Godzilla is one of the most famous monsters in cinematic history.
With new remakes and new epic fights between Godzilla and other large creatures, the lore surrounding Godzilla becomes more advanced with every telling.
One question that often comes to mind is how old Godzilla actually is.
The fact that he looks like a dinosaur may offer some clues.
Here’s what you need to know about Godzilla and how old he is.
How Old Is Godzilla?
Godzilla comes from the Permian period of prehistory which makes him more than 252 million years old.
The Permian period took place just before the Permian-Triassic period.
It was in this period that the massive extinction event took place that killed most of the animals on the Earth’s surface.
Godzilla managed to avoid such a fate and ended up hibernating.
In many versions of the lore, he ends up hibernating in various large bodies of water before he awakens.
In terms of cinematic history, Godzilla is 68 years old.
His first appearance on the big screen was in Nagoya, Japan on October 27th, 1954.
The United States also made its own version of the movie two years later.
What Are The Origins of Godzilla?
The traditional origin story behind Godzilla, based on the 1954 film, is that he is a mutated creature brought on through nuclear testing.
However, that’s only one origin story behind the famous monster Godzilla.
Here are all the different origin stories behind the creature’s existence throughout the years.
1. Godzilla (1954)
The original film acted as both a horror film and as a way for Japanese audiences to work through the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the 1954 film, Godzilla was a simple reptile that lived in the ocean near the island.
Due to the experiments that the United States was doing with atomic weapons, however, radiation crept into the ocean.
As a result, the reptile mutated and grew extremely large.
It eventually awakened and started to wreak havoc on the nearby city of Tokyo.
The people of Tokyo saved the day by using an oxygen destroyer to kill the monster.
However, due to the popularity of the film, it was quickly decided that there needed to be more Godzilla films.
Since the original creature had died, they needed to come up with a replacement.
In the sequels that followed, the story revealed that there was actually a second reptile that had also mutated as a result of the radiation.
It’s the second creature that goes on to star in many sequels to the original 1954 film.
2. Godzilla Vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
The 1991 film added some backstory to Godzilla to paint him in a more heroic light.
The film starts with a flashback in 1944 during the second World War.
A group of Japanese soldiers were fighting against American soldiers and were ultimately saved by a dinosaur.
They named the dinosaur Godzillasaurus.
The film suggests that it is this creature that became the mutated Godzilla in the 1954 film.
However, the 1991 film then applies its own twist.
It includes aliens who don’t want Godzilla to exist.
They go back in time to 1944 and remove Godzillasaurus from the ocean to avoid the radiation.
Instead, they put three small creatures there.
Godzillasauraus is then placed elsewhere far away from the original site of radiation.
Unfortunately, the three small creatures that the aliens placed in Godzillasurau’s original spot mutate and fuse together.
The creature ends up becoming King Ghidorah.
The Japanese find themselves unable to fight against the monster.
They decide that the only thing that can defeat it is Godzillasaurus.
They send a team to find the creature and blast it with radiation to make it mutate.
However, unbeknownst to them, there was a sunken Russian submarine in the water close to Godzillasaurus.
It had already mutated.
The Japanese shot it with more radiation and made the creature even stronger.
This version of Godzilla would go on to fight more monsters over the rest of the decade.
3. Godzilla (1998)
When Sony attempted to make a Godzilla film in 1998, few fans of the original Godzilla movies enjoyed it.
Even the creators of the original Godzilla, Toho Co. Ltd., hated it.
They would go on to make another movie called Godzilla: Final Wars which included this version and their own.
This version killed the 1998 version.
It was Toho’s attempt to retcon the entire 1998 movie by saying this was a different creature and not Godzilla.
That said, the origin story for this Godzilla is different, too.
According to their lore, Godzilla was actually an iguana.
The iguana got caught in Polynesia during a nuclear test.
The test occurred in 1968.
The creature continued to mutate slowly, over the next 30 years.
It grew and didn’t develop any particular powers, but it was still incredibly strong.
Eventually, it emerged out of the water and started attacking New York City.
4. Godzilla, Mothra, And King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
This movie which brought the famous monster into the new millennium took on a different take.
The film’s plot exists outside of the standard continuity for the other Godzilla films.
Although it does use a plot point from the original 1954 movie from which it launches.
The Godzilla in this film is actually the original creature that died in 1945 by the oxygen destroyer.
However, according to this film, the oxygen destroyer didn’t destroy Godzilla’s body when it killed him.
Instead, his body became possessed by all the souls of those who had died in the Pacific Ocean during World War II.
As a result, this version of Godzilla was truly evil and supernatural.
5. Godzilla (2014)
In an effort to make an established universe out of Godzilla and capitalize on the franchise, the 2014 film Godzilla came out.
It changed quite a few aspects of the original story.
One of the most significant changes is that it changed the reasons behind Godzilla’s mutations.
The film showed that the US wasn’t testing nuclear bombs in the Pacific Ocean.
Rather, they were already trying to destroy Godzilla who already existed.
He was a large, monstrous creature that had survived the mass extinction of other dinosaurs.
