Ever since Godzilla roared onto the silver screen in 1954, he had cemented his place in the top tier of kaiju and monsters across the world. By the time that his first movie came over to the United States, he became the king of monsters. However, no throne stays unchallenged. Thus, it is no surprise that his second movie started the trend where other kaiju battled and tried to overthrow Godzilla. Over the following decades, Godzilla has amassed his own rogues’ gallery from his movies, comics, and video games.
Even though many have challenged Godzilla’s might, few have proven to be a threat to him. Some, like Ebirah, did little aside from irritate Godzilla with rocks. Meanwhile, others presented a mortal threat not only to Godzilla but to all of existence. Their fights have brought Godzilla to the brink of death, if not pushed him over the edge.
So, which 10 Kaiju have posed the greatest threat to Godzilla?
Unfortunately, due to the unique powers and scaling found in comic books, none of the comic-only foes will make it to this list. Likewise, no creatures created for the two cartoon series will be present on this list. Only kaiju found in Godzilla’s films will make it to this list.
Also, Rodan, despite his popularity and fame, has never been a credible foe to Godzilla. At best, any fight with Rodan has been on a steppingstone to get to the actual adversary. Instead, he has served as one of Godzilla’s greatest allies.
In 1955, Godzilla matched up with his first of many rivals, Anguirus, a quadrupedal kaiju inspired by the ankylosaurus. Anguirus’s most notable trait is his spiked carapace, which keeps him protected from enemy attacks. This creature also has the agility, speed, and organization to use make his powerful defense also a powerful offense. With his agility, Anguirus can curl up into a ball or perform full-body backward body slams to attack his enemies. Finally, he is an adept burrower, which aids him in swiftly traversing long distances underground. While he does have a long, spiked tail, he rarely attacks with it.
In his first appearance, Anguirus viciously battled with Godzilla for well over 8 minutes on screen. This battle sparked for no other reason than great hatred between the two creatures. As the pair of kaiju battled to death, they tore through Osaka, Japan. Unfortunately, Anguirus fell as Godzilla tore through his neck.
After his original appearance in the Showa series, Anguirus became a regular companion as he stood at Godzilla’s side in battle. He joined the battle against Ghidorah in Destroy All Monsters and partnered up with him once again in Godzilla vs. Gigan. His second defeat came at the hands of Mechagodzilla, who he briefly scuffled with.
Anguirus has since returned to his original position as an adversary to Godzilla. While he was meant to join the battle against Godzilla in Giant Monster All-Out Attack, Toho decided to replace Varan and him with Mothra and Ghidorah. However, he returned to the screen in Final Wars, where he once again battled against Godzilla. Anguirus will also return in Singular Point.
9. King Kong
Any King Kong from his stand-alone films would not offer a challenge to Godzilla, for the giant Ape has regularly been a fraction of the Godzilla’s size. With his original height being 25 feet in comparison to Godzilla’s 164 feet, none of his strength nor intelligence would help him deal any damage. Likewise, Legendary’s Kong originally debuted at 104 feet, a fraction of Godzilla’s 393 feet. So, how has this monster made it onto the list?
For both of his crossover matches with Toho’s kaiju star, Kong has gained the height to match up with Godzilla. Furthermore, in King Kong vs. Godzilla, King Kong powered up with lightning to deal added damage. However, with their heights matched, Kong instead poses a threat with his agility and intelligence to use tools in battle. No other opponent has stuffed an entire tree down Godzilla’s mouth. Likewise, Legendary’s Kong will employ weapons like an axe to battle against Godzilla.
Unfortunately, the 1963 match-up between these two monsters ended in a draw. While King Kong visibly swam away to his home, Godzilla slunk away from the battle underwater. Even though the American release of the film suggested that Kong had been the winner, no victor emerged from the battle. Fans once again expect that no victor will be declared in 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong since both monsters are important to their respective studios.
One of Godzilla’s strangest and most unique adversaries debuted in 1971’s Godzilla vs. Hedorah, otherwise known as Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster. The title monster in this film, Hedorah, was a cosmic entity, originating from the Dark Gas Nebula in Orion, which built his body from the smog and pollution found on Earth. Originally, Hedorah begins his life cycle as a tadpole coated in corrosive acid. As he grew, he took on first a quadruped form then a flying form, which spewed a corrosive smog down on any below. His final form was bipedal, which stands 10 meters taller than Godzilla.
