Why Is Godzilla Called Godzilla? The Origins Are a Little Confusing

Godzilla has been terrifying us all since 1954, and his origin story has changed quite a bit since then. So, why is he called Godzilla?

Kori Williams - Author

Mar. 30 2021, Updated 8:47 p.m. ET

godzilla king of monsters
Source: warner bros. via youtube

Japan has a huge international audience for its creative endeavors like anime and Hello Kitty, along with Nintendo products and respective games. But for many, the monster Godzilla is arguably one of the best antagonists to ever come out of the country's cinematic world. Godzilla has been the focal point of all kinds of movies, but there are still a ton of questions about this creature.

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So many people know the name Godzilla, but not everyone knows where the name or Godzilla itself actually comes from. It's been the star of so many movies that its origins aren't exactly clear, but where did the name actually come from?

Where did Godzilla get its name?

According to Vox, the name Godzilla comes from the Japanese word "Gojira." This word is the combination of two other words: "Gorira" and "Kujira," which mean gorilla and whale, respectively. The article does go on to say that it's not exactly clear how Godzilla was chosen to be the name that so many of us have known for decades.

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Godzilla and King Kong
Source: Warner Bros. via YouTube

Toho Studios made the first Godzilla movie back in 1954, and it's reported that they had a very big guy as a stagehand on the set. Eventually, he was named "Gojira" because of his big size after people were comparing him to both a gorilla and a whale. Basically, Godzilla means something big and strong, but the creature that eventually got the name doesn't even look like either one of those animals. 

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Godzilla also has a lot of backstories.

Because of all the different movies made around Godzilla, there's a bunch of different origin stories. All we can really agree on is that the monster came from Japan. But according to Screen Rant, Godzilla has been in over 30 movies and each one has its own twist on his story. But in many of the films, it's a huge monster that lives in deep waters. It's not clear exactly where Godzilla lives, but the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean are two options because of their closeness to the country. 

In some movies, Godzilla was created by some kind of nuclear disaster. In fact, in the first movie, the monster was a metaphor. The Screen Rant article says that Godzilla was used to symbolize everything that Japan was dealing with because of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Nagaski and Hiroshima during World War II. Godzilla had mutated from the radiation from tests conducted by the U.S. government. 

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But in Sony's 1998 version of Godzilla, the monster had a different reason for being. It was formed when a lizard got caught up in a Polynesian nuclear test in 1968. Over the course of three decades, the lizard continued to mutate as it lived in New York City. Ultimately, though, Toho Studios didn't like this movie, and it had both versions of the classic monster face off in another movie called Godzilla: Final Wars, which was released in 2004.

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