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Godzilla is a giant dinosaur that first appeared in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd.. The monster has appeared in numerous other media incarnations including video games, novels, comic books, and television series. A 1998 American reimagining was produced and a second American version is currently undergoing post-production.[9] The character is commonly alluded to by the title King of the Monsters, an epithet first used in the Americanized version of the original 1954 film.

With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons. As the film series expanded, some stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla as a hero while other plots still portrayed Godzilla as a destructive monster; sometimes the lesser of two threats who plays the defender by default but is still a danger to humanity

Character overview and development

Godzilla's iconic design features a reptilian visage, a robust build, an upright posture, a long tail and rows of serrated fins along the back.
Although the specific details of Godzilla's appearance have varied slightly over the years, the overall impression has remained consistent. Inspired by the fictional Rhedosaurus created by animator Ray Harryhausen for the film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, Godzilla's iconic character design was conceived as that of an amphibious reptilian monster based around the loose concept of a dinosaur with an erect standing posture, scaly skin, an anthropomorphic torso with muscular arms, spikes on its back and tail, and a furrowed brow. Art director Akira Watanabe combined attributes of a Tyrannosaurus, an Iguanodon, a Stegosaurus and an alligator to form a sort of blended chimera, inspired by illustrations from an issue of Life magazine. To emphasize the monster's relationship with the atomic bomb, its skin texture was inspired by the keloid scars seen on Hiroshima's survivors. Godzilla's appearance has traditionally been portrayed in the films by an actor wearing a latex costume, though the character has also been rendered in animatronic, stop-motion and computer-generated form. Godzilla has a distinctive roar, which was created by composer Akira Ifukube, who produced the sound by rubbing a resin coated glove along the string of a contrabass and then slowing down the playback. The original costume was painted brown, though Godzilla has also been depicted as black, grey or green.

Within the context of the films, Godzilla's exact origins vary, but it is generally depicted as an enormous, violent, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation. Its size is inconsistent, changing from film to film and even from scene to scene for the sake of artistic license. The miniature sets and costumes are typically built at a 1/25 - 1/50 scale and filmed at 240 frames per second, to create the illusion of great size. Supplementary information such as character profiles depict Godzilla as being 50–100 meters (164–328 feet) tall and weighing 20-60,000 tons. Godzilla's signature weapon is its atomic breath, a concentrated stream of blue or red radioactive fire that is unleashed from its jaws while its dorsal fins glow. Toho’s special effects department has used various techniques to render the breath, from physical gas-powered flames to hand-drawn or computer-generated fire. Godzilla is shown to possess immense physical strength and muscularity. Haruo Nakajima, the actor who played Godzilla in the original films, was a black belt in Judo and used his expertise to choreograph the battle sequences. Godzilla is capable of breathing underwater, and described in the original film by the character Dr. Yamane as being a transitional form between a marine and a terrestrial reptile. Godzilla is immune to conventional weaponry thanks to its rugged hide and ability to regenerate.Various films, television shows, comics and games have depicted Godzilla with additional powers such as an atomic pulse, magnetism, precognition, fireballs, an electric bite, superhuman speed, eye beams and even flight.

Godzilla's allegiance has changed from film to film to suit the needs of the story. Although Godzilla does not like humans, it will fight alongside humanity against common threats. However, it makes no special effort to protect human life or property and will turn against its human allies on a whim. When inquired if Godzilla was "good or bad", producer Shogo Tomiyama likened it to a Shinto "God of Destruction" which lacks moral agency and cannot be held to human standards of good and evil. "He totally destroys everything and then there is a rebirth. Something new and fresh can begin."

The gender of the Godzilla character has been a subject of confusion for English-speaking audiences.In the original Japanese films, Godzilla and all the other monsters are referred to with gender-neutral pronouns such as "it", while in the English dubbed versions, Godzilla is explicitly described as a male, such as in the title of Godzilla, King of the Monsters!. The 1998 Hollywood remake contributed to this confusion, in which the titular character (subsequently known as Zilla) was depicted laying eggs.

