This week, King Kong makes his triumphant return to the screen in Kong: Skull Island. Along with 2014's Godzilla, these two monsters of cinema are the building blocks for the MonsterVerse. Off to a massive start, there are already plans for Godzilla 2 and Godzilla vs King Kong. It's actually a pretty unique idea for a shared universe. Instead of superheroes or heroes, it focuses on the monsters and there is no better place to find movie monsters than the Toho kaiju.
Founded in 1932, Toho has become one of the most recognizable Japanese film distribution companies in the US thanks to #Godzilla and the rest of their giant monster (a.k.a. kaiju) fare. Since then, they have built up a roster of monsters just as legendary as the Universal Monsters. That said, they all aren't all winners. With over 50 years of kaiju movies there were bound to be some stinkers. So, before the MonsterVerse goes into full swing let’s look at 10 kaiju who are best left in Japan.
- Appearance: Frankenstein Conquers the World
- Powers: Immortality, Advanced healing factor
When the immortal heart of Frankenstein's Monster is blasted with radiation at Hiroshima he grows up to become a feral boy that grows as he eats. Ignoring any possible copyright issues, the character just seems too weird for American audiences. Plus, I'm just not sure if America is quite ready to see Godzilla fry a teenager with his atomic breath.
- Appearance: Son of Godzilla
- Powers: Atomic smoke rings, Psychically teach kids about bullying
Godzilla has had a lot of kids over the years and I can't say any of them have been good. Hatching from an egg on Monster Island, Minilla would go on to follow Godzilla around and look like burnt charcoal. He can't even breathe fire, just smoke rings. On the plus side, Minilla taught a kid about bullying in All Monsters Attack so at least he isn't an awful person.
- Appearance: The Godzilla Power Hour
- Powers: Breathes smoke, Can call Godzilla
Godzilla's other major kid kaiju was Godzooky. Created for 1978's The Godzilla Power Hour, Godzilla's nephew is somehow worse than Minilla. Like Minilla, his powers are quite limited. Aside from also being able to blow smoke, Godzooky's only other power can call Godzilla for help. That's right — his main power is calling for backup. Needless to say there's not much nostalgia for Godzilla's version of Scrappy Doo.
7. Giant Condor
- Appearance: Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
- Powers: The powers of a condor
Giant animals in a monster movie are common. Heck, they are pretty much the foundation of the genre. In a kaiju movie, however, that isn't enough. Case in point, the giant condor in Godzilla vs the Sea Monster. Not even given a proper name, it has all the powers of a normal bird, which are basically flying and scratching. The fight in the film (if it can even be called that) goes for about a minute or two and it's easy to understand why.
- Appearance: Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster
- Powers: Is a giant crab
What's worse than simply being a giant monster? Being a giant monster who doesn't move much. A giant lobster Ebirah's only real powers are being a giant lobster. And yes, that includes needing to be near water. Sitting in waist-deep water, Ebirah's biggest move is swatting a rock back at Godzilla. Perhaps it's just me, but you need a little more than that to be a good opponent for the King of the Monsters.
- Appearance: Destroy All Monsters
- Powers: A sweet jump kick
While an integral part of beating Ghidorah in Destroy All Monsters, I can't help but be underwhelmed by Gorosaurus. This is a world with three-headed monsters from space and lizards that can breathe fire. Dinosaurs will always be cool, but Gorosaurus just feels a bit bland in comparison. On the plus side, Gorosaurus has Liu Kang-esque jump kick, which is delightfully ridiculous.
- Appearance: Godzilla (1998)
- Powers: Fire breath, burrowing
Introduced in 1998's disastrous Godzilla remake, Zilla had a rough time from the get go. All things considered, Zilla isn't a bad kaiju with a unique look and has some decent powers. It's just that after all the hype the movie was a major letdown. Things aren't helped when Zilla makes an appearance in Godzilla: Final Wars and is beaten in just under a minute.
- Appearance: All Monsters Attack
- Powers: Electricity powers
Appearing in what is widely regarded as the worst Godzilla movie, Gabara is a bit all over the place. Looking like some sort of cat with a horrible disease, Gabara is more pathetic than anything else. Its beef isn't with Godzilla. No, apparently Gabara was created as a monster to bully Minilla. When Minilla can call for Godzilla the two go to town on this awful monster before appearing on tokusatsu shows like Go! Greenman.
2. Jet Jaguar
- First Appearance: Godzilla vs. Megalon
- Powers: Change size, flying, spotlights for eyes
One of the first robotic kaiju, Jet Jaguar is a weird one to judge. On the one hand, he is used quite effectively as an ally for Godzilla in Godzilla vs Megalon. On the other, he is an absolute knock-off of Japanese superhero Ultraman. From the look to the powers it's all just too like Ultraman. While that may be OK for the US audience, I can see Tsuburaya Productions's lawyers thinking otherwise. At least we got the amazing Jet Jaguar theme song.
1. Charles Barkley
- Appearance: 1992 Nike Commercial
- Powers: 23,757 points (22.1 ppg), 12,546 rebounds (11.7 rpg)
Yes this really happened. Debuting during the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards this Nike commercial featured Sir Charles going up against Godzilla in a game of one-on-one. Using the 'O' in a Tokyo sign as a hoop Barkley knocks over the King of the Monsters for a big slam dunk. As crazy as it sounds it's a fun commercial. He was last seen having his basketball skills stolen by the Monstars so they could take on the Looney Tunes in some sort of Space Jam.
King Of The Monsters
While Godzilla may have been the first film, Kong: Skull Island feels like the inauguration of the MonsterVerse. With rumors of hints teaser for the new Godzilla vs King Kong movie, it finally feels like the pieces are falling together for these classic movie monsters. With the cinematic universe expanding, here's hoping they don't bring back some of these duds.
What kaiju do you like? Did I miss any particularly silly monsters? Let me know in the comments below!