Hedorah’s capabilities make him a credible threat to Godzilla. Since he consumes smog and builds himself up from the world’s pollution, his entire body is corrosive. The corrosive acids in his body have proven to be both a powerful defense and offense. Notably, the malleable nature of his body makes him immune to Godzilla’s most devastating ability, the atomic breath. Additionally, he can throw sludge around, which has seared Godzilla’s right eye shut during their decisive battle in Godzilla vs. Hedorah. Finally, his fourth form developed the ability to fire a laser beam from his eyes.
The most difficult element to surpass is Hedorah’s durability since only extreme dehydration can vanquish this creature. Even with a dehydrated outer layer, he can regenerate from the sludge inside. Thus, Godzilla had to shred him to bits and dehydrate each segment.
Hedorah even returned to battle Godzilla once again during Final Wars. During his brief appearance in the film, Godzilla blasted him and Ebirah away from Tokyo Harbor with a single atomic ray blast.
In the search for a sequel concept for their phenomenally successful Return of Godzilla, Toho turned to the fans and opened a contest for the best script. Thus, a dentist, Shinichiro Kobayashi, cemented his name in Godzilla history with the creation of Biollante. Biollante was the first of many genetic clones of Godzilla, followed by Space Godzilla and Kiryu, which reflected the late 80’s change in attitude toward cloning and genetic research. For, before this era, genetic hybrids and clones were not a prevalent thought in our culture.
Biollante began its life as the hybrid between a rose and a girl named Erika since her father wanted to preserve her after her premature death. Unfortunately, after Mount Mihara erupted, the roses began to wilt and die off. Thus, Erika’s father introduced Godzilla cells into the genetic cocktail in a bid to keep the plants and, in extension, his daughter’s spirit alive. Instead, the plants mutated into the monster now known as Biollante.
Her first monstrous form was that of a giant rose that towered over a lake. In this form, Biollante’s attacks and defenses relied solely on her piercing tentacles. Some of her tentacles also had maws like those of a venus fly trap. However, after Godzilla burnt the rose, her spores rose into the sky.
Later, Biollante would return with a vengeance, now assuming a form that resembled a venus fly trap combined with Godzilla. In this form, Biollante gained the ability to crawl along the ground and spray out acid. Her maw was also massive enough to encompass the entirety of Godzilla’s head and neck.
While comics nor video games have not forgotten Biollante, she has not returned to the silver screen since her debut film.
While American had created enemies for Godzilla in both Hanna Barbera’s Godzilla from 1978 and Fox Kid’s 1998 Godzilla: The Series, Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla became the first to officially introduce American-made monsters to a Godzilla film. Thus, the Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms, otherwise known as MUTOs, joined the ranks of Godzilla’s greatest foes. Unlike the other kaiju on this list, these creatures present their greatest threat as a mated pair. However, there is a MUTO Prime and a MUTO queen that has popped up in media since their debut.
The male MUTO is the smaller of the pair, standing at around 200 feet tall. In exchange for a smaller stature, this kaiju is capable of flight and very agile, making him difficult to attack.
Meanwhile, the female MUTO is substantially larger, standing at around 300 feet tall. Unlike the male, the female MUTO is completely land-bound. However, she stays agile as she can viciously charge and claw at her enemies.
Both creatures can emit EMP pulses, which disable human electronics in the area. Their claws and fangs are also fully capable of damaging Godzilla. Their greatest threat came in the form of their swarm of offspring. Most notably, a predecessor to the film’s pair had brought down an ancient member of Godzilla’s race to lay its eggs inside of its carcass.
Since the MUTO worked as a pair to strike out and defend their nest from Godzilla, they fought Godzilla to the point of exhaustion. The titan promptly collapsed after his brawl against them.
One of Godzilla’s most alien adversaries emerged from 1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan. Since his debut, fans have affectionately labeled Gigan as a cyborg chicken. However, he has just as many more lizard traits than his obvious bird-like beak and roar. Topping off his otherworldly appearance are his scythe-like hands and feet. Every aspect of Gigan points to his purpose as a weapon of destruction.
