The original Godzilla had blatant but effective social commentary, although its sequels resulted in a very different kind of tone. Even though the titular character was a clear representation of misused nuclear technology, he also had a terrific design. As if kids weren’t already fascinated with dinosaurs enough, Godzilla also harnesses atomic power and has an iconic roar. He’s a pop-culture staple, and his series has been going strong since 1954.
Godzilla has gone up against enemies that are just as ferocious and fascinating to watch, especially for kids who are big into movie monsters. We’ve thrown in a few more awesome killer kaiju onto this list to round out a total of fifteen for fans of classic Godzilla.
Updated on November 25th, 2020 by Derek Draven: We’ve added on a few more of Godzilla’s best enemies that he’s squared off against over the decades. Each is unique and creative in ways that only the Toho character designers could possibly dream up.
This cool looking creature resembled a cross between a Japanese dragon and a serpent and was just as deadly as the combination would suggest. Although the two never squared off officially on film, a deleted scene from Destroy All Monsters shows some snippets of them having a bit of tussle. The scene was rejected due to both being on the same side.
Manda made another appearance in the super-corny and ultra-fun Godzilla: Final Wars when it attacks the Gotengo warship. It loses the fight when the Gotengo fires a freeze beam at it before ramming straight through its icy corpse, shattering it into bits.
Hedorah is one of the few kaiju to nearly put Godzilla down for the permanent count. The creature is extraterrestrial in nature, hailing from the Dark Gas Nebula. It arrived on Earth to feed on the pollution in the atmosphere and environment, but it was an unwelcome guest for humanity.
Godzilla battled the creature and nearly lost his life in the process. The combination of physical strength and energy-based bolt attacks almost killed him before Godzilla got the upper hand. He lost an eye and a hand in the process, which must have been a blow to the ego.
13 King Caesar
This particular kaiju is sometimes benevolent, and sometimes malevolent depending on the circumstances. Regardless of which, the creature is one of the coolest Godzilla foes in the entire ‘verse, with the skills and abilities to prove it.
While insanely fast and nimble, that’s not King Caesar’s main selling point. His energy deflecting capabilities are what make him truly unique. He is able to absorb energy fired at him and redirect it back at his opponents via energy bolts from his eyes. If that weren’t enough, he also has lighting and heat beams, not to mention a tough outer shell that is brutal in close quarters combat.
One of Godzilla’s most fearsome and frightening foes is Biollante, a mixture of plant, human, and Godzilla DNA. The result is a nightmarish genetic monstrosity that could regenerate its damaged body and shrug off some of Godzilla’s most devastating attacks.
If that weren’t enough, Biollante is also capable of spitting radioactive sap at its foes in order to weaken and harm them. Godzilla had his hands full more than he’d have liked when he went up against this horrifying creation.
Spiders make for excellent movie monsters, and a gigantic one that can hold its own against Godzilla is even better. Kumonga is an incredibly aggressive predator that will go after almost anything it deems worthy as prey, including human beings.
It is not implied whether Kumonga’s monstrous size was due to radioactive fallout or whether it’s a natural extension of its species’ evolution, much the same as King Kong. Whatever the case, Kumonga’s skewer-like legs, thick webbing, and ability to withstand repeated atomic breath attacks make it one of Godzilla’s deadlier foes.
Well, this was the beginning. Anguirus, which basically resembles a giant Ankylosaur, was the first enemy of Godzilla. He was the first indication that Toho realized a new monster mash attitude could actually be quite lucrative.
So, even though he’s just another riff on dinosaurs, Anguirus will always be an important enemy. Unfortunately, he generally loses the majority of his battles, even when Godzilla plays the antagonist to humans as well. In fact, he isn’t very effective even when he aligns with Godzilla. He’s just too iconic to ignore, actually appearing in various comics and video games, as well.
9 King Kong
Although Kong: Skull Island welcomed Kong into the Kaiju universe of today’s Godzilla, it isn’t the first time. These two iconic creatures have battled it out before, and it was just plain cheesy. Which is unfortunate, because Kong is actually one of the best monsters ever put to film. He has conquered his terrifying island, which is full of a variety of vicious, prehistoric creatures. Kong’s story is thematically neat, and being an ape, he’s more personable than most monsters.
He was more villainous in the original movie but has since become a sympathetic character. So despite a disappointing history, we look forward to seeing two of our favorite monsters share the big screen with today’s technology.
