Kaiju: Ranking the Top 5 Giant Monsters

There goes Tokyo… and the rest of the world

Raleigh: “I was fifteen when the first kaiju made land in San Francisco. By the time tanks, jets and missiles took it down, six days and 35 miles later, three cities were destroyed. Tens of thousands of lives were lost.”

Pacific Rim

The term kaiju is Japanese for “strange beast”. It became a catch-all term for giant monsters following the success of 1954’s Godzilla, but wasn’t widely used in America until Pacific Rim popularized it. There are thousands of kaiju in fiction, but only five will make this list.

We all know that Godzilla and King Kong would automatically earn the top two spots, so let’s make things interesting. Both Kings will be excluded from the list. Who are the Top 5 kaiju other than Kong and Godzilla? Let’s find out.

#5 Starro the Conqueror

Series of Origin: DC Comics
Created By: Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky

Starro:Hahaha! I’m back, losers!
Mister Terrific: But I-
Starro:Killed me? I psyched you out, sucker, and regrew myself from a piece of my own exploded tentaclaw! And get this, I no longer need my psychic face-spores to control your puny minds. Just my will and eyeball! I’m like Super-Starro!

Dark Knights: Metal

Superheroes go up against their fair share of kaiju. Most heroes can take down a giant monster, but Starro was dangerous enough that The Justice League formed to stop him.

Debuting in The Brave and the Bold #28, Starro is a giant space-faring starfish with psychic powers. He traveled the galaxy, conquering several planets before setting his sights on Earth. Starro rampaged through America, mind controlling humans into doing his bidding. He was eventually defeated by a coalition of Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and the Martian Manhunter, who formed the Justice League after the battle.

Starro the Conqueror reappeared through the years, constantly seeking a way to kill the Justice League and rule the world. He eventually learned to create starfish-shaped “face-spores” that could even control heroes with the strongest wills, an excuse for writers to have allied heroes fight.

Starro became a more important character during the event Dark Knights: Metal. He was given a childish personality and upgraded powers. Martian Manhunter convinced him to give heroism a try, leading Starro the Conqueror to join the Justice League. Geez, they’ll let anyone in these days.

#4 Fin Fang Foom

Series of Origin: Marvel Comics
Created by: Jack Kirby and Stan Lee 

Fin Fang Foom:We all have the choice to be a monster or a hero. Believe me, I know this lesson well. It is an easy path to become a beast… and it takes only a few missteps… the simplest nudge. To become a hero, though… that takes confidence and determination… that I have witnessed from you firsthand.”

Monsters Unleashed Vol. 3 #8

You didn’t think DC was the only universe where superheroes fight kaiju, do you? Marvel had several ongoing series featuring giant monsters running amok. The most popular and recurrent of the Marvel Monsters is Fin Fang Foom.

Debuting in Strange Tales #89, Fin Fang Foom is a Space Dragon from the idyllic world of Maklu IV. Foom was part of a group that planned to conquer a nearby world called Earth. Foom was left in suspended animation so he could avenge his fellow conquerors if they were defeated

Fin Fang Foom was awakened when a child accidentally entered his ship. The kid tricked him into destroying a nearby Communist base (did I mention this was in the ’60s?) before being sealed away again. He reawakened when a villain called The Mandarin stole several high-tech weapons from his ship. Foom sought revenge against the Mandarin, only to wind up fighting Iron Man as well.

Fin Fang Foom sporadically reappeared to fight Iron Man and The Avengers. He eventually tired of the battles and longed for a quiet life. Fin Fang Foom converted to Buddhism and got a job at a Chinese restaurant owned by the Fantastic Four. I’m not joking. Despite being semi-retired, Foom is begrudgingly willing to help heroes when they fight giant monsters.

#3 Gamera

Series of Origin: Gamera
Created by: Yonejiro Saito

Atlantean Tablet:The last hope: Gamera; We bestow it to the cradle of time. May it awaken alongside the shadow of evil: Gyaos.

