25 Fun Facts About Godzilla

A scene from Godzilla (1954).
A scene from Godzilla (1954).
The Criterion Collection

Look out, Tokyo! On May 31, Godzilla is set to rise from the depths (again) and do battle with some familiar foes in Michael Dougherty's Godzilla: King of the Monsters. To celebrate his legacy, we’ve put together a list of things that even hardcore fans might not know about the world’s greatest city-stomper.

1. His original name, Gojira, was rumored to be the nickname of a tough guy at Toho Studios.

According to Ishiro Honda (who directed the first Godzilla film), “There was this big—I mean huge—fellow working in Toho’s publicity department, and other employees would say, ‘That guy’s as big as a gorilla.’ ‘No, he’s almost as big as a kujira [the Japanese word for whale].’ Over time, the two mixed and he was nicknamed 'Gojira.'"

It's a fun story, but in 1998, Honda’s widow dismissed this account, telling the BBC: “The backstage boys at Toho loved to joke around with tall stories, but I don’t believe that one."

2. Godzilla’s classic roar is a surprising mix of sounds.

In the original 1954 movie, Godzilla's iconic roar was produced by rubbing a pine tar-coated leather glove over a double bass string. As you can hear in the video above, Godzilla's roar has changed quite a bit over the years.

3. Godzilla was originally going to be a giant, mutated octopus.

It's part of movie lore by now: the original idea for Godzilla was that he would look something like a giant octopus. Ultimately, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka (smartly) decided to go with a more dinosaur-like design instead.

4. Godzilla went head-to-head with Charles Barkley.

In 1992, Godzilla and NBA star Charles Barkely faced off in a Nike ad. The commercial, which was filmed over the course of eight days, was also adapted into a comic book.

5. Godzilla hawked Dr. Pepper in 1985.

Nike wasn't the first brand that Godzilla shilled for. In 1985, he appeared in commercials for Dr. Pepper—and that wasn't even their first collaboration: The soft drink was featured in the 1984 film The Return of Godzilla and again in Godzilla 1985.

6. Japanese baseball star Hideki Matsui was nicknamed “Godzilla” early in his career.

People started calling Hideki Matsui “Godzilla” back in his high school days, both because of his monstrous hitting prowess and a bad case of teenage acne. The acne went away, but the nickname stuck. In 2009, he helped the New York Yankees bring home their 27th championship and was named World Series MVP for his efforts. But you know what’s even cooler? The fact that Matsui made a brief cameo in the 2002 film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.

7. A church in Zillah, Washington decided to have fun with a 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,” Reverend Gary Conner said.

8. George Takei got his show business start dubbing Japanese monster movies.

Listen for George Takei's rich baritone in the English-language version of Godzilla’s second film, Godzilla Raids Again, which was 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 1964's Godzilla vs. Mothra, the Godzilla suit accidentally caught on fire.

Amazingly, this footage made the final cut (fast-forward to the 1:03 mark in the clip above to see it for yourself).

10. A Godzilla suit was stolen, then lost, then randomly washed ashore.

In 1992, one of the monster’s costumes (worth a whopping $39,000) was stolen from a Toho garage, only to be found washed up on the shores of Lake Okutama (near Tokyo), where it inadvertently terrified a woman who was out for a stroll.

11. A Batman vs. Godzilla crossover movie was discussed, but never produced.

“Holy thermonuclear breath, Batman!” Since this idea never saw the light of day, we can only imagine how Robin would’ve reacted to the irradiated giant.

12. Godzilla fought The Avengers.

From 1977 to 1979, Marvel ran a 24-issue comic book series featuring Godzilla, which saw him square off against both the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

13. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1996) Contains A Godzilla Homage.

During the climax of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 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.

In the 1960s, Toho developed a story about King Kong fighting a massive lobster named Ebirah. Eventually, the studio’s American partners decided they didn’t like this concept, so Toho converted the basic premise into a new Godzilla adventure.

15. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) unwittingly caused an international controversy.

Though beloved by fans, 1991's Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah 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.

16. Two of the Godzilla's earlier films aired on Mystery Science Theater 3000

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Godzilla vs. Megalon were riffed by TV’s favorite hecklers in 1991.

17. 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.

18. Godzilla (and his reptilian offspring) once promoted good parenting.

In 2008, Godzilla and his family starred in a PSA created by The Ad Council.

19. Paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter named a Triassic dinosaur after godzilla in 1997.

Gojirasaurus quayi was discovered in northeastern New Mexico in 1997. The creature was roughly 18 feet long and lived some 210 million years ago during the Triassic period. (Note that the scientific validity of this species has become a topic of debate.)

20. 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.”

21. Godzilla has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Godzilla's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
iStock/stefanoborsani

Godzilla’s induction came in 2004 to commemorate his 50th birthday.

22. A Godzilla statue is on display in Tokyo.

Godzilla’s likeness stands guard outside the Hibiya Chanter building in Tokyo. The statue is 8.2 feet tall, excluding the platform. When this thing went up in 2018, it replaced an earlier Godzilla sculpture that had been a local landmark since 1995.

23. 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).

24. Godzilla has 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.

25. It takes an oxygen destroyer to kill Godzilla.

Over the course of his 65 years of existence, people have tried to come up with all sorts of inventive ways to kill Godzilla, from burying him in hot magma to attacking him with asteroids. But the monster has always prevailed ... unless there's an oxygen destroyer in the area. The fictional weapon made its first appearance in the original 1954 movie, and it will play a role in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, too.

"It appears as an important key item to the story, this is not a cameo," director Michael Dougherty told Cinema Today. "Of course there will also be other weapons created by humanity that will be shown."

This story has been updated for 2019.

10 Dramatic Downton Abbey Fan Theories

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Despite its exhaustively polished veneer, Downton Abbey was always a soap opera. Julian Fellowes's historical drama about a family of aristocrats and their many servants could never resist a good shocker, and it deployed plenty of them over the course of six seasons. The valet was suspected of murder (twice). One of the Crawley sisters got knocked up by her older married boyfriend, who promptly went missing. And another sister’s first sexual encounter ended in death. Considering all this, it should come as no surprise that fans have developed similarly wacky theories about the show. These fan theories include secret parentage, undercover spies, and, of course, poison.

Brush up on the best of them before the Downton Abbey movie hits theaters—just in case the whole miscarriage curse comes up.

1. Mr. Carson is Lady Mary’s father.

This theory all comes down to eyes. As you may recall from science class, certain genes are dominant and others are recessive. This is perhaps most easily understood through eye color, where brown eye color, a dominant gene, is expressed as BB and blue eye color, a recessive gene, is expressed as bb. A parent with brown eyes might carry the recessive blue eye gene (i.e. Bb), but if you plot out genetic probabilities on a basic Punnett square, two blue-eyed parents with double bbs have seemingly no shot at producing a Bb baby. Now, what does any of this have to do with Downton Abbey? Both Lord and Lady Grantham have blue eyes, but their eldest daughter, Mary, has brown eyes. This has led some fans to speculate that Lady Mary is actually the daughter of Carson, the family’s beloved butler who has always acted as as sort of second father to Mary. As debunkers have noted, two blue-eyed people can have a brown-eyed child, because recessive genes aren’t that simple. But isn’t it wild to think of Carson and Cora having an affair?

2. Thomas Barrow poisoned Kemal Pamuk.

One of the soapiest subplots of Downton Abbey's first season involved “poor Mr. Pamuk,” the dashing Turkish diplomat who makes a fateful visit to the Abbey. After enjoying a day of fox hunting and an evening of sparkling conversation, Kemal Pamuk drops dead ... right in Lady Mary’s bed. The cause, it is later revealed, was a heart attack, but many viewers suspected something more sinister. Earlier in the episode, the Crawleys’ closeted footman, Thomas Barrow, made a pass at Pamuk, which the diplomat rejected quite forcefully—so much so that he threatened to get Thomas fired. That placed the footman in a tricky situation, but it was nothing a little poison couldn't fix, and that’s exactly why some fans believe Thomas slipped something into Mr. Pamuk’s dinner.

3. Lady Grantham’s miscarriage started a curse.

In the Season 1 finale, tragedy strikes. The newly pregnant Lady Grantham slips on a bar of soap, falling onto the bathroom tiles and inducing a miscarriage. It’s a sad moment, but it’s also, Reddit claims, the source of the house’s future misfortune. According to this theory, the miscarriage kicks off a curse of deadly pregnancies: Lady Sybil dies in childbirth; Matthew Crawley dies in a car accident soon after the birth of his son; and when the maid Ethel Parks becomes pregnant with Major Bryant’s child, he dies, too.

