Despite being influential to the subsequent Godzilla films (collectively labeled as the Millennium series) in one way or the other, Emmerich’s Godzilla was the object of inside-jokes or parodies in some of the films. The first example, arguably, is a simple inside-joke featured in Shusuke Kaneko’s Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack! (2001). In the beginning of the film, during a briefing regarding Godzilla’s return, it is mentioned that a Monster attacked New York in 1998 — initially believed to be Godzilla. One of the characters promptly debunks the suggestion, saying that “they say so in America; but not in Japan.” The line in the english dub is similar: “that’s what the American experts say, but our experts here have doubts.”
The most famous mockery of Godzilla would be presented three years afterwards: in occasion of Godzilla’s 50th anniversary in 2004, TOHO produced Godzilla: Final Wars. Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, the celebratory film featured a total of 13 TOHO Monsters, besides Godzilla and his son Minilla. Included in this rogues gallery is a new character introduced in the film, called Zilla (in japanese ジラ, Jira) — a creature of unknown origins that is employed by the Xiliens (the alien antagonists of the film) to attack Sydney. In an attempt to parody the American remake, the creature is defeated in less than 13 seconds — marking the shortest battle in the Godzilla series’ long history. In the original Japanese version of the film, the Xilien controller utters “I knew that tuna-eating lizard was useless”; the line was changed in the american dub: “I knew that tuna-head wasn’t up to much.”
Zilla was — intentionally — the only Monster of the film to be brought to the screen solely with the use of computer-generated effects. The digital model of the creature was initially obtained with a scan of Trendmasters’ ‘Ultimate’ Godzilla figure — part of the toyline dedicated to the 1998 film — which was then refined to create the final design. This peculiarity among the other characters of Godzilla: Final Wars criticized the American remake’s extensive use of digital effects (despite the also considerable employment of practical effects). Kitamura was notoriously quoted as saying that the American remake “took the ‘God’ out of Godzilla.”
Since the release of Final Wars, the belief that the American Godzilla was actually renamed Zilla underwent a rapid diffusion, both via the film itself and popular video reviews. For all intents and purpose, however, this fact is incorrect. In 1998, Sony Pictures acquired rights to make the film, and still owns the international film rights. In 2005, TriStar exploited the release of Peter Jackson’s King Kong to launch a new DVD release of Godzilla — labeled commercially as the ‘Monster Edition’. The copyright disclaimers on the back cover assert the following statement:
“GODZILLA and the GODZILLA character and design are marks of Toho Co., Ltd. The GODZILLA character and design are copyrighted works of Toho Co., Ltd. All are used with permission.” [sic]
TOHO is also known for its ‘Monster logos’, which are printed on the cover of many of their home video releases, as well as products related to their characters; with the release of the American remake, the new Godzilla received its own logo, as did Zilla when Final Wars was released. The 2007 limited edition release of Godzilla‘s soundtrack by La-La Land Records not only mantained the same copyright disclaimers, but also another appearence of Godzilla’s own logo.
In 2009, TriStar released Godzilla in Blu-ray — whose back cover again presented the same copyright claims: