All 37 Godzilla Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best


Godzilla rightfully holds the title of « King of the Monsters, » being the title character of one of the longest-running series in cinema history. The character first appeared almost 70 years ago, and has appeared in a total of 36 feature films ever since, on top of appearances in TV shows, video games, comic books, and also finding himself parodied/referenced in other media.

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Movie monsters don’t get more iconic or prolific, with one of the franchise’s strengths being that its various films have different tones and belong to different genres, and Godzilla himself is sometimes depicted as villainous, heroic, or somewhere in between. The fact there have been Japanese and American takes on the character also adds to Godzilla‘s overall variety and longevity as a series. What follows is a ranking of all the Godzilla movies from worst to best, excluding TV shows (like 2021’s Singular Point) and Americanized re-edits (like 1956’s English-language recut of the original film).

37 ‘Godzilla’ (1998)

Directed by Roland Emmerich

Image via Sony Pictures

1998’s Godzilla is a miserable slog of a film. It was the first American-produced take on Godzilla, and easily stands as the worst, with a large budget and all the resources Hollywood can offer doing nothing to make this fun, interesting, memorable, or even so-bad-it’s-good. It’s easily one of the worst movies of 1998, and is notorious among fans of the beloved giant radioactive lizard for not representing what makes this series of films good, and largely missing the point again and again throughout its runtime.

Instead of being so-bad-it’s-good, it’s just so bad. Anyone who sees this first may well be turned off Godzilla for good, and really, the only good that came out of this movie is the fact that it gets made fun of in a couple of Japanese Godzilla movies released in its wake (more on those later).

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36 ‘Godzilla: The Planet Eater’ (2018)

Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita

Godzilla The Planet Eater - 2018
Image via Toho Visual Entertainment

Between 2017 and 2018, there was a trilogy of Godzilla movies that had genuine potential, but never really lived up to it. These stood out for being entirely animated and having a story set 20,000 years into the future, following humanity trying to reclaim, Earth which has been taken over by Godzilla.

Godzilla: The Planet Eater is the third in the trilogy and serves as a low point after a so-so first movie and a disappointing second. The non-monster scenes are dull and repetitive, the animation has become less appealing, and even a « fight » between Godzilla and King Ghidorah (with a new look) proves surprisingly boring. Avoid at all costs, as Godzilla: The Planet Eater is about as far from a great anime movie as an animated Japanese movie could ever be.

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35 ‘All Monsters Attack’ (1969)

Directed by Ishirō Honda

All-Monsters-Attack
Image Via Toho

Of the classic Japanese Godzilla movies released between 1954 and 1975 (comprising the « Showa Era » of Godzilla), 1969’s All Monsters Attack is easy to single out as a low point. The premise itself, while kid-focused, isn’t awful, with it centering on a bullied child who bonds with Godzilla’s son, Minilla, who’s also being bullied.

However, the fact these interactions appear in dream sequences lowers much of the emotion that otherwise might be there. Furthermore, the vast majority of the monster scenes here are made up of archival footage from previous movies, making All Monsters Attack feel cheap, rushed, and a bit like a cash grab. Clip show episodes in TV series are often regarded as lowlights of any show they appear in, with very few exceptions, and All Monsters Attack disappoints in similar ways.

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34 ‘Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle’ (2018)

Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita

Godzilla City on the Edge of Battle - 2018
Image via Toho Visual Entertainment

The second movie in the aforementioned Godzilla anime trilogy is admittedly better than the third… just. It’s still not good; more so just a bit less boring, with this one featuring the continued war between humanity and Godzilla over Earth, and teasing a new take on famed Godzilla foe Mechagodzilla.

Yet it’s not really Mechagodzilla. Here, the film introduces the ludicrous idea of « Mechagodzilla City, » a huge mass of robotics and buildings that could be used to combat Godzilla. It sounds like it could be really goofy in a kind of fun way, but the movie doesn’t have much fun with it, resulting in a strangely lifeless and tiring watch. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle isn’t a good sci-fi movie and has little spectacle or impressive elements to offer, and should be avoided.

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle
Release Date
May 18, 2018

Genres
Action, Animation, Sci-Fi

Runtime
105

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33 ‘Son of Godzilla’ (1967)

Directed by Jun Fukuda

son-of-godzilla-manilla
Image via Toho

Son of Godzilla marks a point within the overall Godzilla series ranking where the movies become, at worst, bearable. That’s not to say that Son of Godzilla is great or even merely underrated; more just that it signifies being officially past the bad movies in the series, whereby an overall ranking can move on to bigger and better things.

