Look out, Tokyo! On Friday, Godzilla’s set to rise from the depths and end a ten-year cinematic hiatus in an all-new movie (alongside Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston). To celebrate, we’ve listed a few things you might not know about the world’s greatest city-stomper.
1. His Original Name, Gojira, was the nickname of a tough-guy worker at Japan's Toho Studios.
A blend of the English word gorilla and the Japanese word kujira (which means whale), the name caught the ear of character co-creator Eiji Tsuburaya, who borrowed it for the title of his 1954 black-and-white creature feature. The film was a massive hit, and executives at Japan’s Toho Studios hoped to give it an American release, but worried about the title’s marketability abroad. Thus, "Gojira” became “Godzilla” in the U.S.
2. Godzilla’s Classic Roar Was Produced by Rubbing a Leather Glove Over a Bass Violin String.
As you can hear in the video above, it’s changed quite a bit over the years.
3. In Early Storyboards, the Monster Was Depicted as a Giant, Mutated Octopus.
Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka went with a dinosaur-like design instead.
4. A 1992 Nike Ad Featured Godzilla Playing Basketball Against Charles Barkley.
The commercial, which was filmed over the course of eight days, was also adapted into a comic book.
5. He Also Helped Sell Dr Pepper in 1985
That wasn't their first collaboration: The soft drink was featured in the 1984 film The Return of Godzilla.
6. Japanese Baseball Star Hideki Matsui Was Nicknamed “Godzilla” For His Monstrous Batting Prowess .
Matsui helped the Yankees bring home a championship in 2009 and was named World Series MVP for his efforts. However, the undisputed highlight of his professional career came seven years earlier, when Matsui made a very brief cameo in the film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.
7. A Church in the City of Zillah, Washington Decided to Have Fun with an Obvious Homonym.
The Church of God-Zillah was founded decades before the radioactive monster’s conception, but that didn’t stop the congregation from tipping its hat to the odd coincidence: just behind the church, a steel wireframe dinosaur statue can be seen clutching a cross and sign. “I’m not really sure the denomination likes being affiliated with a big lizard … but so far they’ve been pretty cool,” said Reverend Gary Conner.
8. George Takei Got His Start in Acting by Dubbing Over Japanese Monster Movies.
Listen for his rich baritone in the English-language version of Godzilla’s second film—Godzilla Raids Again (first released in Japan in 1955). Previously, the Star Trek legend had broken into the film industry by doing similar work on Rodan, another Toho monster flick.
9. During an Action Sequence in Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964), the Godzilla Suit Accidentally Caught Fire.
Amazingly, this footage made the final cut (fast-forward to the 1:03 mark in this clip to see it for yourself).
10. A Godzilla Suit Was Stolen Then Lost, And Scared The Dickens Out Of An Elderly Woman.
In 1992, one of the monster’s costumes (worth a whopping $39,000) was taken from a Toho garage, only to be found washed up on the shores of Lake Okutama (near Tokyo), where it inadvertently terrified an older lady who’d gone out for a stroll.
11. Batman vs Godzilla—Starring Adam West—Was Discussed, But Never Produced
“Holy radiation burns, Batman!” Sadly, this idea never saw the light of day, so one can only imagine what sort of quirky exclamations Burt Ward’s Robin might have come up with.
12. However, He Did Fight The Avengers.
Marvel ran a 24-issue series featuring the big G from 1977 to 1979, in which he also squared off against the Fantastic Four.
13. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1996) Contains A Brilliant Godzilla Homage
During the climax, an irate T. rex terrorizes San Diego. At one point in the carnage, a few Japanese tourists can be seen running for their lives, one of whom shouts in Japanese, “I left Japan to get away from this!”
14. Godzilla vs the Sea Monster (1966) Was Originally Supposed to be a King Kong Movie.
Toho had already produced two (extremely) low-budget King Kong pictures and hoped that this one, which pitted the ape against a giant lobster, would be their third. However, after losing the necessary rights for Kong’s likeness, the project was simply converted into Godzilla’s seventh film.
15. The 1998 American Godzilla Reboot Starred The Simpsons' Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, and Nancy Cartwright.
For over two decades, the trio have voiced dozens of Springfield’s most recognizable residents. Among these are Bart Simpson (Cartwright), Ned Flanders (Shearer), and Moe Szyslak (Azaria).
16. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1992) Unwittingly Caused an International Controversy
Though beloved by fans, the film was condemned as “anti-American” by some Western viewers. A scene of particular contention took place during the Pacific theater of World War II and showed a troop of U.S. soldiers being massacred at the hands of a giant dinosaur as their Japanese adversaries look on in relief.
17. Godzilla (and His Reptilian Offspring) Once Promoted Good Parenting.
The PSA was created by The Ad Council in 2008.
18. Two of the Creature's Earlier Films Were Used as Fodder on Mystery Science Theater 3000
Godzilla vs the Sea Monster and Godzilla vs Megalon were riffed by TV’s favorite hecklers in 1991. Check out a delightful reel above.
19. Big Shocker: Scientists Say that Godzilla Could Never Actually Exist.
What a buzzkill. Paleontologist Mike P. Taylor claims that the limb cartilage in a Godzilla-sized animal would be crushed “like over-ripe watermelons” by its own body weight.
20. An Actual Dinosaur Was Named After the Monster.
Discovered in northeastern New Mexico, Gojirasaurus quayi was roughly 18 feet long and lived some 210 million years ago during the Triassic period.
21. Patrick Stewart Presented Godzilla with an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.
“We’ve all heard about his temper, about the people he stepped on on his way to the top,” Stewart said during the ceremony. “In this world of stars and superstars, it would be no exaggeration to say [that] he is the biggest.”
22. The monster has Also Earned a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Godzilla’s induction came in 2004 to commemorate his 50th birthday.
23. A 20-Foot-Tall Godzilla Statue Is On Display in Tokyo
Can you imagine Troy building a monument to honor wooden horses? In any event, Tokyo’s Godzilla statue stalks the city’s Yūrakuchō neighborhood.
24. There’s a Three-Story Godzilla That Doubles as a Slide in Kurihama Flower Park.
Kids can slide down his tail, but might have misgivings about the entry point (as will some adults).
25. He’s Been Referenced in Countless Cartoons, From Futurama to South Park to Animaniacs.
We’d be remiss if this list didn’t also acknowledge Reptar, a leek-green Godzilla look-alike adored by Tommy Pickles and company on Nickelodeon’s Rugrats series. The babies watch a Reptar movie in one episode, complete with badly-dubbed Japanese characters.