In Japan, under his real name of Gojira, Godzilla has been a national treasure since the first film came out in 1954.
Schoolchildren could probably name the different actors who've worn the Godzilla suit, prowling around Tokyo knocking down miniature buildings, and if pressed could tell you that the sounds of the monster's awful footsteps are made by beating a kettle drum with a heavy rope knotted at one end.
Because the 21st century is upon us, the new Godzilla has been given a makeover. He's lost some height (down from 328 feet to approximately 170), but his mouth is now wider (the better to bite you with), his skin coarser, his dorsal fins longer and spikier.
And even though computer-generated imagery is no longer taboo, the Godzilla suit has been handed down to the next generation, a former stuntman for action star Sonny Chiba named Tsutomu Kitagawa, who reports, for those who had their doubts, that "playing Godzilla is not for someone who's claustrophobic."
The most recent film to feature the character is 2004's "Godzilla: The Final Wars," made in celebration of the original film's 50th anniversary. The Japanese production company that makes the films, Toho Studios, has said this film is the final installment in the series — but there are rumors Godzilla could return.