And really, who didn't see this one coming? Godzilla is a gigantic dinosaur with huge, nasty-looking dorsal spines; and long, sinuous tail; and an incredibly powerful heat ray. He's the freaking King of the Monsters! However, in my mind, there's a definate heirarchy among the various Godzilla designs over the years. The best look is from most of the Millenium films (2000, Megaguiras, Mechagodzilla 3, Tokyo S.O.S.). This Godzilla just looks mean and classically dinosaurian. Toho did away with the oddly mammalian nostrils and the triple-row of symmetrical dorsal spines and instead gave us a toothy-grinned, wild-spined Godzilla that's modern, yet evocative of the 1954 design. The next-best design is definately the one shared by the entire Heisei series (except for 1985). With its beady eyes and bulky look, the Heisei Godzilla gave a real sense of power and strength, and indeed, he wasn't afraid to throw his weight around just as much as his heat ray. After these two designs, things sort of go downhill quickly. In order, from next-best to worst, are: Final Wars, Giants Monsters All-Out Attack, early-era Showa films, and late-era Showa films. And the absolute worst design ever? Godzilla vs. King Kong gave us an amphibian-esque Godzilla with lazy eyes, a frog face, and cheese, cheese, cheese!
His name is usually mispelled as "Angilas," and if you saw Godzilla Raids Again, he didn't even get a name. However, Anguiras is, perhaps, Godzilla's only real ally. Although it's true that Big G roasted the big nodosaur in Raids Again, Anguiras has proved himself quite the monster-fighter since them. Without his noble efforts, Earth may have fallen victim to King Ghidorah in Destroy All Monsters or Gigan and...King Ghidorah...in Godzilla vs. Gigan. However, at the beginning of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Anguiras is supposedly betrayed by his saurian compatriot when Mechagodzilla, disguised in a Godzilla costume (oy vey) rips out poor Anguiras' tongue! Ouch! And then there was a twenty-year absence until Final Wars, when a very modern-looking Anguiras showed up for all of three minutes and was one of the only monsters not killed by Godzilla (along with Rodan and King Caesar). Anguiras doesn't have any special breath weapons, but he's got brute strength, a lot of heart, and Rollout, which is now a Pokemon attack.
Technically the second fim in the Heisei series, Godzilla vs. Biollante besowed upon us one of Godzilla's most fearsome--and gigantic--opponents. Biollante is the result of cross-breeding a rose with Godzilla's DNA. The enormous monster begins life as an enormous rose that rises from a lake. After Godzilla sets fire to the big plant, it mutates (or something) and becomes Biollante. It's nuclear core powers a fearsome crocodilian maw and dozens of toothy tendrills. In addition to all the sharp dentition, Biollante can spew forth an acidic spray which burns and blinds Godzilla. Still, being a Grass-type, Biollante is still no match for Godzilla's Fire-type attacks (Enough with the Pokemon references! -Ed.), and upon the destruction of its core, Biollante disipates into spores which escape into the stratosphere, only to reappear several years later in the form of Space Godzilla (who is not on this list). While not really a match for Big G, Biollante is perhaps my favorite creature design from the entire Godzilla lineage.
This bizarre creation is a cybornetic alien entity originally built by ape-like aliens (actually cockroaches) from Nebula M Spacehunter! Aside from its insectoid face, Gigan is quite the biped, with two menacing sythes for hands, three (count 'em--three) wings, and a nasty buzzsaw on its belly. The monster is much more organic-looking in its original two fim appearances (Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. Megalon), but was altered greatly for Godzilla: Final Wars. Now a fully-robotic kaiju, the Final Wars version sported a shotgun-like eye laser, but was still no match for Godzilla and, embarrasingly, Mothra. Interestingly, Gigan was the first opponent to make Godzilla bleed (in Godzilla vs. Gigan), when Big G was slashed by Gigan's scythes and buzzsaw belly. Gigan's is among the best creature designs of the Godzilla series, and his "kill first, ask questions later" attitude in all three of his films give him a real personality, too.
Mechagodzilla has gone through some significant changes--almost as many as his organic counterpart. The Showa series Mechagodzilla is hard to watch now, looking more like a kid's home-made Halloween costume than a menacing monster. The Heisei series Mechagodzilla fared much better, however, with a sleeker design and the ability to actually kill the King of the Monsters (and he would have, too, if not for those meddling kids--I mean, Rodan). However, Kiryu, from Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla takes the cake. As I mentioned to my friend Brian just last Friday, Kiryu looks like a Zoid toy, but an uber-awesome one. Aside from the usual array of missiles and lasers, Kiryu has an "Absolute Zero" ice ray, which, in theory, can freeze anything, including Godzilla (that's the plan, anyway). What makes Kiryu so damn awesome, though, is that it's built around the skeleton of the original Godzilla from 1954. In fact, during its intial scuffle with Godzilla, Kiryu refuses to obliterate its living cousin and instead goes on a rampage of its own. Too freakin' cool! Kiryu was heavily damaged by Godzilla at the end of the film, but returned in Tokyo S.O.S. and faced not just Godzilla but also Mothra. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Tokyo S.O.S. are my favorite two Millenium films just because Kiryu is so awesome.
Honorable Mention: Orga
Godzilla 2000, the first Millenium-era Godzilla film, introduced Orga, an alien life-form interested solely in sucking the DNA out of the King of the Monsters. Originally protected by a large bicyle seat-shaped spaceship, Orga showed off an impressive energy beam but was ultimately shot down by Godzilla. Upon emerging from its ship, Orga was shown to be a squid-like creature which sucked out some of Godzilla's Regenerator G-1 genes and began taking on the form (sort of) of Godzilla himself. Every time Godzilla damaged Orga, however, the big alien beastie merely regenerated just as quickly and, in fact, continued to mutate. Eventually, Orga attempted to swallow Godzilla whole (thus absorbing all of Regenerator G-1), but was blown apart from the inside when Godzilla activated his "nuclear pulse"--perhaps his most devestating energy attack. The Orga fight also has the honor of being one of the longest single battles in all of Godzilla film history, taking up the entire 3rd act of Godzilla 2000. Despite his awkward appearance, I like Orga's character design, but his lack of personality hurts him, thus removing him from the Top 5 proper.