In the various stories it has appeared in, Godzilla has been featured alongside many supporting characters. It has faced human opponents such as the JSDF, and giant other monsters, from recurring characters like King Ghidorah, Gigan and Mechagodzilla to one-shot characters like Megalon, Biollante and Megaguirus. Godzilla is also shown to have allies, such as Mothra, Rodan and Anguirus (though these characters were initially portrayed as Godzilla's rivals), and children, such as Minilla. Godzilla has even fought against characters from other franchises in crossover media, such as King Kong and the Fantastic Four.

Godzilla Comics

In the 1970s, Godzilla starred in a 24 issue run of comics written by Doug Moench and published by Marvel Comics entitled "Godzilla King Of The Monsters" which thrust Godzilla completely into the Marvel Universe. In a nod to King Kong vs. Godzilla, Godzilla first appears by exploding out of an iceberg. It seems that Godzilla's appearances in the Toho movies were given a nod in a few issues. In at least one issue commented that Godzilla had often 'seemed like the lesser of two evils' when he would clash with a monster far more evil in intention than Godzilla, who generally acted more like an actual animal, albeit one with unusual levels of intelligence. Godzilla encountered not only agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but also many heroes from Marvel Comic books. Among them, the now defunct group called The Champions (sans the Ghost Rider, then a member at the time), the Fantastic Four, Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy, and The Avengers, along with a brief, belated cameo by Spider-Man in the last issue of the series. Godzilla also fought other gigantic monsters, including Yetrigar, who was likely patterned after King Kong, and The Mega Monsters, and in defeating these three alien beasts, saved Earth and an alien world which had been at war with the masters of the Mega Monsters. In the comics he has fire breath, rather that radioactive breath as in the films. A character created specifically for the series called Red Ronin, would reappear in Avengers, Solo Avengers, and an issue of Wolverine, in which Godzilla is given a subtle nod, being referred to as 'Time Lost Dinosaur' to avoid being sued by Toho, presumably. Red Ronin would also appear in the series Earth X, a darker future of the Marvel universe, which provided frightening details about the purpose of Galactus and the origins of Earth's super powered populous.
One of Godzilla's primary antagonists from the series, mad scientist Doctor Demonicus, would later capture and mutate Godzilla even further. This altered version of the monster has continued to make rare appearances into the 2000s, but never called Godzilla directly. Recently, a creature bearing a resemblance to the Heisei-era Godzilla made a cameo the opening issue of The Mighty Avengers. More than likely, however, this is simply a throwaway appearance and does not bear on Godzilla's place in Marvel canon. Recently, however, in the Marvel Comics atlas (under the article on Japan), it states that the age of monsters began in 1954, evidently a reference to Godzilla. Additionally, the entry also mentions that Godzilla had returned years later and was the reason for the construction of Red Ronin and the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D's Godzilla Squad .

Dark Horse Comics eventually gained the rights to the license sometime in the 1980s, and produced several vignettes of Godzilla, before providing a translated manga of Godzilla 1985 which was based on the Japanese version of the film rather than the Americanized version. Godzilla, the 1990s, would also receive his own run with Dark Horse Comics in a 17 issue run which used the same name as the Marvel run; Godzilla King Of The Monsters. This series featured several new monsters for Godzilla to fight, and a story arc in which Godzilla was flung through time by a would-be arch villain, who used him to cause the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, sink the Titanic, and even pitted him against the Spanish Armada. Godzilla would be flung into the far flung future as well and would rampage across it before returning to the modern day. The last issue of the Dark Horse series saw Godzilla flung back into time to just a few hours before the asteroid which supposedly destroyed the dinosaurs impacted on Earth, and fought an alien creature. This issue first seemed to have the 'it was all a dream' ending, as Godzilla awoke from his slumber in the modern day. But then threw a twist onto the ending, showing Godzilla staring at a piece of his opponent's tail still in his hand from where he had ripped it off in the final moments of their battle before the impact.