After watching Godzilla (2014) and with the upcoming release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, you might be wondering this very thing. I’m going to pause and let you know HEY, I’M ABOUT TO SPOIL STUFF FROM THE GODZILLA FRANCHISE (multiple eras)! Are you still here? Cool! Then you consent to the incoming spoilers and accept responsibility for reading.
At the end of Godzilla (2014), it seems like the big guy is dead. Then, after languishing in the ruins of San Francisco for a while — probably napping by his standards — he pops up and meanders back into the ocean…I assume to nap some more, so he’s ready to kick the snot out of King Ghidorah in May. But this caused some confusion for people who haven’t been longtime fans of the Kaiju. I’ve had a few people ask me if Godzilla can die.
Well, that’s a question, isn’t it? How can a monster, which keeps coming back for new movies in multiple eras, stay dead? The whole purpose of Godzilla is that he’s an unstoppable, walking, atomic bomb. But — and there is always a but — that doesn’t mean he can’t die. See, across the eras, Godzilla has actually been killed a few times.
So When Has Godzilla Died?
The first was the original 1954 Gojira, where he was killed by the Oxygen Destroyer. The film was a reaction to the fallout left behind by the atomic bombs. Gojira gave a face to the horrible side effects of the attack. The designers drew inspiration from the bomb, and the movie focuses heavily on overcrowded hospitals and the relentless power of Godzilla. He was a manifestation of the terror that they could fight — and kill. His death in this movie is symbolic. Even more symbolic was the creator of the bomb that destroyed Godzilla dying so that no one would ever make another bomb like it. Gojira was the only movie in the Showa era that killed the big G.
In the Heisei series, he actually died twice. The more known death is in Godzilla vs. Destroyah. Godzilla is in “burning mode” because his heart is literally melting down. Like a reactor in meltdown, Godzilla was burning up from the inside out. In the end, he perishes, and his son steps up to defeat Destroyah and becomes the next Godzilla. It’s one of the best movies from the era, and I highly recommend you give it a watch if you haven’t yet.
The lesser known death from the series is in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. A lot of fans don’t consider this a “real death” because he is brought back to life by Rodan. Yes, he ends up beating Mechagodzilla before the end of the film — but MechaGodzilla put him in the ground. It counts, he died — even if it was temporary. The Heisei Mechagodzilla is the only version of the mosnter who takes down Godzilla. The King of Monsters wins in every other encounter.
In the Shinsei (or Millennium, depending on your preference) series, Godzilla dies once…sort of…mostly. Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (That title is such a mouthful) — Godzilla blows up. I should mention this Godzilla is actually the same Godzilla from Gojira, so technically that death doesn’t count now? The plot of this movie is weird — but no more bizarre than a lot of the Godzilla movies. But it is weird enough for me to explain how he makes his return. See, he comes back to life and is possessed by the ghosts of people killed by the Japanese in WWII who want to punish the country for trying to forget their war crimes. King Ghidorah is the good guy (weird I know) and in the end he is defeated, but Godzilla goes down too. Now, I say “mostly” dead because the movie ends with Godzilla’s still-beating heart sitting on the ocean floor. It’s easy to guess he he will be back. So we’ll call this a half of a point to the Godzilla death count.
The One That Doesn’t Count
The last death is one I don’t personally count — and I know I’m not alone. It comes from the American 1998 Godzilla. It’s a movie we don’t talk about. I consider this version GINO (Godzilla In Name Only). It doesn’t fit within the setting, it feels way off base from other versions, and they made “Godzilla” an overgrown lizard. Don’t even get me started on the slapstick scene of the babies sliding around on gumballs. Man, I get mad even thinking about it. Technically GINO died at the end of the movie, but I almost want to make it a -1 to the death count because they did us a favor by killing it off.
Will Godzilla die in Legendary’s Monsterverse? Probably not. Godzilla: King of the Monsters can’t end in his death. Legendary has already announced that Godzilla vs. King Kong is up next on their list. Don’t be worried about the big guy this round. I know I’ll be watching it on May 31st when it comes out. Sure, their first Godzilla (the 2014 one) only had a cameo from Godzilla. But I have it on good authority Legendary learned from their mistakes, and this is going to be giant monsters front to back.