It’s the first appearance of Minilla, Godzilla’s adopted son, who’s one of the more divisive monsters in the series. The film’s at its best when it focuses on the awkward bonding between Godzilla and this small, somewhat grotesque-looking monster, though viewers have to be aware going in that it is one of the series’ goofiest and most child-friendly entries – in that way, Son of Godzilla feels more reminiscent of early-era Gamera movies than some of the more mature Godzilla films of the 1960s.

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32 ‘Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters’ (2017)

Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita

Godzilla_ Planet of the Monsters - 2017
Image via Toho

Before films #2 and #3 crushed any hope of the Godzilla anime trilogy being good, its first film, Planet of the Monsters, at least showed glimmers of promise. It’s at its best when it recounts what led to Godzilla taking over the planet in the prologue, with it then doing a serviceable job at introducing the conflict that (apparently) plays out across the rest of the trilogy, and as such, it has some things to offer in terms of offering interesting science fiction ideas and some solid action setpieces.

Planet of the Monsters isn’t awful, but much of its enjoyment comes from the hope that it’s building up things that will pay off. They never paid off, though, so it’s ultimately not worth watching this mostly competent – if unremarkable – animated movie for the risk that it might make you waste time with the rest of the trilogy.

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31 ‘Invasion of Astro-Monster’ (1965)

Directed by Ishirō Honda

Invasion-of-astro-monster
Image Via Toho

During the Showa Era of Godzilla films, there was a tendency to capitalize on a successful movie with a follow-up right away. Usually, this involved bringing back certain characters the year after they were first seen, and though this could be fun, it rarely led to these sequels (of sorts) surpassing what came before, or feeling fresh. Given it was directed by acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Ishirō Honda, who made numerous Godzilla movies, it does deliver a certain amount of entertainment value.

So is the case with Invasion of Astro-Monster, a movie that hardcore fans of Godzilla will still enjoy, but outsiders may not find particularly enthralling. It brings back King Ghidorah just one year after his introduction, to slightly diminishing returns, but the film is still fun in places (most notably when Godzilla dances).

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30 ‘Godzilla 2000: Millennium’ (1999)

Directed by Takao Okawara

Godzilla 2000
Image via Toho

Look, Godzilla 2000: Millennium isn’t amazing, but compared to the miserable 1998 version of Godzilla that came out the year before, it felt like The Godfather (or Godzillafather?) Its title is also fitting, seeing as it ushered in the wild and unpredictable Millennium Era of Godzilla, which lasted from 1999 until 2004.

Anything would have looked good in comparison to the most recent theatrical Godzilla film, and so Godzilla 2000 plays things safe, having the title character exist as a force of nature and pitting him against a new monster called Orga in the final act. Godzilla 2000 is nothing earth-shattering, but as a giant monster movie, it gets the job done. Yes, it can be disappointing and some may find it to be close to a series nadir, but it benefits from looking much better compared to the Godzilla film from the previous year.

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29 ‘Godzilla Raids Again’ (1955)

Directed by Motoyoshi Oda

godzilla-anguirus-godzilla-raids-again-social-feature
Image via Toho

Coming out just one year after the original Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again is notable for two main reasons. The first is that it’s the only Godzilla film other than the original to be shot in black and white, and the second is that it’s the first time Godzilla is pitted against another giant monster – here, it’s series regular Anguirus.

For those reasons, it’s an interesting and sometimes engaging sequel, but it does feel a little rushed and uninspired. It paved the way for future movies to be about more than just humanity vs. Godzilla, but also fell very short of measuring up to the first film. Definitely not bad, and maybe a little over-hated, but nothing too special, either. It’s also interesting because it’s one of the original Japanese Godzilla movies that got an English-language/American-produced re-edit, 1959’s Gigantis, the Fire Monster.

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28 ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ (2019)

Directed by Michael Dougherty

Godzilla Battles Kaiju
Image via Legendary

It’s understandable why Godzilla: King of the Monsters has its supporters, and is generally seen by Godzilla fanatics as one of the better American takes on the character. It was the English-language debut for many of the series’ most iconic monsters, after all, including King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan.