Gamera: Guardian of the Universe

With all of Godzilla’s success, it was inevitable that a giant monster would be created to compete with him as the Pepsi to his Coke, the Apple to his Microsoft. Godzilla’s rival is Daiei Studio’s most famous kaiju: Gamera.

Gamera is a giant fanged turtle with the ability to breathe fire and fly. Originally portrayed as a rampaging monster created by the fallout from nuclear bomb tests, he soon became a heroic figure. Gamera is often called “The Friend of all Children” because of his tendency to protect children in danger, even fighting other kaiju to keep them safe. Just ignore the demolished cities in his wake. The kids are alright, and that’s what matters to him.

Gamera’s origins were revealed in a reboot trilogy. He was created by Atlantis to combat the Gyaos, a race of hyper-aggressive bird kaiju that they had also created. Gamera sealed them away and hibernated until they were awakened in the modern day, and he was needed again.

Gamera is surprisingly weak for a kaiju. He’s easily injured by anything that can get past his shell and often has to outwit stronger monsters. Gamera’s trump card is Mana, a magical energy source that lets him enhance his fire breath, shoot a laser from the center of his shell, and blow himself up in a kamikaze move. How’s that for Turtle Power?

#2 Mothra

Series of Origin: Mothra
Created by: Shinichiro Nakamura, Takehiko Fukunaga and Yoshie Hotta

Shobijin:Mothra, oh Mothra
If we were to call for help
Over time, over seas
Like a wave you’d come
Our guardian angel.

– Mothra’s Song (translated from Indonesian),

Mothra

You wouldn’t think much of an overgrown butterfly, but there’s a reason Mothra is often called the Queen of the Monsters.

Mothra is a kaiju from the mysterious Infant Island. Shortly after the island’s discovery, explorers encountered a pair of fairies called The Shobijin (played by pop duo The Peanuts). The Shobijin are Mothra’s priestesses and have a telepathic connection to her. When a greedy business person kidnapped the Shobijin to exploit them, they summoned Mothra to attack Japan and rescue them.

Mothra was popular and was quickly annexed into the Godzilla universe. She has been both an ally and enemy of Godzilla, sometimes attacking him while he rampages, other times fighting alongside him against other kaiju.

Mothra is one tough bug. She’s portrayed as an agile and clever fighter, using the wind from her flapping wings and poison scales to disorient enemies. Her powers were eventually upgraded to fire energy blasts and given scales that reflect lasers. The 90’s Godzilla movies and Rebirth of Mothra trilogy explicitly gave her magic abilities, including sealing spells and reincarnation.

#1 King Ghidorah

Series of Origin: Godzilla
Created by: Tomoyuki Tanaka

Metphies:Perhaps I should tell you the powerful and destructive name we Exif keep secret.
Haruo:Why me?
Metphies:Remember it when you are in battle and about to be swallowed in fear. There is a far greater destructive force lurking somewhere in space. Compared to that, Godzilla wouldn’t be worth the fear. [leans in to whisper] Ghidorah.

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle

Godzilla and Kong are not the only kaiju kings. There is one that even they fear. Our pick for the number one kaiju is The Golden Demise, The King of Terror: King Ghidorah.

Inspired by the mythical Yamata no Orochi, King Ghidorah is a three-headed dragon that can travel through space. Ghidorah destroyed countless worlds before turning his sights to Earth. Godzilla managed to repel him twice before killing King Ghidorah with the help of an army of monsters.

King Ghidorah has since become Godzilla’s archenemy, appearing in almost every retelling of the series. He is one of the few monsters that Godzilla usually needs help to defeat. King Ghidorah’s body language and cackling roar make it clear that he loves the destruction he causes. He’s like The Joker as a giant golden dragon.

King Ghidorah has the might to match his titles. He is able to fire “gravity bolts” from his mouths that resemble lightning and affect gravity. His wings can cause hurricane winds with every flap. Ghidorah is hard to hurt and heals quickly. Netflix’s anime Godzilla trilogy took his abilities to the logical conclusion and made King Ghidorah into a full-blown eldritch abomination. Is it any wonder that he’s our number one?

Who is your favorite kaiju? Is there one that surpasses these five? Tell us in the comments.

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