The US ultimately failed in destroying Godzilla in 1954 although they believed they had succeeded.
The film’s main events, which take place in 2014, reveal that Godzilla had survived the nuclear blasts.
He comes to the aid of the city to fight the M.U.T.O.s.
This established a MonsterVerse which includes several creatures called Titans.
Godzilla is one such creature as are Kong and Ghidorah.
These Titans normally sleep deep within the earth, usually in the oceans.
However, when they awaken, or when they’re forced awake, they wreak havoc on earth.
Godzilla is a neutral force whose duty is to preserve the balance.
He does so by fighting off the other Titans and protecting the human species.
These Titans also feed off of radiation which makes them stronger.
The 2014 version of Godzilla had better success than the 1998 version.
It also established TheMonsterVerse which would produce several more sequels within the universe.
6. Shin Godzilla (2016)
One of the most recent changes to Godzilla’s origins comes from the 2016 film Shin Godzilla.
This was another movie helmed by the original creators, Toho.
It served to reboot the company’s own version of the franchise, albeit with a different take.
In this version of the creature, Godzilla was a sea creature who lived in prehistoric times.
He survived into the modern age and eventually encountered nuclear waste in the ocean.
As a result, he started to mutate.
He’d end up having three different forms throughout the movie.
The first two of its forms didn’t have legs, and he was mostly an eel-like creature.
Eventually, however, he mutated into a creature that was more similar to the Godzilla everyone knows.
There’s a significant difference between this Godzilla and Toho’s other Godzillas, however.
For one, this Godzilla doesn’t link to the original 1954 film.
Secondly, this creature was far more grotesque and evil.
It also had several new abilities not seen before.
Although this creature’s origin was new, Toho didn’t intend to use it again.
Instead, the studio has plans to develop more Godzilla movies in the future.
One of those plans is to be a reboot which may provide fans with yet another new origin for their favorite monster.
What Does Godzilla’s Name Mean?
Although Godzilla offers an idea of the towering figure who carries the name, many fans may not even know what the name means.
Godzilla means Gorilla Whale in Japanese.
Originally called Gojira, the creature encompassed the brute strength of a gorilla and the ability to swim and live underwater like a whale, not to mention the enormous size of a whale.
Who Created Godzilla?
The one credited with the name and creature is Tomoyuki Tanaka of Toho Company.
He got the idea for the creature while he was traveling over the ocean in a plane.
A thought occurred to him, and he wondered what kind of giant creature might live deep within the ocean.
Then he wondered what might happen in such a giant creature decided to emerge one day.
He brought this idea to Toho Company who accepted the proposal.
Monster movies were already quite popular in the 1950s.
However, they were B-movies and thus not given a lot of money to produce.
The top talent in the industry rarely wanted to work on such movies, either, since B-movies had a poor reputation.
Toho Company wanted to make the film about something more than just monsters.
They felt that the creature was a unique opportunity to represent the horrors of the nuclear attack on their country.
While the nuclear attack had caused great terror among all the countries in the world, none felt it more keenly than the Japanese.
There was another factor that they considered, too.
In 1954, a fishing crew called the Lucky Dragon Number 5 had gained exposure to radiation during a nuclear test.
One of the sailors had died and the others were sick.
This only increased the fear among those in Japan for they worried that the tuna they ate had radiation in it.
They feared that they would eat the fish and become sick and die, too.
Drawing on these fears, the company used the monster to personify death, war, destruction, and nuclear energy.
Tanaka focused the theme on the fear around the bomb.
For his film, the creature was a stand-in for the bomb.
This was because several monster movies had already used the idea of nuclear energy bringing to life monsters once thought dead.
His idea was instead to show that nature was going to take revenge on mankind for using nuclear energy.
What Was Godzilla Originally Supposed To Be?
Although most audiences know the reptilian-like creature by heart, Godzilla wasn’t originally going to be a reptile.
The Toho Company first envisioned an octopus in the starring role.
After this initial idea passed, they instead focused on a creature that had a mushroom-cloud head.
They didn’t like that either.
They finally settled with a dragon–dinosaur hybrid.
They used several different types of dinosaurs to create the design of the monster.
Its opposable thumbs and hands came from the Iguanodon species.
The iconic mouth came from a T. Rex.
Its backplates came from the Stegosaurus species.
Then the team added its own signature designs.
They included bumpy skin, small ears, large, powerful legs, and a breath attack that caused nuclear destruction.
The result was a creature that was a virtual walking atomic bomb.
Ultimately, it would fall to Ishiro Honda to direct the film and put all the pieces together.
The result would be a franchise that spanned 25 years and included more than 35 films.
With its latest film released in 2021, Godzilla is likely here to stay.
Because Godzilla comes from a prehistoric setting, he’s more than 200 million years old.
However, on the big screen, he’s been around for more than 60 years.
With more movies made every few years, you can expect his origin to change.
The sheer power and fascination behind the monster, however, will live on forever.NEXT: Is Korean Hard To Learn? (10 Things To Know)