1. Godzilla (1954)
First released by Japanese production company Toho in 1954, Godzilla famously depicted a gigantic reptilian sea monster that rose from the depths of the oceans due to the radiation from atomic weapon testing by the United States military.
The monster towered over the buildings of Tokyo and destroyed everything in its path. The film’s themes of horror and fear resonated with audiences as memories of nuclear disaster, war and catastrophe continued to haunt people worldwide. The film became a long-running franchise, with Toho releasing 32 Godzilla films and Hollywood producing four remakes. The latest instalment, Godzilla V Kong, will be released by Warner Brothers later this year—it stars actors Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown and Zhang Ziyi.
Outside of cinemas, the monster continues to plague our global subconscious. Godzilla’s name is often referenced when attaching “zilla” to the end of a word to emphasise power, or monstrous and destructive behaviour. Most notably, ongoing reality show Bridezilla on the WE television network documents the extreme and demanding behaviour of brides leading up to their big day. The name of open web browser Mozilla Firefox is also a nod to the infamous sea creature.
Godzilla is often parodied in films and television shows like Austin Powers in Goldmember, Ted 2 and The Simpsons, which has featured the monster on multiple occasions. The character is so recognisable that even cartoons aimed at young children make direct references to the monster, including Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, which showcases a large mechanical reptile robot roaming the French capital. Shrek 2’s gigantic and monstrous gingerbread man was also a nod to Godzilla.
The fictional reptile has also become a muse for musicians—earlier this year Eminem released the single Godzilla, which now holds the record for the fastest rap. On the song’s third verse, Eminem raps 224 words in 30 seconds.
The monster has had its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame since 2004, when it was granted one to mark its 50th birthday.