadlift roughly an entire pool, you probably won't be able to come out of water fast enough or Godzilla-y enough for it to look good on film (the suit weighed over 200 pounds even before it was soaked in water). So Godzilla actors had to be raised up by crane or pulled up by cart while using a little breathing apparatus to ensure a comfy, non-dying position.
The problem here was two-fold: 1) They had to pull them up fast, before they ran out of air and drowned, and 2) They couldn't pull them up too fast, because otherwise the breathing apparatus would be ripped out of their mouths and they'd drown from that instead.
But worse than drowning? Godzilla actors are pretty sure that people peed in the pool that they used to simulate the ocean. And since the Godzilla costume tended to soak up an obscene amount of liquid (whether it be water or sweat or otherwise), every time you see Godzilla, you're looking at several gallons of walking piss.
Playing Godzilla seems like it would be a dream role, as you get to swat toy cars and step on little buildings and basically exist as a fire-breathing four-year-old all day. But it was an enormously laborious gig. If the actor fell over in the aforementioned pee-filled pool, they once again would risk drowning if the crew couldn't make it to them in time (again: super heavy costume). And falling over was a constant threat, since the suit only provided three tiny neck holes to look through, forcing the performer to just kinda guess where they were stomping.
And with so many intricate miniatures around their big dumb feet and tail, they'd probably end the shift with the crew literally having to untangle them from the set. This is all while swimming in their own sweat, with one actor saying he lost more than ten pounds a day in the stifling, hellish suit.
How hard is it to lose seven feet of rubber reptile? Not at all hard when every fan is determined to take the thing home so they can show it to their friends. (Or so they can stomp around on a little Lego town in their basement, or host a monster costume orgy. The possibilities really are limitless.)
In 1984, the suit from The Return Of Godzilla was stolen, forcing them to change the character's design by the time they shot the next movie. Another was stolen in 1992, before randomly turning up on a beach and scaring the shit out of an old lady. If you want to know what people thought of Godzilla in the '90s, here are some American newscasters desperately trying their non-best to take the suit disappearance seriously:
If you're a fan of Japanese Tokusatsu (the kinds of special effects that you see in stuff like Godzilla and Power Rangers), you've likely seen monsters that have a stunning resemblance to Godzilla show up in other shows. In fact, some of these monsters just look like someone took a Godzilla costume and piled stuff onto it. Well, do not let these appearances fool you, as Gomess from Ultra Q ...
United Artists Media Group
... and Jirass in Ultraman ...
United Artists Media Group
... are both products of Eiji Tsuburaya, the special effects wizard behind many of the original Godzilla films, borrowing the outfits for his own production company's shows.
But it wasn't just suits that Godzilla could be traded into, but plots too. For example, if you watch Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster and wonder why Godzilla has such a keen interest in chasing ladies around and also why his enemy is literally a goddamn lobster, that's because it was originally supposed to be King Kong in his role. See? It makes perfect sense now.
For every Godzilla that seemed haphazardly fired into theaters, there were at least two more weird unmade ones in the chamber. For example, one idea for the third Godzilla film was Bride Of Godzilla, in which a scientist builds a giant robot likeness of his foster daughter in order to fight Godzilla. After a plot that involves finding a bunch of Godzillas (and mermaids) in the middle of Earth's hollow core, Godzilla tries to fuck the giant robot, only to find out that she's a bomb. Godzilla and all the other Godzillas are killed, and the world is saved from monsters and monster boners alike.
There was also Ghost Godzilla, in which Godzilla was supposed to fight the spirit of himself. Explaining just how there are multiple Godzillas would take forever and is a process that's solely reserved for my ex-girlfriends, but basically, Godzilla would battle the spirit of the original Godzilla that got killed in 1954. Along the way, the spirit possesses multiple monsters, including Godzilla's own son, which honestly sounds better than 75% of the Exorcist sequels.
In the '60s, Batmania swept the globe. The Adam West show was a huge international success, and it happened around the same time that you could count on at least one Godzilla film coming out per year. So it was only natural that someone had the idea that has sparked such creations as Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator, and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe: What if we took these two things and made them wrestle?
In the outline, Batman and Robin travel to Japan, and soon get tangled up with a man who can control Godzilla. However, they're initially unsure that it actually IS Godzilla causing all the damage, so they watch clips from King Kong vs. Godzilla like they're pre-game football tapes. Having studied their opponent, Batman eventually manages to have a rocket built around Godzilla and blasts him off into orbit, presumably ridding the Earth of him forever. What the script doesn't include, though, is Adam West cursing at himself for an hour when he realizes that now he's the one who has to defend the world from Mothra for the next century.
Godzilla fighting Batman never made it to the filming stage of production, but Godzilla totally fought the Avengers and various other Marvel characters on paper. In a 24-issue run, Godzilla tackled the Avengers (eat shit, Thanos), the Fantastic Four, and S.H.I.E.L.D., but he mostly just dealt with whatever creature Doctor Demonicus (Dr. Doom's inept, monster-obsessed cousin) had created for him that month.
