There are a lot of Godzilla films. It is a little mind-boggling how long this series has gone on for. People say there are a lot of James Bond or Marvel films out there? No. Godzilla tops them all. Many younger fans hoping to watch some of the films to hype themselves up for Godzilla: King of the Monsters often have no idea where to start. With all the films out there, there’s no way all of them can be good, right?
Well, with this handy-dandy list, newcomers can figure out which films are worth watching and which ones are not as important to see. While longtime fans can have fun seeing yet another list ranking every Godzilla film from worst to best.
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32 Godzilla’s Revenge
This is commonly regarded as the worst of the Godzilla series, and for good reason. The story focuses on a kid who is being bullied by people in real life. There are these mob guys after him…
And then the kid starts dreaming about Godzilla on Monster Island. Or, rather, Godzilla’s son, Minila. Who speaks English. And sounds…idiotic. The film is beyond stupid. Not to mention most of the film is just stock footage of other films. People who claim the American remake is the worst Godzilla film have never watched this downright painful film.
31 Son of Godzilla
Any film featuring Minila as a core plot point in the Showa Era of Godzilla films are borderline unwatchable. While it does have a general plot: Godzilla and his son becoming closer. Godzilla is a pretty awful dad in this who slowly becomes better.
There are no particularly memorable fights. The film isn’t unwatchable, but it isn’t a particularly exciting film, either. It’s the sort of thing that will put you to sleep watching it.
30 Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (AKA Ebirah, Horror of the Deep)
This film was originally created as a Toho King Kong film. There are many moments in the film that feels disjointed. While the giant crab Ebirah is not a particularly distinct monster. He’s just a giant crab. Seeing Godzilla and Mothra in a film together is nice, but the rest of the film?
It isn’t that this film is bad. The film is just very underwhelming.
29 Godzilla Anime Trilogy
This movie could have been much better. This trilogy of anime films is available on Netflix, but, since they form one core movie, it counts as one on this list. The Godzilla anime film is disappointing because of the potential it presents. It has some of the coolest ideas in the franchise, with Godzilla conquering the world and becoming a cosmic, gigantic monster.
It features Mechagodzilla, Ghidorah…but the films never come together as a cohesive whole. Not to mention the animation is so stiff and underwhelming. For Godzilla’s first anime films, it feels…underwhelming.
28 Godzilla vs. Gigan (AKA Godzilla on Monster Island)
Godzilla vs. Gigan is a mix of highs and lows. Gigan is one of the coolest kaiju in the whole Godzilla franchise. The idea of Anguirus and Godzilla teaming up to fight Ghidorah and Gigan is pretty cool. Not to mention, there is a little bit of blood in the final battle.
But there are a lot of problems. For one, the costumes look awful. Stiff. Ugly. The Godzilla suit is falling part. The Godzilla roar sounds screechy and awful. And — oh yeah — Godzilla talks. And it sounds idiotic. It’s telling that this film, which does so much interesting and cool stuff, is dragged down by this terrible creative decisions.
27 Return of Godzilla
There have been numerous attempts to present Godzilla as a solo threat to the whole of Japan. This is the first attempt since the original Godzilla film to present Godzilla as a solo-monster, out against the whole of Japan. It is a direct sequel to the original that ignores everything but the first film. In essence, it’s a reboot before reboots.
The film isn’t bad. But it’s certainly underwhelming. It features some very moody, dark visuals. The atmosphere is pretty intense. Regardless, the film really isn’t particularly memorable, especially considering the incredibly interesting sequels to this film, which rank among the best of the Godzilla films.
26 Godzilla (1998)
The 1998 Godzilla remake is notorious. It isn’t a great Godzilla film, but it gets far more hate than it probably deserves. The film is a movie about a giant monster who attacks New York, lays eggs in Madison Square Garden, and ends up being beaten by the military.
It isn’t a good Godzilla film, sure, but it isn’t a bad monster film. It doesn’t feature the insane moments that the Godzilla films are known for, but it’s pretty fun if you approach it the same way you’d approach any other monster.
25 Godzilla Raids Again
The first sequel to Godzilla is not a particularly great Godzilla film. Yes, it introduced Anguirus, one of the most beloved of the kaiju. Yes, it is the first film to establish the idea of the monster mash. And, yes, it is the last black-and-white Godzilla films, which gives it this sort of classic, timeless feel.
But the film isn’t particularly good. Especially when you watch it in the context of the later films, this one feels underwhelming.
24 Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla
Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla is a fairly underwhelming entry in the Heisei film. The Heisei Era had an obsession with connecting many of the kaiju to Godzilla. While some monsters, like Destroyah and Biollante, are distinct enough to become memorable in and of themselves, Spacegodzilla is just derivative. It’s an evil clone of Godzilla. From space.
