So one of the things I keep hearing about the new American Godzilla is how big he (or she theoretically) is going to be. One thing that Annalee Newitz has been saying in particular is that in the Comic-Con footage Godzilla steps on a Cloverfield-sized kaiju. And I was curious how big that would make the new Godzilla compared with the old ones. So although I'm headed to bed soon (pretty late on the West Coast) I've decided to briefly share what I found on Godzilla's size over the years.
A little bit of background: I used to be a pretty big Godzilla fan as a kid, though it's been years since I've watched the movies. Being the kind of detail-obsessed nerd I am and always have been, I absorbed a lot of knowledge during that period, much of which I still remember to this day, though for accuracy's sake I've double-checked it while writing this up.
First off, you have the original Gojira, who in 1954 rose from the Pacific to lay waste to Tokyo. This particular incarnation of Godzilla (which is actually two incarnations, since the Godzilla in the later Showa-continuity movies was explicitly a different creature) stood at about 50 meters which was pretty impressively huge at the time (for comparison the original King Kong stands at about 6 meters and a T. rex is 4 meters).
Fast forward 30 years to 1984, when Godzilla was (mostly) rebooted in the retroactively titled The Return of Godzilla, which ignored all of the previous films except for the first one. Possibly in order that Godzilla would not be dwarfed by the increased height of Tokyo's skyscrapers since the 1950s, Godzilla's size was bumped up to 80 meters. This Godzilla, implied to be the same one which attacked Tokyo in 1954, also took on a primarily antagonistic role, after more than a decade of Godzilla playing the hero.
This size adjustment would not last long however. As part of a time travel plot in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah the original (and much, much smaller) Godzillasaurus that the 1954/1984 beast mutated from was moved from the site of its mutation to the Bering Sea, where it lay in hibernation until it was mutated twenty years later after an encounter with a Soviet nuclear submarine, followed by a second nuclear sub encounter that increased Godzilla's size from 80 meters to 100, at which he would remain until the end of the Heisei continuity films.
There are two other examples worth discussing, though they're usually given less consideration.
The first of these is the creature retroactively dubbed "Zilla" aka the Tri-Star Godzilla, which has been accepted into Toho canon somewhat with the caveat that it wasn't really Godzilla. Zilla, which was a mutated marine iguana, stood somewhere near the size of the Heisei Godzilla during his early years, maxing out at about 70 meters.
The second case is that of the Millennium-era Godzilla, which was featured in a series of stand-alone films that shared some thematic elements but were all part of separate continuities. This Godzilla, which was generally implied to be the same one that appeared in 1954, stood at a much humbler 55 meters, bringing it back within range of the original films.
So how does this compare against other kaiju? Well it depends on which kaiju you're looking at. In the early Showa films, most of the kaiju Godzilla encountered were pretty close to the same size as the King of the Monsters (probably due in part to the fact that were all played by actors in rubber suits), though there were exceptions. King Ghidorah was probably Godzilla's largest adversary, standing at about 100 meters in the Showa continuity.
In later films, Toho expanded the playing field a bit with some pretty hugely massive creatures, who dwarfed even the much larger Heisei Godzilla. In its final form, Biollante was 120 meters tall, significantly larger than its 80 meter opponent and its quasi-descendant Space Godzilla stood at a similar height. Godzilla's recurrent nemesis King Ghidorah also got a size upgrade, reaching 140 meters in height, leaving him at the top of the size scale.
Most of the kaiju from Toho's main competitor, Daiei (later acquired by Kadokawa), are about the same size. The most famous, Gamera, ranges between 60 and 80 meters depending on the film, while the largest of Gamera's enemies, Legion, is about 140 meters tall, the same height as the Heisei-era King Ghidorah.
What about Clover? Or the Pacific Rim kaiju? The former is, according to the wiki, about 350 feet tall or just a bit over 100 meters, putting it at the same height as Godzilla. As for the Pacific Rim monsters, the largest is Slattern, who is 596 feet or approximately 180 meters tall, dwarfing every previous incarnation of Godzilla as well as most other kaiju.
Given how people have been talking about Gareth Edwards' newest incarnation of the King of the Monsters, it sounds like that might be about where we're headed. But this new Godzilla could in theory be even larger.