After Marvel's copyright ran out, they kept using Godzilla, albeit by changing him slightly and never referring to him by name. It's a plan that worked FAR better than it should have.
There are a few weird things in Godzilla 1985, the Americanized version of The Return Of Godzilla. First of all, they refused to call a returning character, Steve Martin, by his full name, for fear that he would be compared to the comedian, and so they refer to him as "Mr. Martin" throughout the entire damn movie. Next, just in case Ronald Reagan happened to catch it on a flight, they altered a Soviet character so that instead of trying to stop a nuclear warhead, he actually launched it.
They also made him the captain of a secret intelligence collecting mission, and the warhead exploding is what ends up reviving Godzilla. That's a pretty bold move there, considering it certainly wasn't Soviet bombs that inspired the creation of Godzilla in real life.
When I was a little kid, I used to collect a bunch of books about monsters by Ian Thorne, aptly titled "MONSTER SERIES." If you were a prepubescent horror geek who loved libraries and fucking hated that dude Derek from PE, you've likely read one about Frankenstein or King Kong or The Mummy. But my favorite, of course, was the Godzilla one, which came with this little tidbit about how in the American version of King Kong vs. Godzilla, King Kong won. But in the Japanese version, Godzilla took the gold.
This shit was gospel to me as a kid, but what I didn't know is that nearly everyone believed this, despite the fact that it was bullshit and King Kong won in both versions. It was spread by Famous Monsters Of Filmland, The Los Angeles Times, and even Trivial Pursuit, all because for a long time, it was super hard to get ahold of the Japanese version of the movie. People just ASSUMED that Godzilla would've won in Japan. Which is weird, because even in 1962, it was pretty fucking clear that Godzilla, a metaphor for the atomic bomb, was the bad guy.
For those of you who don't remember the 1998 Godzilla, you are so lucky. I dream of being you every day. But if you do, you might remember the marketing, which included giant posters that ran up the sides of skyscrapers with phrases on them like "GODZILLA IS AS TALL AS THIS BUILDING." Just in case, ya know, you needed a refresher course on the simple fact that Godzilla is goddamn big.
However, on the main poster, they included the phrase "SIZE DOES MATTER." Remember the popular saying about penises and how you use them? Well, they subverted it for this film, and tied their blockbuster to genitalia forever. Good for you, Sony Pictures. Ya couldn't have fucked that up harder.
You like "Kashmir" by Led Zeppelin? Well, what if I told you that Puff Daddy dived into it with a remix that was featured on the Godzilla soundtrack, but never once mentioned or made reference to Godzilla? And what if I told you that there was a music video about Puff Daddy lazily rapping his way through Godzilla's destruction and ending with a concert that's only attended by Godzilla? And then, what if I said that this song plays over Godzilla's ending credits, as if taunting you to immediately leave the theater? Do you still like "Kashmir"? NO!? Why?
Those who made it all the way through the 1998 Godzilla know that there is a sequel tease at the end that features a surviving Baby Godzilla popping out of its shell. Well, had that movie received at least some semblance of a positive reaction, we would've gotten another one. Knowing what we know about the planned sequel, we all dodged a bullet there.
Matthew Broderick's character (remember, the guy with a last name that no one can pronounce, that hilarious joke they felt the need to repeat multiple times?) would've found the baby, only to have it imprint on him. Awww. One question, though: Didn't they eat, like, every human that they came in contact with before?
Regardless, in order to save the baby, Broderick has to do the ol' Air Bud "GET OUT OF HERE! I DON'T WANT YOU ANYMORE!" Later, he finds the same baby, this time with a litter of its own Godzilla pups. (Don't worry about them, though. They all get violently slaughtered by the military later.) Luckily, Godzilla faces another monster. Unluckily, it is referred to constantly as "Queen Bitch," which pretty much rids Godzilla of any majesty that it might have had.
In Godzilla: Final Wars -- a truly terrible movie that most fans remember for the scene where UFC Hall of Famer Don Frye slaps an alien woman to death -- the Japanese Godzilla takes on the American Godzilla (here known as "Zilla"). But changing the name isn't the cringiest part of it. Getting back at the American remake that had come out six years earlier, they had Godzilla absolutely destroy Zilla in order to "show which Godzilla was stronger."
Afterward, the alien leader throws a tantrum and says "I KNEW THAT TUNA-EATING MONSTER WAS USELESS." Look, Godzilla movies. I love you, I really do. But shit like this makes you look like you took a break-up a little too hard. We get it, your Godzilla is awesome and the other Godzilla sucks. We saw that other Godzilla movie. That was enough.
Daniel Dockery is a writer and editor for Cracked.com. You can find him chatting about Godzilla and Godzilla accessories on Twitter.
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