In the Showa era, Gigan originated from the M Space Hunter Nebula. He only came to Earth at the beck and call of his alien controllers to serve as their weapon. Gigan’s extraterrestrial origins continued when he returned for the Millennium series’ final film, Final Wars. While he once again served as a weapon for the invading alien force, this time he served the Xiliens.
Gigan’s most obvious threat comes from the scythes on his arms and legs. With these large blades, he has sliced through Godzilla’s hide as he flew past him. However, they are only the tip of his abilities. Gigan also fires lasers from his cyclops eye. Finally, he has a chain saw that spans down his entire midsection.
Meanwhile, Final Wars’ Gigan upped the ante by attaching Chain Saws to his arms after he was dispatched in his initial fight with Godzilla. This Gigan returned to the battlefield after Godzilla beheaded him, which potentially makes him more durable than his Showa version. Finally, his second form has razor blades to fire out at Godzilla.
For any who only know Godzilla through the Legendary Films, Mothra is only known as a symbiotic pair to Godzilla. However, Mothra’s opposition to Godzilla’s destructive nature is much more common. Since Mothra’s debut in 1961, she has been the protector of her people on Infant Island. Since then, her role has expanded to encompass the entirety of life on the planet. Thus, she stands in opposition to Godzilla’s rampages that have threatened humanity and the planet.
However, how can a giant Moth stand up against a kaiju such as Godzilla? She’s managed to counter his strength in multiple ways. When these two kaiju first met in 1964’s Mothra vs. Godzilla, Mothra used the last of her strength to protect her egg with gusts of winds and scratches. While she died in the attempt, her twin children defeated Godzilla by cocooning him with their silk.
When Toho decided to envision Mothra and Godzilla’s battle for the 90s audience in 1992, Mothra began her role as a protective goddess of the Earth. Thus, she gained new powers to match her godly status. The Heisei Mothra gained the ability to fire energy beams out of her antenna. Furthermore, she reflected Godzilla’s atomic breath at him by shedding her scales. While future incarnations lost the beams, her ability to shed scales from her wings remained.
The Millennium series added one final weapon to Mothra’s arsenal, a stinger. With this stinger, she could fire poison darts at her foes. This stinger returned when Legendary Pictures brought her into their Monsterverse.
Mothra is not only the first known female kaiju, but she is also one of the few kaiju to have successfully defeated and fended off Godzilla multiples times.
3. King Ghidorah
When it comes to Godzilla’s cosmic class of foes, there is none more powerful than the three-headed monster, King Ghidorah. While King Ghidorah was the fourth kaiju that Godzilla faced off against, he is the third most popular kaiju that Toho created. Versions of Ghidorah have featured in 11 of Toho’s films, 9 of which were Godzilla films. Furthermore, his appearance in films regularly brings in profits. His design boosts his appeal, for he appeals to both westerners already familiar with the hydra and eastern fans of creatures like Orochi. Also, his three-headed and two-tailed body gives him a distinctly alien feel.
More so than his alien appearance, the power that Ghidorah wields makes him distinctly memorable. Even in his debut 1964 Film, his presence required the cooperation of three monsters, Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan, to force him into a retreat. With the standard set, every other Showa film that featured Ghidorah needed multiple, up to every single monster in Toho’s gallery during the events of Destroy All Monsters, to force him into a retreat. While the Heisei iteration from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah no longer required multiple monsters to take him down, he remained a prominent threat.
So, how does a golden three-headed alien pose such a prominent threat? His most noteworthy attacks are the electric gravity beams that each of his three heads spews out allowing him to quickly sweep the battlefield with this attack. His ability to fly also allows him to attack multiple foes with ease. Finally, he is one of the most durable kaiju, capable of taking hits from multiple monsters. There have even been versions of Ghidorah that could not take damage at all until he phased into reality.
When it came to setting up the death of their star kaiju, Toho looked back to the one weapon that melted the original Godzilla to the bone, the Oxygen Destroyer. Only a monster created from the very weapon that decimated the original Godzilla could be the herald of his ultimate destruction. Thus, Destroyah, sometimes known as Destroyer, was created for 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destroyah.