The effects are top-notch, and the movie does a great job of emphasizing the scale of the gigantic beasts, with their fight sequences generally being great. Unfortunately, at 132 minutes long, there’s also a good deal of stuff here that isn’t very good, with the human storyline/characters ultimately lacking. The best Godzilla films do tend to balance the human drama with the monster action better, and it’s that aspect of King of the Monsters that lets it down a little… though it’s still a solid chapter in the ongoing MonsterVerse saga.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Release Date
May 29, 2019

Director
Michael Dougherty

Cast
Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Charles Dance, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Kyle Chandler

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
132

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27 ‘Godzilla vs. Gigan’ (1972)

Directed by Jun Fukuda

Gigan

Godzilla vs. Gigan is probably something of an acquired taste, and came out at a time when you could see the budgets for the Showa Era Godzilla films decreasing a little. It introduces the underrated Gigan as a foe for Godzilla to battle, with Anguirus and King Ghidorah also being featured in the film.

The best part of Godzilla vs. Gigan is the bond between Godzilla and Anguirus, exemplified by the way they can inexplicably talk to each other in this movie (using speech bubbles!). Godzilla vs. Gigan is very silly, but very charming, and is definitely the most memorable part of an otherwise solid – but not amazing – kaiju movie. There were plenty of Godzilla movies from the Showa Era that aren’t decade-defining masterpieces by any means, but still prove enjoyable for fans, with Godzilla vs. Gigan being one of them.

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26 ‘Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla’ (1994)

Directed by Kensho Yamashita

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla - 1994

Between the aforementioned Showa and Millennium Eras of the Godzilla series stood the Heisei Era; arguably its most consistent and cohesive grouping of films. It comprised seven entries released between 1984 and 1995, and featured a continuous story that played out with the same iteration of Godzilla and several recurring human characters.

The era’s nadir is Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, the penultimate film, which quite lazily introduces a being that’s very similar to Godzilla with it being – shock horror – from space. If you can get on board with a foe called « SpaceGodzilla, » there is entertainment to be found, but to be a little more objective, the creation of « SpaceGodzilla » was probably a sign the Heisei Era needed to end (and thankfully it concluded with a bang, but more on that further down the line).

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25 ‘Godzilla vs. Mothra’ (1992)

Directed by Takao Okawara

Godzilla vs. Mothra - 1992
Image via Toho

Mothra has always been one of the most popular monsters in the Godzilla series. She appeared numerous times throughout the Showa Era, with 1992’s Godzilla vs. Mothra serving as her Heisei Era debut. It’s one of many movies featuring Mothra, with the character even appearing in kaiju movies that didn’t have Godzilla in them.

It feels like it’s trying to recapture the spirit of some of those older Godzilla movies, and besides having some slicker special effects, it doesn’t do a great deal more with Mothra than what fans had seen before. That being said, it was a welcome return for the monster – who hadn’t been featured in a Godzilla film since 1968 – even if the movie itself was merely pretty good, rather than pretty great.

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24 ‘Godzilla vs. Megaguirus’ (2000)

Directed by Masaaki Tezuka

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus
Image via Toho

You heard it here first: Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is one of the most unfairly disliked Godzilla movies in existence. The consensus seems to be that this is the weakest Godzilla movie of the 21st century so far, and… well, look, it’s not up there with the best by any means, but it offers more entertainment value than most give it credit for, and can’t quite be considered one of the very worst movies of the early 2000s by any means.

It resets things after Godzilla 2000, taking place in a new continuity that ignores all Godzilla films except the 1954 original (a staple of the Millennium Era). Godzilla fights a bunch of bugs, and then at the end, he fights a big bug named Megaguirus, who’s an underrated Godzilla monster. Also, Godzilla body slams Megaguirus. What’s not to like? (Well, besides the fairly bad CGI effects used throughout the film).

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23 ‘King Kong vs. Godzilla’ (1962)

Directed by Ishirō Honda

King Kong vs. Godzilla - 1962 (1)

The original smackdown between King Kong and Godzilla was surprisingly only the third movie Godzilla ever appeared in. In 1962, Kong was more likely to be considered the king of the monsters, given his first movie came out almost 30 years earlier (though King Kong vs. Godzilla was also his third big-screen appearance).

This film was directed by Ishirō Honda, who was also behind the 1954 original and several other sequels released during the Showa Era. While King Kong vs. Godzilla isn’t his finest hour, and the overall film is very uneven, it’s also got some seriously memorable highlights, a gleefully ridiculous plot, and reliably fun monster action. It’s a flawed movie, and arguably one that some would consider to be so-bad-it’s-good in nature, but it’s a great deal of fun regardless of how you want to categorize it.

