Since 1954 the Japanese monster Godzilla has reigned its terror on audiences captivated by its freak nature.

First brought to the big screen by Ishirō Honda, a director who managed to tap into what was country still somewhat paranoid about nuclear threat following the dropping of two atomic bombs by America a decade earlier, Godzilla went on to grow into a stature nobody truly expected.

When Godzilla—known as Gojira locally—was created by producer and distributor Toho, Japan became infatuated with the mutant sea creature whose size, power and legend tapped into Japanese culture.

Its breakthrough in Japan was fast and furious and, given its popularity, made the move over to America through a number of high-profile box office hits as the world moved on from King Kong in favour of their famed lizard styled aquatic creature. With that in mind, the relationship between Godzilla and Kong would change from commercial rivals to on-screen foes and their battle quickly became a central part of the franchise.

Godzilla vs. Kong is in the midst of its most high-profile feature yet, a new sequel directed by Adam Wingard and starring the likes of Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown and more will arrive in 2020, armed with a budget in excess of millions. As the world’s longest continuously running film franchise again flexes its muscles, we look back at the foundations upon what it was built.

Actor Haruo Nakajima, pictured in a number of the below images, spent around 25 years inside the rubber Godzilla costume as he birthed the monster from the ’50’s right through into the ’70s. With 11 Godzilla films to his name, Nakajima once explained: “The suit weighed 220 pounds,” when reflecting on his roles in an interview with CBS News. “And I was [surrounded] by [hot] lights. I stuck a thermometer inside the suit; 140 degrees.”

“Godzilla is a creature of the Americans,” Nakajima added. “Godzilla’s breath is nuclear radiation. He showed our audiences that atomic bombs are frightening.

“After seeing the problems caused by radiation and the meltdowns, my consciousness changed,” Owada said. “Either we use nuclear power carefully or it will imperil us.”

He added: “He’s a very iconic character.”

Below, enjoy some iconic behind-the-scenes images of Nakajima in action as part of the 1954 film Godzilla, Godzilla vs Mothra in 1964, Godzilla vs Gigan from 1972, and 1974 effort Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla.

(Images via Vintage.es)

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