The final fight is large and drawn out, but it lacks bite. It feels fairly lame. Toothless.
23 Godzilla vs. Megalon
Godzilla vs. Megalon is one of the silliest films in the movie. It isn’t a particularly good film in any technical metric. But that doesn’t change that it’s still an incredibly enjoyable movie. It features some of the cheesiest action, including the glorious “drop kick” scene.
But even the idea of the film is great. Underground people, angry at the surface, send a giant cockroach to destroy the world, which results in an Ultraman rip-off named Jet Jaguar coming to stop Megalon, but then Gigan and Godzilla get tangled up in all this — it’s pretty goofy, but so much fun.
22 Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
The Millenium Series of films is an odd beast. It doesn’t have a real sense of continuity, as each film (save for Tokyo S.O.S.) follows its own continuity. Each film is a sequel to the original.
This film does reference a group of mosquito monsters that appeared in the original Rodan film, which is a nice reference to the older films. However, the film itself is underwhelming. If not for the giant insect monsters and the military’s use of black holes, the film is…underwhelming. Good action, but forgettable.
21 Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
This sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla features a rematch between Godzilla and the new Mechagodzilla (Kiryu), as well as bringing in Mothra and her two larva for…reasons. The film is a big mess all over the place, though it does feature some of the best Mothra action scenes in the whole franchise. However, Mothra’s reasons for being there are kind of weird and make little sense.
The problem is, though, that it’s a bit too same-old. The prior film featured a very unique reinvention of Mechagodzilla and a lot of really clever action. This one isn’t bad, but it doesn’t do quite enough to stand out, since all the elements that made the prior film interesting are pushed aside to make room for Mothra.
20 Godzilla (2014)
Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla encountered controversy the moment it came out. While better received than the prior American remake, Edwards learned from prior mistakes when putting together his film. He kept Godzilla titanic, kept a lot of the iconic lore and powers intact…
But is the movie good? Complicated answer. Godzilla (2014) has a terrific final act and an effective first act. It’s the middle that suffers, thanks in part to killing off one of the best human characters, hiding the Big-G, and, of course, being just plain boring. The start and end of the movie are powerful, sure, but the middle half sagged too much for most audiences.
19 Destroy All Monsters
Destroy All Monsters is often regarded as one of the greatest monster mashes of all time. It features appearances from every Toho Kaiju to have appeared up until this point (except for King Kong). So why, then, is it so low on this list? Have you seen Destroy All Monsters lately?
It seems hypocritical for people to criticize Godzilla (2014) for not featuring Godzilla enough when the vast majority of Destroy All Monsters barely utilizes its massive cast of monsters. Most monsters appear as brief cameos, culminating in one beat-down fight where everyone pummels Ghidorah. It lacks tension, but it is fun in its own way. But it is far too overhyped.
18 Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster
This is the first of the monster mash kaiju films. In many respects, the upcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters film draws most heavily from this classic monster film. Godzilla and Rodan brawl throughout the film, with the nightmarish space alien Ghidorah descending on the Earth to leave the world in devastation. The real star of the film, however, is Mothra — the only kaiju trying to do the right thing in this film.
But the film has problems. The scene of Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra talking (and Godzilla using some vulgar language) is a little lame. The highlight, oddly enough, is Mothra trying to take on Ghidorah, one-on-one. Far outclassed, but still a pretty tense brawl.
17 Godzilla 2000
Godzilla 2000 was the first theatrical Toho Godzilla film to come out for years in the states. The film is another reboot of the franchise following Godzilla vs. Destroyah. For this reason, Godzilla 2000 is important to the franchise.
However, what makes Godzilla 2000 so interesting is Orga. This bizarre monster is a grotesque alien that assimilates Godzilla’s cells into himself in order to transform into a big, hungry boy. The film is a good movie with a great original monster, but when you look at the vastness of Godzilla’s history, it’s easily overlooked.
16 Godzilla vs. Hedorah
Godzilla vs. Hedorah is an acid trip. The film is so out there that it becomes fairly unforgettable. It features a weird pollution monster comprised of sewage, defecation, and waste…
But this movie is worth watching for the strange acid moments, surreal party scene where people wear fish masks, animation scenes, and scenes where people’s flesh is melted away and reduced to bones. It’s pretty grizzly and bizarre. And for this surreal, horrific quality, it is worth watching. Also, this is the movie where Godzilla flies.