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22 ‘Godzilla vs. Megalon’ (1973)

Directed by Jun Fukuda

Godzilla vs Megalon - 1973

Some might be tempted to call Godzilla vs. Megalon a guilty pleasure, but why feel guilty about enjoying such a glorious film? This stands as perhaps the goofiest of all the Showa Era movies, and given the Showa Era contains its fair share of wacky, kid-friendly Godzilla films, that statement’s really saying something.

Godzilla goes up against Megalon and the aforementioned Gigan, but thankfully, he’s also assisted by Jet Jaguar, a shape-shifting, super-powered humanoid robot. The human storyline is silly and a lot of fun, and the monster fights are so ridiculous it’s impossible to resist grinning while watching them (Godzilla’s famed flying kick is the stuff of legends for a reason). Whether or not it’s supposed to be funny, it’s pretty easy to find humor in Godzilla vs. Megalon.

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21 ‘Ebirah, Horror of the Deep’ (1966)

Directed by Jun Fukuda

godzilla-ebirah-social-feature
Image via Toho

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is a slept-on Godzilla film and, befitting its title, might well qualify as a Godzilla deep cut. Its titular foe isn’t one of the series’ best-known monsters by any means, and it’s a Showa Era movie that tends to get buried by some of the more memorable titles released on either side of it.

The plot involves a giant lobster that’s being controlled by a terrorist group, and a small group of people teaming with Godzilla and Mothra to take them down. It’s a ridiculous but fun premise, and intentionally embraces its goofy elements without worrying too much about the fans who prefer their Godzilla movies solemn and thought-provoking. Sure, Ebirah isn’t one of the best Godzilla foes, but it’s a unique one that appears within a strange Godzilla movie with a singular vibe, making Ebirah, Horror of the Deep easy to recommend for fans of the series.

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20 ‘Terror of Mechagodzilla’ (1975)

Directed by Ishirō Honda

Terror of Mechagodzilla - 1975
Image via Toho

The hasty Godzilla sequel phenomenon rears its ugly head once more, though thankfully, calling Terror of Mechagodzilla « ugly » or creatively bankrupt would be unfair. Its worst crime is not being as good as the 1974 film that introduced Mechagodzilla, with his return here not being an unwelcome one, but still feeling a little rushed.

It ended up being the final movie of the Showa Era, and while it definitely could’ve gone out with a worse film, it didn’t feel like a grand finale, regrettably (this is something both the Heisei and Millennium Eras thankfully achieved). Terror of Mechagodzilla delivers some fun, no-nonsense action, and is an overall alright sequel to the superior 1974 Mechagodzilla film. The series took a break of nearly a decade after the release of Terror of Mechagodzilla, helping to stop fatigue setting in for this beloved franchise.

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19 ‘Mothra vs. Godzilla’ (1964)

Directed by Ishirō Honda

Mothra vs. Godzilla - 1964
Image via Toho

Though Mothra vs. Godzilla is the first time the two titular monsters meet, it interestingly wasn’t the first appearance of Mothra. She’d had her own movie independent of the Godzilla series in 1961, and when she proved popular, those at Toho – the Japanese company that owns Godzilla – saw the potential in having her crossover with Godzilla. As such, Mothra vs. Godzilla is one key step in making the overall Godzilla series a continually strange and wonderful one, building the world later sequels would take place in.

Mothra vs. Godzilla marks the point where the films start getting very good, and even recommendable to people who don’t usually like kaiju movies. Mothra vs. Godzilla is a rock-solid early Godzilla film, and though Mothra’s abilities don’t lend themselves as well to fight scenes as other Godzilla foes, it’s still fun to see the two square off for the first time.

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18 ‘Godzilla vs. Hedorah’ (1971)

Directed by Yoshimitsu Banno

Godzilla vs. Hedorah - 1971
Image via Toho

There’s no easy way to say it: Godzilla vs. Hedorah is weird, and might well be the most experimental Godzilla film. There are animated sequences, some really dark moments, different-sounding music to much of the rest of the series, and a particularly odd villain who’s made up of pollution and environmental waste.

The unusual elements here make Godzilla vs. Hedorah one of the most interesting films in the series, and admittedly one that might not be for everyone. Still, going against the formula to some extent and making it (mostly) work should be celebrated, and for the majority of its runtime, Godzilla vs. Hedorah is very engaging. It takes some serious risks by Godzilla movie standards, and for its odd qualities and distinctly dark/eerie atmosphere, it’s quite the compelling watch overall.

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