Godzilla stands tall in New York City in "Godzilla"
(Toho/Warner Bros)

The Ten Best Godzilla Movies Ranked

Just how many Godzilla movies have been made about the Queen of Monsters? (She’s a girl. Idc what they say. It’s just a vibe I get.) 12? 20? Close, but no. 38. That’s more movies than Shakespeare wrote plays.

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This franchise is old. Not quite as old as the God-Lizard herself, but pretty damn close. But you want only the best? The best you shall have.

10. King Kong vs. Godzilla – 1962

King Kong battles a flmae breathing Godzilla in "King Kong vs Godzilla" 1962
(Toho)

It all had to start somewhere. Let me be clear” King Kong vs. Godzilla is a glorious pulp mess. The first Godzilla flick to be shot in color, the film features the God Lizard’s first-ever showdown with the King of the Jungle. Whatever cracked out scriptwriter thought it would be a good idea to have these two titans fight deserves a raise. Two. King Kong vs. Godzilla might not be a work of cinematic genius, but it is a masterstroke of marketing genius—one that still influences the franchise to this day.

9. Godzilla – 2014

Godzilla stands tall in New York City in "Godzilla"
(Toho/Warner Bros)

This modern Godzilla entry shows the importance of human characters in a franchise about a mutated dinosaur destroying the world. After all, it’s our world that Godzilla is destroying. Bryan Cranston adds a touch of human sympathy to this film of epically overblown proportions. Unsurprisingly, the film takes a dip when Cranston’s character is (spoiler alert) unceremoniously killed off a third of the way through. The giant monster action pieces and crumbling monoliths of CGI set pieces make up for it in the film’s remaining run, but only part of the way.

8. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla – 1974

Godzilla squares off against Mechagodzilla in "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla"
(Toho)

I would have loved to be a fly on the writer’s room wall when they thought of this one. “What if Godzilla has to fight a giant robot version of himself?” a writer asked after railing a line of idea powder. Thus, Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla was born. Unlike the old lizard, Mechagodzilla has modern tricks up its chromium sleeves! Laser eyes! Missile launching fingertips! Force fields! How’s the old dinosaur gonna fair against the might of modern technology? Unsurprisingly, pretty well.

7. The Return of Godzilla – 1984

Godzilla rears his ugly head in "The Return of Godzilla"
(Toho)

After Godzilla’s titanic battle with Mechagodzilla, the franchise was quiet. The King of Monsters slithered back into the sea. A fuzzy blanket of peace descended upon the world. People were comfortable. Then they got bored. The antidote? Bring back giant monsters. Thus The Return of Godzilla was born. And with him, a new era of special effects! Watching Godzilla tear apart the world rendered with (then) groundbreaking state-of-the-art special effects blew the collective mind of pop culture consciousness. And like the film that started it all, Godzilla once again becomes geopolitical commentary! Cold War metaphor, anyone?

6. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah – 1995

Godzilla breaths fire in "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah"- 1995
(Toho)

A decade and change after the Return of Godzilla, Godzilla returned again for the umpteenth time! Once again with brand new special effects! Godzilla vs. Destoroyah gave the lizard a fiery makeover! Burning Godzilla was born! The special effects to give Godzilla a smoldering appearance are downright cool—rivaled only by the sign of the even more terrifying Destoroyah. As far as Godzilla foes go, Destoroyah does everything the King of Monsters can do except bigger and better. How’s the ol’ King gonna make it outta this one?

5. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack – 2001

Monsters appear on the poster for "Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah- Giant Monsters All-Out Attack"
(Toho)

Godzilla is many things. A hero. A force of nature. A metaphor for the military industrial complex. But rarely is he ever a villain. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack changed all that. Just look at his creepy all-white eyes! What kind of good guy looks like that!? Godzilla takes the stage as a force of evil in this long-windedly titled film. The other monsters? They’re actually the good guys that humanity has to team up with to take the big G down. Plot Twist!

4. Godzilla vs. Kong – 2021

Godzilla vs Kong (2021)
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

The MonsterVerse got off to a rocky start, but the franchise finally struck the landing with the ludicrously entertaining Godzilla vs. Kong. The film feels like eating fast food. It’s amazing in the present, you feel a little bad about it in the future, but then you comfort yourself and call it an indulgence. Everyone’s gotta live a little, right? The King of Monsters faces off against the King of the Jungle. But the true warriors are the computer that had to work overtime to render these giants with the might of modern CGI effects. It’s one of the best-looking Godzilla flicks by far.

3. Shin Godzilla – 2016

Shin Godzilla lumbers off into the distance in "Shin Godzilla"

(Toho Co.)

Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno was the perfect fit to direct a reboot of the franchise. Reboot? More like a boot straight to Godzilla’s ass. The franchise was foot-propelled to new heights (“shin” is Japanese for “new” after all) by the monster’s terrifying redesign. Godzilla is no longer a giant lizard. Godzilla is a sort of biological cancer, rapidly mutating and evolving in order to better fit its environment. Gone is the charismatic dinosaur god, replaced with a slithering, dead fish-eyed horror that is frankly hard to look at it. All couched in a clever metaphor: humanity is the monster all along.

2. Godzilla Minus One – 2023

Minami Hamabe as Noriko Ōishi in 'Godzilla Minus One'

(Toho)

Takashi Yamazaki’s Godzilla Minus One is the jewel in the modern Godzilla era’s crown. The monster’s best story is unsurprisingly its most human-centric. The drama revolves around survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, as well as the grief and guilt of the greater nation. As for Godzilla, the King of Monsters is no hero. Like in the original film, he is merely destruction incarnate, a force too great for humanity to reckon with; they can do nothing but submit.

1. Godzilla – 1954

Godzilla, a giant lizard-monster, stomps around a city in a black-and-white still from 1954's 'Godzilla'
(Toho)

The blueprint. The OG. The film that started it all. The original Godzilla film is famous for its monster-as-nuclear-bomb metaphor, and was born out of the war-beleaguered Japanese collective consciousness. It was the first giant monster movie of its kind, and as a result was profoundly shocking and disturbing for mid-century audiences. Here was the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki writ large across the silver screen. Bleak. Austere. Chilling. Godzilla 1954 will never be forgotten.

(featured image: Warner Bros. Pictures)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.