15 Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
Godzilla vs. Monster Zero is perhaps the first film to establish Ghidorah as Godzilla’s nemesis. It features the only scene where Godzilla is on another planet other than Earth. It’s also the first of countless films where aliens come down to Earth to cause problems, which became a standard plot throughout the franchise.
But is it a particularly good Godzilla film? Yes. Yes it is. It features some of the best old-school Godzilla action. It features Godzilla doing a ridiculous dance. It’s simply superb.
14 Terror of Mechagodzilla
Terror of Mechagodzilla was the last film of the Showa Era. It is by far the weakest of the Era Finales (but Godzilla vs Destroyah and Godzilla Final Wars are a little hard to top), but it’s still one of the better entries in the series.
This film brings back Mechagodzilla, the villain from the prior film, following up as a direct sequel. Same aliens from the prior film, same monster…but this time they add in a second monster who is basically a fish-like version of Godzilla.
The film suffers from a “like the last film, only more” problem. Most of what it does is the same as Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, only bigger. In the prior film, Mechagodzilla got his head ripped off…so he does in this film, only there’s a second head under the last head. More violence. More gore. It makes for a fun film, but it has a sort of “seen it already” quality to it.
13 Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle For Earth
The Heisei Era’s introduction to Mothra was so successful that it led to a whole Mothra spin-off trilogy. Mothra is such a scene stealer in this film that you forget the star is supposed to be Godzilla. The film features Mothra as almost a Mother Earth figure, existing as a defender of nature and existence. This places Mothra in an obviously positive position for a kaiju, as a Goddess figure. While Godzilla is definitely a titan of destruction, Mothra is one of rebirth…
Until the appearance of an evil version of Mothra appears, which then pushes Godzilla even more out of the audience’s frame of attention. The film is a really good Mothra movie. But Godzilla? Much less so.
12 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II
This film revived Mechagodzilla, Rodan, and even Godzilla’s son for the Heisei Era. Introducing so many new characters like this might sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but somehow it all works. The film somehow makes the idea of Godzilla’s son fascinating and cool, which set a precedent for the next few films.
This film builds MechaGodzilla from the remains of MechaGhidorah from Godzilla vs. Ghidorah, which offers a nice little bit of continuity. It feels like a real sequel that builds upon what came before. Rodan and Godzilla fight. Godzilla and Mechagodzilla fight. It’s all a ton of fun.
11 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla
This remake of Mechagodzilla is, like every Millenium film, a direct sequel to the original film. Mechagodzilla is, in this film, a machine built to fight Godzilla, built upon the remains of the Godzilla from the first film.
This film draws heavily from Neon Genesis Evangelion (ironic, since Evangelion‘s director would end up directing Shin Godzilla). Mechagodzilla (sorry, Kiryu) runs on battery power and requires a human pilot or else it goes berserk. It feels much like they wanted to remake Evangelion, which isn’t a big issue. After all, it’s a very fun, intense film where the military finally figures out a way to hit Godzilla where it hurts.
10 Godzilla Final Wars
Godzilla Final Wars is insane. It is the most ridiculous, most over-the-top film in the franchise. This is what Destroy All Monsters should have been. The film features tons of monsters from across the entire Godzilla continuity. You see tons of obscure monsters, from King Caesar to Headron to even the American remake Godzilla — Zilla. Gigan returns in a new, insane form with chainsaw claws. It’s just — this film is wild.
The action is ridiculous, stupid, and unabashedly entertaining. The film never gives you a second to breathe. Anyone looking for a coherent plot will be disappointed. But going into this film, you should know this film is insane. It feels like fanfiction written by a seven-year-old in the best possible way.
9 King Kong vs. Godzilla
About to be remade for next year, this classic brawl remains one of the greatest monster mash-ups of all time. Sure, the film ends inconclusively and the King Kong we see here is very little like the one from the 1933 film (most obviously this one is probably as big as the Empire State Building), but the fight itself? A classic.
It’s a classic in part because the final fight is just so even. Both combatants really use their own personal brand of fighting to get one over the other. Godzilla is raw power while Kong uses his brain. There are so many iconic moments from the ultimate title fight. Some people remember the scene where Godzilla and King Kong claw their way through a castle to get to one another, but one of the best, most underrated moments? Kong shoving a whole tree down Godzilla’s throat.
8 Godzilla vs. Ghidorah
Godzilla vs. Ghidorah is a fascinating movie, and it’s hard to even pinpoint which part is the best component of this film. You would think Ghidorah, now a product of time-traveling shenanigans would be the highlight of the film. And he is. The monstrous Ghidorah has a lot of incredibly cool scenes, including a moment where Godzilla blows off Ghidorah’s head, only to later become a cyborg known as MechaGhidorah.