4. Mr. Bates is actually a bad guy.

Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Downton Abbey invests a lot of time and effort in convincing us that John Bates, Lord Grantham's trusty, is a great guy—despite his checkered past and multiple murder allegations. But what if everyone’s assumptions about Bates are exactly right? Some Redditors believe Bates is just a remorseless serial killer, pointing to his intense hatred of his first wife and “creepy vibes” as evidence. Anna had better watch out.

5. Michael Gregson is a spy.

Lady Edith’s boss and lover Michael Gregson is the publisher of a London magazine, The Sketch. Thanks to his job, he knows tons of important people, travels all over the world, and speaks multiple languages. He eventually disappears inside Germany in season 4, and later dispatches to the Crawley family imply that he was a victim of Adolf Hitler’s “thugs.” (The show timeline places Gregson in Munich right around the time of the Beer Hall Putsch.) Or at least, that’s the official story. Another one suggests that Gregson was a British spy gathering intel on the insurgent Nazis—and he might not have died at all. His superiors simply needed to feed Edith a lie that would discourage her from poking around, so they made up a cover story that someone who follows the news would believe.

6. Lady Rosamund Painswick is Lady Edith’s mother.

When Lady Edith becomes pregnant with Michael Gregson’s child, she finds a strong support system in her aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick. Upon learning Edith’s secret, Rosamund travels to Downton Abbey to help her niece through her pregnancy, and suggests adoption options as the due date draws near. Some fans have interpreted this empathy as a clue that Rosamund, not Lady Grantham, is Edith’s true mother. It could also explain why Edith looks (and behaves) so different from her sisters. Or it could just be a sign that Rosamund cares about her niece.

7. Lady Mary’s “operation” was IVF.

In season 3, Lady Mary claims to have undergone a “small operation” that will help her start a family with Matthew. It’s maddeningly unclear what this operation entails, but one wild guess is that she had an early version of IVF. The complete crackpot theory is that this was a cover for Matthew’s infertility, which the doctors wouldn’t disclose to him, presumably to preserve his 1920s masculinity.

8. Lady Mary’s son George becomes a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II.

Lady Mary’s son George is only five years old in the series finale of Downton Abbey. But that means he would theoretically be 18 in the fall of 1939, which is exactly when World War II broke out in Europe. He would almost certainly enlist, as show creator Julian Fellowes himself has suggested. But Decider has more specifically theorized that George would join the Royal Air Force (RAF), “with a desire to rebel against his emotionally distant mother and find purpose in a greater cause.” Sounds like George would be taking part in some dangerous missions, putting the entire family’s future at risk.

9. Public tours keep the estate alive.

The Crawleys spend much of Downton Abbey fretting about the future management of their estate—partially because Lord Grantham is kind of bad at it. But Lady Mary has taken over when the series ends, and Fellowes believes she’d find savvy ways to keep her family’s home in their hands. “She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did,” Fellowes told Deadline. “And she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters. My own belief is that the Crawleys would still be there.”

10. The Dowager Countess keeps Denker and Spratt around for the drama.

Gladys Denker is a maid to the Dowager Countess. Septimus Spratt is her butler. These two do not like each other, and they’re quite public about it. Denker and Spratt’s unprofessional squabbles would’ve gotten plenty of other servants fired, but fans believe the Dowager Countess keeps them employed for her own amusement.

You Can Rent This Wizard of Oz-Themed Cottage in North Carolina

Airbnb
Airbnb

This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the classic 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. In addition to watching the film, you can opt for a more immersive way to celebrate the occasion. As Travel + Leisure reports, a cottage in West Jefferson, North Carolina offered on Airbnb is perfect for any traveling Oz fan—and it’s only $35 a night.

The studio cottage is considered a glamping destination and is slim on amenities—it has a breakfast nook, porch, sofa bed, and a Porta John—but the Oz-themed details more than make up for the lack of luxurious perks.

A pair of stockinged feet are visible under the home, hinting at a witch’s untimely demise; a character mural of Dorothy and her three escorts, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, appears on the side of the cabin; inside, various other decorations pay homage to Baum's books, including a pair of ruby slippers and a few stuffed Totos.

A cottage with a 'Wizard of Oz' theme in West Jefferson, North Carolina is pictured
Airbnb

If you go, you’ll have to act quickly. The cottage is open only in the spring, summer, and fall, as it has no heat.

The Airbnb listing has a perfect score across 16 reviews. You can book it here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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