Godzilla has fought some pretty silly enemies, from a giant plant to—literally—smog. We get the sentiment there, but it doesn’t really work. So, you would think that Godzilla could easily just squash Megaguirus like, well, a bug.
However, the insectoid enemies are surprisingly used for some great horror. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the giants that simply go about trashing all the miniatures in sight. In fact, some earlier scenes are somewhat reminiscent of Cloverfield. And eventually, when Megaguirus itself enters the ring, the lengthy battle is pretty brutal.
The film which introduces Orga, Godzilla 2000, is probably somewhat underrated. It was the introductory film to the Millennium period and had some pretty decent visual effects for the time. Full of family-friendly camp and a brisk pace, it’s a lot of fun that Orga starts out as a UFO. It really leans into the science-fiction elements of the franchise.
Also, that UFO comes in handy when Orga finally comes head-to-head with Godzilla. Literally. Orga actually eats Godzilla, for a hot minute. But what makes this villain even more fun, is that he was a ribbing of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 adaptation of Godzilla.
It’s difficult to imagine Mothra as a threat to anyone. That’s because, by design, it looks pretty friendly. However, the original Mothra film actually establishes the monster as a serious threat. She’s extraordinarily popular and definitely leans into elements of fantasy more so than most kaiju. This is because of the annoying twin fairies that always accompany her, who gradually became more objectified over time.
It’s hard to count Mothra as an enemy since she’s usually an ally. She often plays the martyr, assisting Godzilla. However, whenever Godzilla’s an enemy of humanity, she consistently helps the forces of good.
This particular kaiju has the unfortunate circumstance of claiming a hilariously wonderful design and ending up in very poor movies. This is probably because of his origin story being linked to an alien race.
Sadly, the majority of those plots end up being pretty tacky. However, his extraterrestrial origin also freed him from any form of animalistic design inspiration. His iconic buzzsaw weapon has caused some serious damage, as well as those giant hooks. He’s had some of the most damaging fights with Godzilla, making him an important addition to this list.
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was—spoilers!—literally the death of Godzilla. It was also the last film to be scored by Akira Ifukube. This was truly the end of an era, and although the enemy has a dreadful name, he was a proper sendoff. Destoroyah resembles a dragon, thanks to his Godzilla-like appearance and giant wings. So, it isn’t the most original design.
However, his origin is connected to the Oxygen Destroyer, and the rivalry gets seriously personal. After the man-sized Destoroyahs all combine into the familiar giant, they kill Godzilla Junior. This is awful for Godzilla and warns fans that this continuity has no hope of survival. The final battle is appropriately epic.
Another one of the more famous kaiju, the original Rodan film was both inane and poorly made. However, its ruthless camp makes it a great guilty pleasure. And there is no denying how much people love dinosaurs. Our favorite irradiated pteranodon has been a staple of the Toho kaiju series.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t always been allowed the best effects. However, his turn in the new Godzilla: King of the Monsters was definitely visually appealing. And Rodan’s shriek is also pretty neat; effective enough for Toho to remix the sound for subsequent monsters.
Of course, the only appropriate response to Godzilla is to make a giant robot version of him. After his introduction as an alien threat in the ’70s, Mechagodzilla has consistently been man-made. And given how great Godzilla’s design already is, the mechanical look was an ace in the hole. Mechagodzilla has actually been featured in some of the best Godzilla films available. And without him, we wouldn’t have anything like Guillermo Del Toro’s fun blockbuster Pacific Rim.
Mechagodzilla allows humans to legitimately stand against the antagonistic Godzilla, raising the stakes. It also gives writers the freedom to arm it with any new weapon they can possibly imagine. It’s gotten pretty crazy, and inventive.
1 King Ghidorah
Like the Joker, King Ghidorah has a variety of origin stories. And he’s also Godzilla’s greatest foe. Although Ghidorah’s design is simply that of a three-headed dragon, can there be anything better? Like Rodan, it was partially inspired by Greek Mythology. This made Ghidorah’s design more elaborate and threatening than the Earthly influences of other kaiju. Also, Ghidorah’s abilities are both iconic and countless. He can definitely fly, and always breathes gravity beams.
He’s also been known to defy physics, generate winds with the force of a hurricane, regenerate his body, and sap energy from his enemies. Ghidorah is easily the most ruthless, powerful force to ever oppose Godzilla, and that reputation continues in the MonsterVerse.