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Godzilla film series character
Varan the Unbelievable.jpg
Varan featured in Varan the Unbelievable
First appearanceVaran the Unbelievable (1958)
Last appearanceDestroy All Monsters (1968)
Created byKen Kuronuma
Portrayed byHaruo Nakajima
Katsumi Tezuka
Obaki (English version)
SpeciesMonitor lizard-like kaiju

Varan (Japanese: バラン, Hepburn: Baran) is a fictional monster, or kaiju, which first appeared in the 1958 film Varan the Unbelievable, directed by Ishirō Honda and produced and distributed by Toho. Varan is depicted as a giant prehistoric reptile capable of gliding flight, and would go on to appear in the 1968 film Destroy All Monsters, the ninth film in the Godzilla franchise.[1]


In its first appearance, Varan is a kaiju that lives in a saltwater lake within the Kunishiroshima valley, where it is known to the natives as Baradagi-Sanjin. It kills an expedition duo and then completely destroys a nearby village. The monster proceeds to attack Tokyo until it is tricked by the military into eating bombs. After a few detonate in its stomach, Varan is mortally wounded and escapes back into the ocean. After final bomb explodes, Varan is defeated.

Varan reappears in Destroy All Monsters living in Monsterland with many other monsters including Godzilla, Mothra, Kumonga, Anguirus, Baragon, Minilla, Rodan, Gorosaurus, and Manda. Varan is seen in the wide screen version of the film, gliding in to join the other Earth monsters to fight against King Ghidorah, although it does not actually take part in the fight. Within the context of the film itself it is only seen on Monsterland's monitors early in the film, gliding down to the ground prior to the climactic fight at the end of the movie, and in the last scene gliding up into the air as a static model rather than as an actor in a suit. It is never mentioned by name in this film and its roar is not heard.

Varan makes a cameo in Godzilla: Final Wars using stock footage from Varan the Unbelievable during the narrative at the beginning, claiming that Varan was one of many monsters that arose due to the devastation that the World Wars brought, along with Gezora, Baragon, Gaira, Titanosaurus, and Megaguirus.

Varan is 50 meters (164 feet) tall and weighs 15,000 metric tons (16,534 short tons).[2]

Varan made a brief return in Godzilla: Monster Apocalypse. In 2030, the United States Navy detected three monsters in the Pacific Ocean, the fourth Anguirus and the second Varan and Baragon. The three emerged on the coast of Los Angeles, but instead of attacking the city, they tried to run away from something. The three monsters appear to be wounded. Later, a gigantic monster named "Godzilla" emerged from the ocean and followed the three. Godzilla shot his atomic breath toward Varan, producing a powerful EMP and crushed all of the area's weaponry. The remaining two escaped but Godzilla managed to caught and killed them, Godzilla then started attacking humanity. After destroying Los Angeles and San Francisco, Godzilla disappeared into the Pacific Ocean. There is no information about the first Varan, but it was likely defeated somewhere prior to 2030.

Appearance and abilities[edit]

Eiji Tsuburaya and Akira Watanabe based Varan's design on that of a Draco lizard, Godzilla, and a kappa. The name Varan is derived from Varanus pater, or "father of lizards."[3] However, it may also be named after the genus of monitor lizards Varanus. In its film appearances, Varan does not have any special abilities such as fiery or radioactive breath. It can however glide at speeds of Mach 1.5, and has a row of spines along its body which may afford protection.

Action figures[edit]

Few figures of Varan have been issued compared to other kaiju film monsters. Bullmark released the first ever Varan vinyl toy in 1970. Bandai has only issued Varan in gashapon form as part of High Grade Series 6, in promotion for the film Godzilla 2000. Y-MSF has also released a figure on the 6" scale in 2005. Other companies, such as CCP, Marmit, Trendmasters, and the modern version of Marusan have also released Varan figures.


In one of the early drafts of what would become Godzilla vs. Gigan, Varan was to have joined Godzilla and Rodan in defending the Earth against King Ghidorah, Gigan, and a new monster that had never been seen before with the name Mogu.[4] Shusuke Kaneko, director of the popular Heisei Gamera trilogy had originally considered Varan, along with Anguirus, to star in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack as antagonists to Godzilla. Varan and Anguirus were however replaced with the far more popular Mothra and King Ghidorah.[5] The suit designer is said to have compromised by giving some of Varan's facial features to King Ghidorah.


Video games[edit]



  1. ^ Barr, Jason (2016). The Kaiju Film: A Critical Study of Cinema's Biggest Monsters. McFarland & Co. p. 72. ISBN 9781476623955.
  2. ^ Lees, J.D. (1998). The Official Godzilla Compendium. Random House. p. 140. ISBN 0679888225.
  3. ^ Ragone, August (2007). Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-8118-6078-9.
  4. ^ Rodan's Roost: Kaiju Scrap-yard: Return of King Ghidorah
  5. ^ Rodan's Roost: Kaiju Scrap-yard: Varan, Baragon, Anguirus: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack - Godzilla 2002

External links[edit]

Media related to Varan at Wikimedia Commons