Godzilla (Japanese: ゴジラ, Hepburn: Gojira) (/ɡɒdˈzɪlə/; [ɡoꜜdʑiɾa] (listen)) is a fictional monster originating from a series of Japanese films of the same name. The character first appeared in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film Godzilla and became a worldwide pop culture icon, appearing in various media, including 32 films produced by Toho, three Hollywood films and numerous video games, novels, comic books and television shows. It is dubbed the King of the Monsters, a phrase first used in Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, the Americanized version of the original film. Godzilla is depicted as an enormous, destructive, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation. With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons. As the film series expanded, some stories took on less serious undertones, portraying Godzilla as an antihero, or a lesser threat who defends humanity. With the end of the Cold War, several post-1984 Godzilla films shifted the character's portrayal to themes including Japan's forgetfulness over its imperial past, natural disasters and the human condition. Godzilla has been featured alongside many supporting characters. It has faced human opponents such as the JSDF, or other monsters, including King Ghidorah, Gigan and Mechagodzilla. Godzilla sometimes has allies, such as Rodan, Mothra and Anguirus, and offspring, such as Minilla and Godzilla Junior. Godzilla has also fought characters from other franchises in crossover media, such as the RKO Pictures/Universal Studios movie monster King Kong and the Marvel Comics characters S.H.I.E.L.D., the Fantastic Four and the Avengers.
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