But the time travel sequence to the 1940s is incredibly interesting as well. The idea of the Godzillasaurus is fascinating, but the relationship a Japanese war veteran has with Godzilla over the years is a surprisingly poignant subplot. Especially the bluntly nihilistic way that story-line wraps up.
7 Godzilla vs. Biollante
Godzilla vs. Biollante is arguably the most overlooked film in the entire Godzilla franchise. Biollante is possibly the most creative and unique of Toho’s kaiju — being born from Godzilla’s very cells and possibly the reincarnation of a young girl. The monster is absolutely nightmarish, invoking imagery from a Lovecraftian horror story more than your average kaiju film.
The film itself ranks as one of the most emotionally tense of Godzilla’s films…and easily one of the few films that attempt to be atmospheric.
6 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
The 2oth Anniversary film, Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla is a classic. After half a dozen child-friendly monster mashes, this film manages to make Godzilla cool again. The film features several monsters (Angurius, King Caesar) but the real star is Godzilla. This is the first film in years where Godzilla is shown as cool and threatening.
Oh, but then there’s Mechagodzilla. When you take a look at the classic Godzilla villains, Mechagodzilla is just as iconic as Mothra or Ghidorah. Yet he appeared years after they did. Why? Because Mechagodzilla is awesome, from his design and powers and…everything. Of note, the scene where Mechagodzilla’s disguise is ripped away in a burning, smoldering city. Classic.
5 Godzilla vs. Destroyah
For the 40h Anniversary of the original Godzilla film, Toho decided to just kill Godzilla. The rebooted Heisei continuity ended with this epic finale. The idea of Godzilla melting down like a nuclear bomb results in one of the coolest looking Godzilla designs.
Destroyah, though, is the real star of the film. Spawned from the Oxygen Destroyer from the first film, a colony of monsters assemble into a literal devil monster. There are scenes where little Destroyahs attack civilians that are really cool. Of note, though, is Godzilla Jr. This is the best depiction of Godzilla’s son in any of the films. Oh, and this is the only film where Godzilla isn’t an unstoppable monster. Pretty cool stuff.
4 Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
This movie has way too long of a title. Even worse, Baragon, another monster who appears in this film, is basically the only kaiju left out of the title. But don’t let the ridiculous title ward you off. This is one of the greatest Godzilla films ever. Taking place in the Millenium Series, it exists as a direct sequel to the original film. It has a truly clever interpretation of Godzilla, as the embodiment of the lost souls of WWII. The film features some truly brutal violence and some great special effects.
Perhaps most intriguing of all, this is the only film where Ghidorah isn’t a villain. It’s quite interesting.
3 Mothra vs Godzilla (1964)
Mothra is arguably the most awe-inspiring of all the kaiju. Mothra is never particularly presented as powerful, yet is worshipped as divine. She is the only kaiju that seems interested in protecting the Earth, and, as such, is presented through a loving, soft lens.
Obviously, Mothra is far weaker than Godzilla, but it’s the ingenuity she demonstrates — and the ingenuity of her progeny — that makes her an effective match against Godzilla. Most kaiju films end up being about two mighty beasts clobbering one another, but this one? This one features a far more nuanced perspective on the world of the kaiju.
2 Shin Godzilla
Shin Godzilla is the most recently released live-action Godzilla film. It’s also easily one of the best. It doesn’t feature any monsters for Godzilla to fight. It’s essentially just a film about Japan reacting to Godzilla in a realistic fashion. We’ve seen that before.
But what makes Hideaki Anno’s film so effective is how real and how Lovecraftian the threat of Godzilla feels. It feels real due to the limitations of the Japanese government, the realistic damage, the political end of things struggling to uncover a way to stop this thing. However, it also feels like something out of a Lovecraftian horror story in how grotesque and all-powerful Godzilla appears to be. It’s one of the most creative reinventions of Godzilla ever to be released. It’s an almost perfect kaiju film. However…
There is no topping the original. The original Godzilla is a perfect monster movie. It is a simple story that channels a country’s fear of atomic destruction in the form of a giant monster. Every scene of destruction carries with it a weight. In later films, when Godzilla comes rumbling through a city, it’s presented as a loving, fun way of showing the monsters have come to town. Here, it’s a solemn affair, full of dread and tension. People die, and their deaths are felt.
One chilling moment that you would never see in the later films (save for maybe Shin Godzilla) is when you see a mother cradling her children as a building crumbles upon them. It’s small, but it adds a sense of gravity to each building Godzilla destroys. Because this film isn’t about monsters being cool. It’s about true, honest-to-God disaster. It’s the only film where Godzilla isn’t just a monster; he’s a force of nature. Unstoppable. Untamed.