While Godzilla is famous for appearing in a series of Japanese and American films over the last 66 years, the iconic movie monster has had numerous appearances in other media, ranging from the Hanna-Barbara cartoon to anime to comic books.
While most modern Godzilla comics are centered around Godzilla fighting against other established kaiju, Marvel held the Godzilla license in the 70s, Much like other licensed characters like Conan the Barbarian or the Transformers, this meant that Godzilla was firmly established as part of the Marvel Universe, and the monster had multiple run-ins with Marvel’s heroes and villains during the course of his series. And even though Godzilla isn’t technically part of the Marvel Universe anymore, the lasting legacy of the King of the Monsters can still be felt around the Marvel Universe to this day.
Godzilla, King of the Monsters ran from 1977 to 1979 and about 24 issues, most of which are by Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe. The series starts off by borrowing a note from the original King Kong vs. Godzilla by having Godzilla emerge from an iceberg. While it’s never revealed how Godzilal ended up in that iceberg to begin with, he wakes up in Alaska and travels across the continent until he ends up reaching New York City. Along the way, he encounters a great deal of Marvel regulars, like the Avengers, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. He even ends up getting into a verbal fight with J Jonah Jameson.
Throughout the series, Godzilla is presented as a force of pure chaos. He isn’t clever or witty; he’s more like a wild animal acting out a fight-or-flight instinct by blowing up every building in sight. This is in contrast to the then-current depiction of Godzilla in the Showa Era films, where he stood as a very self-aware defender of humankind, who was even capable of intelligent conversation with other monsters.
Godzilla primarily comes in conflict with two forces over the course of the series. S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to restrain and subdue Godzilla before he can cause more trouble. His primary pursuer is Dum Dum Dugan, who is tasked to either capture Godzilla or blow him apart, so long as he doesn’t harm civilians. While Dugan and Godzilla remain adversaries throughout the series, Godzilla seems almost compassionate towards Dugan, and the two develop a strange sense of respect for one another. With some help from Stark International and scientist Tamara Hashiok, S.H.I.E.L.D. creates a giant mecha called Red Ronin to fight Godzilla. However, Hashioka’s son, Rob, ends up hijacking the robot and becoming its pilot, and he chooses to fight both against and with Godzilla on multiple occasions.
The other antagonist is Doctor Demonicus, a new villain created originally for this comic. He’s a mad scientist who has been corrupted by radiation poisoning. He creates a plethora of monsters for Godzilla to fight, all of whom end up being beaten by the King of the Monsters. Seeing his babies getting destroyed by Godzilla results in Demonicus somewhat losing his grip on reality.
Marvel lost the brand before the ’80s, but that didn’t mean it were done with Godzilla or the characters that were created to surround him. Doctor Demonicus returned to fight the Shogun Warriors and joined forces with aliens to launch asteroids at the planet Earth. After being captured by SHIELD, Doctor Demonicus decides to fight Godzilla again. However, at this point, Marvel no longer owned the Godzilla license, so, to side-step this, Doctor Demonicus fights “his old nemesis” who is a gigantic monster who looks remarkably like Godzilla. However, to avoid any further conflict, Demonicus ends up mutating Godzilla into a dinosaur-esque monster in Dennis O’Neill and Luke McDonnell’s Iron Man run. Demonicus ends up sending this new monster against the West Coast Avengers, who end up beating it. Tony Stark personally ends up beating Demonicus and sending him to jail. He’s appeared intermediately throughout the Marvel Universe since then, most notably during the Secret Invasion story, where he helped the heroes combat the Skrulls.
Red Ronin’s history is arguably even longer. While he’s destroyed toward the end of the run of Godzilla, King of the Monsters, the mech was rebuilt and reappeared multiple times. In its first major re-appearance after Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Red Ronin is used as a doomsday weapon intended to start World War III with the U.S.S.R. The Avengers manage to stop it. Villainous organizations like Stane Industries and the Hand tried to either buy or steal the Red Ronin’s multiple rebuilt forms over the years. Eventually, however, it fell into the hands of the Thunderbolts, who have wielded the 100-foot tall robot ever since.
As for Godzilla himself, he’s dead. The mutated version of him was harnessed by the Mole Man in an invasion of New York City, though he was ultimately defeated. Later on, he was brought back as the Leviathan, a recreation of Godzilla who fought against the X-Men. However, Archangel ends up killing this Godzilla recreation by splitting his spine from within in Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson’s Uncanny X-Men #507.
While that might seem like a somewhat anti-climactic end for Godzilla in the Marvel Universe, his immense shadow can still be very much felt around the Marvel Universe, even if he can’t legally be called Godzilla anymore.
From the Avengers to the Fantastic Four, Godzilla has faced some of Marvel's most famous heroes, and the monster's presence can still be felt today.