The Most Epic Kaiju Showdowns
We all love the kaiju films for the metaphor and social commentary. Sometimes, we even like the people, whether they’re well-written characters with complex stories like in the ’90s Gamera films or simply silly fun like the people in Godzilla’s Shōwa Era.
However, we’re really watching these movies for the monsters. Very often, these beasts will battle it out and cause utter destruction and chaos. The history of kaiju is full of titanic showdowns and long-standing rivalries. It’s been this way since Godzilla’s early days, and audiences will probably never get sick of it. Smash, claw, bite, repeat. Check out this list of the most exciting fights in the kaiju genre, then grab some popcorn and watch them for yourself.
6. Gipsy Danger vs. Knifehead (Pacific Rim)
Guillermo del Toro is an accomplished director, and a lifelong kaiju fan. When he made his own kaiju movie, Pacific Rim, in 2013, it was clear that he absolutely loved the genre. His passion for the project shows through in every frame, especially when it comes to the very creatively designed monsters.
Though there were bigger fights later in the movie, and again in Pacific Rim: Uprising, it was the very first battle that introduced us to how special these movies are. Piloted by Yancy and Raleigh Becket, the Gipsy Danger — one of the massive Jaeger robots built to defend the world from kaiju — rescues an ocean-faring boat from the Knifehead kaiju. The punches land with intensity, and the monster is deliciously terrifying with all of the snarls and shrieks.
This robot vs. monster fight reminds fans of the best elements of Toho’s mecha-monster moments (Mechagodzilla, Mecha-King Ghidorah, etc.), combining nostalgia with modern artistry.
5. The Final Battle of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah was one of the most violent Godzilla movies. Sure, the violence was mostly monster on monster, but there was still quite a bit of blood and gore.
This was chiefly due to the new monster: Destoroyah. The red, demonic-looking beast was clearly inspired by the Xenomorph from Alien, complete with multiple forms, a crownlike head, and an inner jaw. This jaw was used on humans in the monster’s small form, and then later on Godzilla Junior.
The final battle between Godzilla, his son, and Destoroyah was colorful, bloody, and intense. The good monsters seemed to have the upper hand, but then Destoroyah killed Junior. This caused the adult Godzilla to wail mournfully and then unleash his fury upon the murderer. Never before have we seen Godzilla so pissed off.
The King destroys his son’s killer. This is saying something, for Destoroyah was one of the toughest beasts Godzilla ever faced. Eventually, Godzilla perishes from an intense radiation meltdown. Thankfully, G-Force and the Japanese military are able to use freezer weapons to keep his meltdown from destroying the world.
4. Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra vs. King Ghidorah (Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster)
Technically, 1968’s Destroy All Monsters had the biggest and most outlandish kaiju brawl of them all — but it was mostly a copy of something done several years earlier..
1964’s Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster featured, of course, Ghidorah, a formidable three-headed monster. It threatened to destroy the world and humanity’s only hope was in other monsters.
A young Mothra caterpillar, mostly a friend to humans, tried to convince Godzilla and Rodan to help her defeat Ghidorah. They refused, being much more content to fight each other and level the concrete jungles of man. The King of the Monsters and the volcanic King of the Skies actually argue with each other amid their boxing, translated by Mothra’s Shobijin Fairies (“Oh Godzilla, what horrible language!”). The fights between Godzilla and Rodan are pretty entertaining, but nowhere near as wild and imaginative as the film’s final fight.
Rodan and Godzilla see the young worm put up a valiant struggle against the golden dragon, and they eventually decide to help. What follows is the brawl to end all brawls, a massive romp of fun violence that can bring a smile to any viewer. Rodan carries Mothra on his back and flies over Ghidorah, using the caterpillar as something like a living artillery gun thanks to the insect’s mouth webbing. Godzilla throws rocks, kicks, punches, and uses his atomic breath, all while Ghidorah’s three gravity beams fly across the screen.
While the battle is entertaining and even humorous, it isn’t without an element of dread and suspense. It is a climactic showdown, after all, and the powerful music adds to the excitement.
3. Gamera vs Iris (Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris)
In the 1960s, Daiei Studios capitalized on the Godzilla craze by creating their own version: Gamera, the giant turtle, flying saucer, and friend to all children. The movies never really lived up to their Godzilla counterparts — that is, not until the Heisei Era of the 1990s.
Shusuke Kaneko’s Gamera trilogy is praised by fans for its complex storytelling, mythological themes, convincing actors, and dark tone. More importantly, the monsters were extremely well-designed, and the fight sequences exuded power and realism.
The best fight was between Gamera and Iris in the third film. Iris was an ancient enemy designed to destroy Gamera, and it thrived on death and negative feelings. After it bonded with a hate-filled teenage girl and drained the life out of numerous victims, it went after the heroic turtle. Its many tentacles could constrict Gamera, stab him, and strike him with energy beams. They fight a high-octane battle in the air before crashing to Earth and slugging it out some more.
The monsters are quite realistic, and they truly feel massive. Music, sound effects, and monster roars combine to create a riveting scene. There’s some personality too — Gamera sacrifices his arm so that it can regenerate as a flame limb strong enough to end Iris and save the girl he’s captured, Ayana.
2. The Final Battle of Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
Next on the list is another one directed by Shusuke Kaneko. In GMK, a possessed Godzilla is challenged by the ancient protectors of mountain, stream, and sea. The first guardian monster to attack is Baragon, who puts up quite a brave fight before being obliterated by Godzilla’s radiation beam.
The Baragon fight was awesome, but it’s the final battle that really delivers. Mothra, redesigned with projectile stingers, attacks the much larger Godzilla, scratching his head with her claws as he roars back at her. After being stung, he scratches at his wound and prepares to fight back. From the get go, Godzilla is very expressive, much more so than in most other Godzilla films.
Then Ghidorah arrives. The dragon is young and weaker than in other entries, so it can only electrocute Godzilla by biting him at first. Eventually, the weaker Ghidorah seems to be defeated, but he and Mothra still have a few tricks up their sleeves (not without great sacrifice, however).
All in all, the fight is very “tooth and claw,” much better than the “beam wars” of the Heisei Era. Like Kaneko’s Gamera films, the fights here are powerful, realistic, and very violent. And that epic music!
1. Godzilla vs. Kong
The most recent major kaiju film billed itself as the greatest monster smackdown of all time. It actually delivered on this promise, as the fights are seen by many (including longtime fans) as the best in the Godzilla series.
The first fight occurs when Kong is being transported across the ocean with the help of a fleet of aircraft carriers. Godzilla soon learns of his location and he pulls the chained Kong into the watery depths. It’s Godzilla’s home turf, and Kong can’t really move.
Then, the humans free Kong from his restraints. A brutal battle ensues, with Godzilla biting and clawing as Kong lands some seriously heavy punches. The fight ends in something of a draw. Both monsters retreat to their respective corners, for the moment.
The second duel is even more intense. The monsters fight in a city of neon lights under a score of music that is both epic and electronic. It’s clear that a lot of effort was put into this sequence. The attention to detail is amazing, and the digital beasts are impressively photorealistic. It’s definitely the best fight in the MonsterVerse, and maybe even the whole genre. There is also a clear winner, but you’ll have to watch to find out for yourself.
What’s your favorite kaiju battle? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!