Zilla is Toho Studio's official name for the titular creature of the 1998 film. Toho renamed the character around 2004 after TriStar's rights to the franchise expired. Shogo Tomiyama and Ryuhei Kitamura saw that the 1998 creature as a whole was owned by Toho under Toho's contract with Sony, and Sony only owned the film and the animated series, so they included Zilla in Godzilla: Final Wars and changed its name from "Godzilla" to "Zilla", saying that TriStar "took the 'God' out of 'Godzilla'," and to "prove which Godzilla was stronger."
Physically, Zilla resembles a giant-sized, raptor-like, flesh-eating dinosaur of some sort, with some inspiration from iguanas. He has a rough, square-shaped underbite, a long neck, large, fin-shaped scutes (which differ greatly from Godzilla's maple leaf-shaped scutes), and long, powerful legs and arms. He also possesses a seemingly vestigial toe, on the back of, and three dinosaur-like toes on the front of each foot.
Zilla was originally a very animalistic, illusive and evasive, yet clever creature in his first film appearance, and he kept most, or at the very least, some, of these traits later on. He mostly ate fish, making him a piscivore, which he would also give his offspring. When being attacked, he would try to confuse his offenders and then attack them back, and he even faked his own death when the two Ohio Class Nuclear-Powered Submarines shot two missiles at him. After his offspring were killed when the Madison Square Garden was bombed by the military, he showed a great amount of anger towards the main characters, who he may or may not have known were somewhat behind their deaths.
In his later appearances in Godzilla: The Series, Godzilla: Final Wars, and Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, Zilla, or Cyber-Zilla in Godzilla: The Series' case, was shown to not run away nearly as much and tried to fight. In Godzilla: Final Wars, he faced Godzilla head-on, a move that, while not smart, was brave. Although this could be because he was under the Xiliens' control and was forced to fight Godzilla. In Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, he retained many of the same characteristics as its 1998 appearance, although he lost his cowardly nature. He faced Godzilla head-on once again, evaded his attacks, and landed several attacks of his own. However, he retreated to the sea when Godzilla was close to killing him and he had just barely escaped Godzilla's grip.
Zilla is a giant mutated marine iguana originating from a nuclear test in French Polynesia. As the test was done in 1968, the creature grew over a period of approximately thirty years. His irradiated genes caused him to achieve a height of about sixty meters.
Zilla swam from the islands across the Pacific, attacking a Japanese freighter, and then stomped across Panama. From there it traveled up the American Eastern Seaboard, where it sank several American fishing boats. It then stomped through New York, necessitating the evacuation of the entire city. The military battled it extensively, and supposedly killed it in the East River. However, it had laid hundreds of eggs in and under Madison Square Garden (an arena in Midtown Manhattan), which hatched and filled the Garden with hundreds of baby Zillas. The military bombed the Garden, slaying the infant Zilla's. However, Zilla then revealed itself to have survived, and chased the heroes through New York across the Brooklyn Bridge, where it became entangled in the suspension cables. It was then killed by F-18 Hornets (although later on, in the sequel TV series, he was resurrected as a cyborg by the Tachyons), this cyborg variant appeared during the monster wars story arc which was very similar to the general plot of Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla: Final Wars.
One unhatched offspring survived the destruction of Madison Square Garden. When it hatched, it imprinted upon Dr. Niko Tatopoulos shortly after Niko discovered the egg. From there, Zilla Junior accompanied Tatopoulos and his team, H.E.A.T., on their missions against various monsters mutated by nuclear experiments in Godzilla: The Series.
Because the original Zilla reproduced asexually, it can only be properly classified as genderless. It is, nonetheless, acceptable to refer to Zilla colloquially as either male or female.
In Godzilla: Final Wars, Zilla is one of the monsters controlled by the Xiliens, and under their control he attacks Sydney, Australia. The towering reptile topples down buildings, chomps on vehicles, incinerates a crowd with his fire breath, and even eats a couple of civilians. Then suddenly, the Xiliens teleport the reptile and the other monsters around the world. They tell the humans that they took the monsters away to save Earth. However, the humans find that the Xiliens were controlling the monsters and the Xiliens release all the monsters again to finish destroying the cities they were attacking. When Godzilla is freed from the south pole and defeats the Xilien warrior Gigan, through the alien leader's command Zilla is re-released in Sydney to do battle with Godzilla. He is defeated rather quickly by Godzilla himself, who sends him flying into the Sydney Opera House and finishes him off with his atomic breath. The battle was the shortest in the Godzilla series.
Critics say that this short battle was meant to show Toho's displeasure towards Sony and TriStar with their handling of the Godzilla franchise. Other say the significant difference in size, speed, and abilities between the two showed it truly played out the way it should have. Zilla appeared to be the same as the 1998 creature, except for minor appearance and size differences. However, as Godzilla: Final Wars and the 1998 film do not take place in the same timeline, and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack has its own version of Godzilla, and there is no continuity between Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack and Godzilla: Final Wars, it is not possible for these to be the same creature in-universe. However, this does not mean that Zilla is a different character from the 1998 version altogether.
Zilla appears in the first issue of Godzilla: Rulers of Earth as a rogue kaiju. He is first sighted by a submarine which mistakes him for Godzilla. He later makes landfall in Honolulu, Hawaii and is given the identification as "Zilla" due to radio interference. He then goes on a rampage while fighting the CKR forces stationed there before being attacked by Godzilla who has also arrived and the two monsters prepare to fight. In this series, Zilla bears more of a resemblance to his 1998 design as opposed to his 2004 Final Wars design. Although any real powers have yet to be seen, he appears to have an extremely thick hide as implied to him sustaining multiple hits from artillery fire. He also is very quick and actually does not run away strictly like his 1998 film incarnation, but instead has an attitude more like the Zilla Junior incarnation, not running away until Godzilla almost kills him.
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