When the Oxygen Destroyer turned Tokyo Bay into a death trap in 1954, the chemical concoction reanimated a dormant pre-Cambrian crab-like lifeform from the ocean’s surface. Over the decades, this species evolved to resemble the very substance that woke it. Thus, Destroyah could eat through substances that relied on oxygen to survive, quickly turning fish into bones. His ability to strip the flesh of living creatures was most potent in the water. However, even in the air, Destroyah’s “micro-oxygen” powers devastated the world around him.
Destroyah also took notes to his predecessors, like Hedorah, by evolving from a tiny crab into a kaiju that towered over Godzilla by over 20 meters. He terrorized humans just as well as kaiju with his crab-like form. Once he reached his third form, he gained the ability to soar through the sky, increasing the range of his destruction.
Destroyah’s abilities spanned farther than his oxygen destroyer origins. Once in his final form, Destroyah could power up his horn to create a slashing laser, which nearly cut Godzilla in two. While his micro-oxygen properties lost their edge out of the water, he could inject them directly into the bloodstreams of his victims.
While Destroyah only managed to fight Godzilla to the brink of death, he has the distinction of being the kaiju who murdered Godzilla’s son, Junior.
Special Mention: Eva Unit-01
Overall, the match against Godzilla and the Eva units has been a fan dream since the announcement that one of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Co-Creators, Hideaki Anno, signed up to direct a Godzilla movie. Since 2016, products have teased the battle between these two titans of Japanese pop culture. However, in 2019, Universal Studios Japan debuted a seasonal ride to satisfy the thirst of these fans, Godzilla vs. Evangelion 4-D.
Since this match-up has only been witnessed by visitors of Universal Studios Japan and those who look for bootleg clips, it is one of the lesser-known battles between Godzilla and any monster. Even though this short ride debuted a Shin Ghidorah, none can consider the events in the ride more than a little what-if story.
Worst still, while Shinji did get into the robot, he barely took part in the battle against Godzilla. Instead, units 00 and 02 sparred the most with Godzilla. So, while he did deal a critical hit against Shin Ghidorah, his ability to pose a threat to Godzilla still is unseen. Will fans ever get to see these two properties fully duke it out in a movie?
So, which of Toho’s kaiju have stood toe to toe with Godzilla and managed to cause the most damage to the radioactive beast? Which one has brought Godzilla to the brink of death on multiple occasions? Mechagodzilla, the Godzilla’s mechanical double, holds the distinction of terrorizing the kaiju in each film that he has been in.
This mechanical beast has taken several forms, from a machine built to serve an invading force of aliens, a Japanese self-defense creation modeled off the Mecha-King Ghidorah’s future technology, to Japan’s defensive bio-mechanical clone of the original Godzilla. However, no matter his origins, Mechagodzilla always has an impressive armory. Additionally, most versions of Mechagodzilla could fly on their own, though the third iteration required a transport lift for long distances.
One of the most iconic attacks of any Mechagodzilla is an all-out assault of every available weapon built into him. His blitz attacks, though short, have proven as a stumbling block for Godzilla.
In his debut film, 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Godzilla alone could not take down this mechanical monstrosity. Similarly, human intervention removed the controller of Mechagodzilla to path the way for victory in 1975’s Terror of Mechagodzilla. However, Heisei’s Mechagodzilla was the first version to almost kill Godzilla by obliterating his second brain. Following this trend, the third Mechagodzilla, Kiryu, scarred Godzilla with an absolute zero blast before sending him to the depths of the ocean on their second confrontation.
While Mechagodzilla did return for the Netflix anime series, he was no longer a kaiju rather than a living city. While this Mechagodzilla could only defend against Godzilla, he terrorized humanity with nanometal.
Godzilla vs. Kong will debut the first American Mechagodzilla to the films. Will he live up to the reputation of his predecessors?
Godzilla’s foes have come from all corners of reality, each giving him a different obstacle to topple over. Has your favorite kaiju made it to this list? Who would you pick as the most devastating to the King of the Monsters? Let us know!
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