In the hierarchy of science-fiction, the likes of Isaac Asimov, H.G. Wells, and William Gibson claim the top spots. Giant robots wrestling colossal kaiju rank way, way, way at the bottom of prestigious explorative fiction. But those stuffy authors at the top, in some cases, would have seen their work improved by indulging in pure, uncut badassery.
With the trailer for Godzilla Resurgence pumping us up, the upcoming Voltron reboot hitting Netflix in June, and next week’s release of Marvel’s New Avengers #10, wherein the Avengers pilot a robot to fight the villain American Kaiju, we thought it felt right to take a quick look back at some of the best monster versus mecha fight scenes across all of film and TV.
Godzilla and Caesar vs. Mechagodzilla, in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
While not the strongest Godzilla movie in the character’s exhaustive history, the debut of Mechagodzilla remains a high point for fans of the Big G. With the help of King Caesar, who is both underrated but also kind of a chump, Godzilla lays the smackdown on Mechagodzilla. As good as it was, it wasn’t their last fight.
Eva Unit 01 vs. Sachiel in Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is the pinnacle of the mecha anime genre (yes, I’d put it even above Gundam), and one of the show’s first fights was EVA 01 versus the Angel Sachiel. It’s a battle loaded with drama and suspense no one could fathomably expect in a robot anime, and being the show’s first impression, it does a lot to sell you on the rest of the series.
With 26 episodes total (and the multi-installment reboot Rebuild of Evangelion, which is ongoing), the show sports several awesome fights — my absolute favorite being Shinji and Asuka having a synchronized “dance” to defeat one particular Angel — but the battle against Sachiel was the one that bear hugged me and promised I was in for a hell of a ride.
King Kong vs. Mechani-Kong in King Kong Escapes
So the definition of “good” is stretched thin here. King Kong Escapes, or indeed any of King Kong’s movies that aren’t the 1933 movie or Peter Jackson’s 2005 film (which is fun if I’m bored enough) are not good. But watching King Kong kick an empty body suit while climbing the Tokyo Tower is a different kind of great. A purer kind, if you will.
Godzilla vs. Kiryu (Millennium Mechagodzilla) in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
While I think Tokyo S.O.S. is one the most boring entries in the Heisei era of the Godzilla franchise, it is memorable for being the last appearance of Mechagodzilla in his ultimate “Kiryu” form, which is basically Mechagodzilla on a fuckton of roids. It’s just a sick fight with modern choreography and effects, with the best looking Mechagodzilla in it as the cherry on top.
Megazord and Dragonzord vs. Cyclopsis (Round 1 and Round 2) in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
While it technically doesn’t count because the Power Rangers clash with another giant robot, Cyclopsis, it’s still being piloted by Rita’s general Goldar so it’s all robots/monsters here. The two-parter “Doomsday” would have been the finale to the ‘90s kids’ TV phenomenon Power Rangers, but the ratings were so good that now Power Rangers has been on forever. And the legitimately fast-paced and exciting fight in “Doomsday” is part of why.
Plus, I mean, Round 2 is where the Megazord gets its limbs sliced off. It’s a totally devastating image to see when you’re 5 years old.
Gipsy Danger vs. Knifehead
When I saw Pacific Rim I couldn’t stop smiling in the theater. This movie just made me so, so happy. Guillermo del Toro’s elegant visual imagery plus the spectacle of blockbuster Hollywood resulted in a legitimately exciting and thrilling piece of cinema I still can’t stop gushing over.
Though Pacific Rim had a lot of great fights — Cherno Alpha and Crimson Typhoon losing to Otachi and Leatherback is heartbreaking — but the best is still the opening number, Gipsy Danger versus Knifehead. In addition to ‘70s and ‘80s anime, Del Toro intended the film to resemble classical paintings like ubiquitous The Great Wave of Kanagawa and “the same sense of awe” in Francisco Goya’s terrifying The Colossus. Just compare the two and you’ll see what he’s talking about. Who said giant robots have to be artless?