The Devil works hard, but Godzilla works harder. With a career spanning over six decades and over 35 movies, Godzilla is undoubtedly one of the most in-demand action stars to date. (No word if he’ll make an appearance in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, but we digress.) Since his debut in 1954, he’s been smashing, crashing, and thrashing through buildings, enemies, and the Japanese government’s defense system, making him the legendary gold standard for the epic genre known as the creature feature. The last time we saw the roaring overlord was in 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong, but luckily, the folks over at Legendary and the Japanese movie company Toho (the originators of the franchise) have announced a series of upcoming Godzilla projects for Apple TV+, as well as a sequel to the movie. Now’s the perfect time to (re)prepare yourself and get further acquainted with all the movies this iconic pop-culture franchise has to offer.
NOTE: if you’re in a time crunch, we also have a video for Top 10 Best Godzilla movies to help you catch the important highlights of the sprawling series.
1. Godzilla (1954)
Is it an overgrown lizard? A time-traveling dinosaur? Or a lab experiment gone horribly wrong? These are just some of the questions the citizens of Tokyo, Japan have after a 164-foot sea creature rises up from the Pacific Ocean to wreak havoc on their town. The Godzilla origin story follows the sea monster’s descent into madness and mayhem after his underwater home and family are destroyed by an American hydrogen bomb that lands in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan. He’s understandably mad as hell and ready to take out his anger on anything that gets in his way.
2. Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
You’d think Godzilla would take some time off to relax at Disneyland, considering it also opened up in 1955, but alas, Godzilla has a laser-sharp focus on the island nation of Japan. In the sequel to the monster flick, Godzilla finds himself in a battle with his old enemy, an ancient fire-wielding ankylosaurus named Anguirus. The people of Japan then have to figure out how to defeat not only one, but two monsters that are determined to destroy the world and each other in the process. This movie is also the first to feature Godzilla fighting another creature, a feature which would then become the main selling point for the future of the series. The 1955 trailer showcases some of the awesome-for-its-time production design and creature stunts required to put such a movie together.
3. Godzilla: King of Monsters (1956)
A re-edited, Americanized version of the original Godzilla from 1954, this film adds approximately 21 minutes of footage that follow a fictional journalist named Steve Martin (Raymond Burr) as he documents the goings-on of the impossibly large sea creature. You can check out the American trailer for the 1956 re-telling and compare it to the original Japanese trailer from 1954. Eagle-eyed Godzilla fans might be able to spot the differences in the plot.
4. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
King Kong vs. Godzilla is a straight-up entertainment spectacular on many levels. The first time both characters were ever introduced on-screen in color, it’s one of the most popular crossover movies in history as well as one of the highest-grossing Japanese films in history. The movie centers around a money-hungry publicity man who is looking to sell more pharmaceutical ads on television by using King Kong as bait. Unfortunately, when King Kong arrives on the mainland, he and Godzilla (accidentally released from an iceberg after an American nuclear submarine accident) have beef. Who will win their epic battle atop Mt. Fuji? Watch this classic and find out.
5. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
Enter Mothra. She’s beauty, she’s grace, and she’s ready to punch Godzilla in the face. From her own debut movie in 1961, Mothra is ready to meet her match. After Godzilla’s epic battle with King Kong, he’s ready for more smoke. In this movie, a news reporter and his photographer find a giant egg washed ashore on the beach. Unfortunately for them, a greedy businessman takes the egg so he can put it on display for profit. When people warn the businessman that the egg harbors larvae (that unbeknownst to them belongs to Mothra) that can potentially devastate the population, that’s when things get a little scrambled. For reasons unknown, Godzilla senses a disturbance at the beach and starts to attack the shoreline. Luckily, Mothra is recruited to help the folks of the beachside city conquer the wrath of Godzilla, yet again. Who will win this time?
6. Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
From the destroyer of worlds to the protector of the planet, this movie marks a big shift in Godzilla’s role. When a monstrous creature named Ghidorah comes from outer space to invade planet Earth, Mothra has to convince Godzilla to help save the planet from total annihilation. This movie also marks the first appearance of the Pteranodon Rodan who comes to join the fray. Sounds a little similar to The Avengers (2011), doesn’t it?
7. Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
One small step for man, one giant leap for ancient reptile-kind. Invasion of Astro-Monster follows two astronauts who travel to the mysterious Planet X, located somewhere behind Jupiter. While exploring the planet, home of the alien lifeforms known as Xiliens, the astronauts encounter none other than King Ghidorah, who fled to space after the events of the last film. After assessing the threat Ghidorah posed to their mission, the two astronauts send a request to use Godzilla and Rodan back to their launch bay on Earth to help destroy the monster (again) in a galaxy far, far away. Something fun about this film is that it features a Godzilla victory dance, which is something you can try once you finish your ultimate Godzilla watch list.
8. Ebirah: Horror of the Deep (1966)
Tired from his previous space battle, Godzilla finds himself resting on an uncharted island in the Pacific. Unbeknownst to the sleeping giant, the island is run by a hostile organization known as The Red Bamboo. The group uses slave labor by rounding up a group of natives from a nearby island to produce military-grade weapons and a mysterious yellow liquid that seemingly keeps a giant sea lobster, Ebirah, at bay. Godzilla is awakened by a group of mainland Japanese youngsters who suspect the Red Bamboo has kidnapped their friend. Aquatic chaos ensues once Godzilla tries to help defend the natives from the corrupt organization and evil sea creature.
9. Son of Godzilla (1967)
A big congratulations are in order for Papa ‘Zilla! Somewhere between all the fighting, Godzilla had a little downtime to produce an heir. (As for who the lucky Ms. ‘Zilla is, audiences are never told.) Shenanigans ensue when some scientists attempt to build a weather-controlling device to bring snow to the tropical climate of Solgell Island, but are impeded when the changing weather conditions awaken a swarm of giant praying mantises and spiders. As if that wasn’t enough, the creatures uncover a mysterious egg that when hatched unveils Godzilla’s baby, named Minilla. When Godzilla goes to collect his son, the other predators launch an attack. This movie is perfect for a little father-son bonding time, as it shows Godzilla in a slightly comedic and more paternal light.
10. Destroy All Monsters (1968)
This monstrous blockbuster includes the biggest Godzilla team-up yet. Similar to Jurassic World, all of Earth’s giant monsters are confined by the United Nations Science Committee in a place called Monsterland. Keeping a bunch of caged-up mega-beasts in one area doesn’t works out the way scientists hope, though, as the committee gets hacked by an alien species who not only let the monsters escape into the wild, but also encourages them to attack famous cities like New York, Paris, London, Beijing, and Moscow. With the monsters out of control, who can possibly reign them back in? You can check out the cameo-packed trailer here.
11. All Monsters Attack (1969)
All Monsters Attack is primarily known for being an underwhelming film in the franchise, but most do give it kudos for its heartwarming storyline about a son who wants to connect with his busy mother. Latchkey kidIchiro dreams of going to Monsterland in order to befriend Godzilla’s son, Minilla, as they both have parents who are often absent due to work or in Godzilla’s case, stopping world disasters.
12. Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s… climate change? Japan is under attack when Hedorah, a space-dwelling monster, makes his way to Earth to feed on the planet’s trash and pollution in order to grow stronger. He soon turns into a sea monster in order to consume more of humankind’s toxic waste. Godzilla soon senses his presence, and tries to pulverize the smog monster into biodegradable dust. A fun fact about this movie is that it features the first and only time Godzilla is shown to fly using his atomic powers.
13. Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
Godzilla vs. Gigan is a little bonkers. Things get a bit supernatural when a nefarious group of alien cockroaches arrive on Earth in search of a new home planet. After seeing an homage to the decorated hero Godzilla, the roaches realize they’ll never be able to take over Earth while he’s around, so they hatch a complicated plan involving the puppeteering of recently deceased humans, some other alien life forms, and an attempt to summon King Ghidorah once again to destroy Godzilla once and for all.
14. Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
When will global organizations learn that nuclear missile testing is just not the answer? Apparently not soon enough. Godzilla vs. Megalon follows the underwater city of Seatopia, which thrived in peace and harmony until nuclear testing destroyed the kingdom with a series of environmental disasters. Understandably distraught, Seatopians unleash a sea-dwelling beetle with the ability to fire ray beams and drop napalm bombs. Godzilla must intervene to send the creature back to the watery depths below. You can watch the explosive trailer here.
15. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
Considering that Transformers didn’t debut until 1984, the idea to bring a mechanized version of Godzilla into the fray was well ahead of its time. In this futuristic entry to the series, a foreseer prophesies that Godzilla will destroy the island of Okinawa, despite being a keeper of peace for the last decade or so. But it turns out that a new species of aliens known as the Black Hole Aliens who wish to invade planet Earth, have made a titanium version of Godzilla as a fail-safe to protect them from the real Godzilla, just in case he interrupted their plans for world domination. It’s God vs. Machine, who will win?
16. Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
Though Godzilla manages to defeat the robot version of himself in the previous film, he’s going to have to do it again. After a disgruntled scientist gets shunned by the scientific community he decides to rebuild the creature, which then in turn, prompts more aliens to launch a counterattack by enlisting the help of another mega-beast called Titanosaurus. Godzilla can handle the Mechagodzilla, but Titanosaurus proves to be a real threat. He’s a smart dinosaur with antennae atop his head to assist with his mind control powers, as well as a tail that can create cyclones. Similar to Destroy All Monsters, this movie is jam-packed with action.
17. The Return of Godzilla (1984)
After three decades of Godzilla dominating the culture, the mega-hit monster’s popularity finally began to decline. His child-friendly appearance and goody-two-shoes behavior were a far cry from the terror was conceptualized in his debut. Toho Pictures, the studio behind the franchise, struggled for nearly a decade with how to revitalize the giant reptile’s reputation. Eventually, they settled on a total reboot that served as a sequel to the 1954 movie, meaning Godzilla was back, bigger, and more destructive than ever.
18. Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
Five years after Godzilla attacked the mainland, the city is still reeling from the destruction. Meanwhile, a grieving geneticist who had lost his daughter during the siege infuses a rose plant with her DNA in an attempt to keep part of her alive. After his science is called into question by the scientific community, he is disgraced but takes his twisted experiment further. He extracts leftover DNA from Godzilla and infuses it into the plant in hopes that Godzilla’s immortality will protect his daughter-plant from ever wilting and dying. Godzilla, who had been chilling out in a volcano the last five years, senses a new species similar to him when the rose plant starts to bloom. It’s planet vs. plant vs. reptile, and every man for themselves.
19. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
In the movie, three travelers from the year 2204 come to warn present-day Japan about nuclear power and industrialization. Because Godzilla thrives on nuclear power, the time travelers allege that Godzilla will be able to destroy Japan for good if they don’t try to stop him now. However, when a robotic version of King Ghidorah (cryogenically frozen in the past) shows up to attack the city, it seems that the time travelers might not be telling the full truth about the future.
20. Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)
Earth is on the brink of a disastrous climate change scenario. An archeological research team goes to visit Infant Island, an ecosystem inhabited by miniature humans with cosmic abilities, to seek help. The Infant Island residents reveal that the planet is upset by man-made pollution and destruction, and because of this it will release an evil creature by the name of Battra to seek revenge and destroy all humans. When the Battra prophecy comes true, Mothra is enlisted by the residents of the island to help battle the creature. Godzilla then awakens due to the commotion on Earth and joins in on the battle against both monsters.
21. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
Still reeling from the battles between Godzilla, Mothra, and Ghidorah, the Japanese army teams up with the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center to build an anti-Godzilla machine they call Mechagodzilla. Meanwhile, Rodan is presiding over an egg that doesn’t belong to him. When the military, the UN, and scientists get wind of this they steal the egg from Rodan’s clutches. Unfortunately, because the egg is under duress, it emits telepathic waves to the one and only Godzilla, revealing that it contains a baby Godzilla. Chaos reigns supreme when Godzilla arrives on shore to fight everyone in his way, even if it means certain death from himself via a giant mechanized machine.
22. Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
Biollante, the hybrid female human plant from Godzilla vs. Biollante, escaped to a black hole after her fight with Godzilla. Due to cross-pollination and an unexplained space phenomenon, a Space Godzilla was born. The space creature proves a formidable foe for the Earth-dwelling Godzilla as it has hard crystal spikes on his body that offer a great deal of protection and power. When the space monster dares to do harm to Baby Godzilla and the people of Earth, Godzilla steps up to protect them. This movie marks the 40th anniversary of the series.
23. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
The Japanese Self-Defense Force notices that Godzilla has started to break out in a mysterious red-glowing rash similar to that of oozing lava. Scientists figure that because the monster runs off of nuclear energy, he might be experiencing a radioactive meltdown of epic proportions that might in turn ruin the planet. At the same time, Godzilla is mourning the loss of his son Godzilla junior (also known as baby Godzilla from the 1993 movie) who has presumingly died in the film’s previous battle. As if these things weren’t enough, another giant beast has come to challenge him. Destoroyah has the ability to handle Godzilla’s atomic blasts and mega-strength while dishing out his own fury of cosmic energies. It is a battle of truly epic proportions, and truly marks the end of an era, as it features the death of Godzilla, for real this time.
24. Godzilla (1998)
Godzilla comes to America in this reboot of the series for Western audiences. This movie was a star-studded affair helmed by actor Matthew Broderick (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Inspector Gadget) and directed by action juggernaut Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Moonfall). It gave Godzilla a new origin story as a lab experiment gone wrong after French scientists accidentally mutate a nest of lizards. The mutated lizard makes its way to New York, where the creature then starts to grow into the giant monster, Godzilla. Though heavily criticized for its nonsensical plot, something that would discourage another American remake until 2014’s Godzilla, it was lauded for technical advancements in CGI and creature design. You can check out the trailer here.
25. Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)
After a series of poor movie receptions, Toho company again returned to the monster franchise’s basics. For this new approach, they announced a “Millennium” series with a stronger focus on self-contained films instead of on overlapping continuity. Separated from the forty-decade canon that preceded it, Godzilla 2000 is the first film of this series. It centers around an alien species that wants to harness the regenerative properties of Godzilla DNA, in order to gain immortality and, through it, world domination.
26. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
The second movie in the Millenium series follows the malfunction of a device that creates artificial black holes. As one of the black holes opens,, a dragonfly-like creature manages to escape it and lay eggs in the Japanese city of Shibuya before being sucked back in. The creatures within those eggs start to feed on water and human energy in order to grow and sustain their species, causing quite the disruption to the ecosystem. Similar to Voltron, these creatures band together in order to transform into a giant dragonfly called Meganuras. In this new, fused form, Meganuras attempts to siphon Godzilla’s energy next, so that they can bring it back to their Queen, Megagurius. A three-way battle between the humans, Godzilla, and the Megaguirus begins. Who will win?
27. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah, Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
In the third movie for the Millenium series, Godzilla goes ghost. Like Godzilla vs. Megaguirus before it, this movie only acknowledges the 1954 original movie, which ends in the ambiguous death of the towering monster. Now, in the present day, he’s reanimated by the vengeful ghosts of those who died during World War II. These spirits all possess his body giving him a creepy pupilless effect in his eyes to signify his undead nature. The Japanese SDF do not take this threat well, and team up with both Mothra and King Ghidorah in order to bring the possessed monster down. This film rescued the franchise after the first two movies in the Millennium series performed poorly at the box office.
28. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
In the fourth movie of the Millenium series, Godzilla once again faces off against Mechagodzilla, who this time is operated by a human inside the machinery. It’s reptile vs. machine, will humanity finally win? Unlike the prior films which rely on Godzilla dying in the original 1954 feature, this film asserts that his “bone fragments” survive, which means he still lives. It also references the events of other Kaiju films Mothra and War of the Gargantuas, which is a neat call back to those original King Kong and Mothra crossovers
29. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S (2003)
The fifth movie in the Millenium series is the first and last to be a direct sequel to the movie before it. In this one, the Mechagodzilla bot undergoes repairs and upgrades after battling Godzilla the year prior. While this is happening the natives from Infant Island are able to figure out why Godzilla keeps terrorizing the city. Because the Japanese military used the original 1954 Godzilla’s skeleton in order to construct Mechagodzilla, the present-day Godzilla seeks revenge. However, if they return the monster’s bones to the ocean not only would Godzilla chill on the destruction, but Mothra could then take over as Japan’s protector from other threats. The battle of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla vs. Mothra continues, will humanity do the right thing?
30. Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
This movie marked the sixth and final story in the Millennium series. Because the movie also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Godzilla franchise, it is jam-packed with action, creatures, and mayhem. Similar to 1968’s Destroy All Monsters, this movie features an alien invasion that causes all the Earth’s giant creatures to go rogue and demolish popular cities around the world under mind control. Unlike the older movie though, where Godzilla was primarily an ally, Godzilla has to fight the urge to harm humans in defense of the greater good. It’s an interesting entry in what would be the last of the Japanese movies for the next twelve years.
31. Godzilla (2014)
Just like Godzilla, Hollywood remakes can’t quit. In yet another American reboot of the franchise, Godzilla is ready to do damage, this time in San Francisco. This remake, directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen (Brother/Sister duo Pietro and Wanda Maximoff in the following year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron), and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) is considered one of the better of the franchise remakes. Under Edwards’ direction, Godzilla is an ally to humans believed to help protect the planet from other dangerous monsters, a godlike creature. Not only does he now behead his enemies with his fire breath, but he also is a bit more considerate about the destruction he causes to landmarks and skyscrapers. If you’re looking for an entry into the Godzilla franchise, this one is a jam-packed action movie and a good place to start.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bryan Cranston used to do monster voices for the Power Rangers TV show, which was massively inspired by creature feature films of Japan’s heyday?
32. Shin Godzilla (2016)
Twelve years after the last Japanese Godzilla film, Godzilla: Final Wars, the Toho Company is back with the 31st entry, Shin Godzilla, also known as Godzilla: Resurgence. In this movie, the Godzilla origin story takes a sort of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles approach after nuclear waste ends up leaking into the Tokyo Bay, causing a mysterious sea-dwelling creature to mutate. (This is a nod to the 2011 Fukushima disaster similar to the way the original Godzilla was linked to the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima during WWII.) The Japanese government call an emergency meeting to determine what to do with the monster as it starts to evolve and cause destruction in its wake. Seems like we’ve heard this story before.
DID YOU KNOW?
The ooze that mutates the turtles in TMNT was (unofficially) the same ooze that blinded a young Matt Murdock from Daredevil?
33. Godzilla: Planet of Monsters (2017)
Godzilla goes anime. Many years into the future the Earth becomes uninhabitable and overrun by giant monsters. The ruler of all of those monsters? You guessed it. Godzilla. Some 20,000 years later, humans come back to see if the Earth can be recolonized again, but are shocked to find that Godzilla and the others are still dominating the planet. The remaining humans team up to take back the Earth for themselves. In the battle for Earth, who will become extinct: man or Godzilla?
34. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)
The second in the anime series deals with the brief defeat of Godzilla, however, when he is reawakened, the humans have to find the Mechagodzilla bot that almost took him down 20,000 years prior.
35. Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
In the last in the anime series after the use of Mechagodzilla, the humans still aren’t safe from the immortal monster. Luckily, King Ghidorah comes to Earth in order to battle Godzilla for dominance. Ghidorah’s freezing powers might be the only thing that can stop Godzilla’s heat-based radiation.
36. Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019)
This is the first direct sequel to an American remake of the Godzilla franchise, which is an achievement considering how many times it’s been rebooted. Directed and co-written by Michael Dougherty (Trick ‘r Treat), this film continues to showcase the relationship between Godzilla and the US military as the creature travels to Antarctica to fight newly arrived titans King Ghidorah and Rodan. Like the other American films, they spared no expense on a famous cast consisting of Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things), Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), and Bradley Whitford (Tick, Tick…Boom!) You can watch the OG trailer here.
37. Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Director Adam Wingard (You’re Next) helms the 36th entry, which functions as a sequel to both the 2014 and 2019 Godzillas, as well as to the 2017 King Kong reboot, Kong: Skull Island. The movie stars Alexander Skarsgard (The Northman), Rebecca Hall (Passing), and Brown reprises her previous role in the series. Godzilla vs. Kong marks the first time in 59 years that the two iconic giants battle on screen again. When Godzilla senses a disturbance on Skull Island, the two monsters enter a battle of epic proportions that must be seen to believe. Who will win?
And more importantly, after the latest entry in one of the longest-running franchises of all time, where will Godzilla end up next?
All Godzilla Movies In Order:
- Godzilla (1954)
- Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)
- King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
- Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
- Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964)
- Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
- Ebirah: Horror of the Deep (1966)
- Son of Godzilla (1967)
- Destroy All Monsters (1968)
- All Monsters Attack (1969)
- Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
- Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
- Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
- Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
- The Return of Godzilla (1984)
- Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
- Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
- Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992)
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)
- Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994)
- Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
- Godzilla (1998)
- Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999)
- Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
- Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah, Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
- Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002)
- Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S (2003)
- Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)
- Godzilla (2014)
- Shin Godzilla (2016)
- Godzilla: Planet of Monsters (2017)
- Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)
- Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018)
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters (2019)
- Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)