The Jaegers and Kaiju, the respective mechs and monsters from Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, may be the latest, and largest, of their particular sci-fi ilk, but they’re far from the first. Each is just the most recent evolution of species—one literal, one figurative—that have a long, distinguished genre lineage. This new infographic charts the cinematic development of both the giant creatures, and large mechanical men as they’ve grown over time.
Originating with the good people over at Next Movie, this picture traces the progression of our new monster and mechanical friends. Click HERE for a bigger version. It resembles the iconic image that illustrates how humans evolved into our current form, only this is so much cooler because it involves big, scary creatures, and equally big, equally scary mechanical suits, with occasional robots thrown in for good measure.
This is a pretty thorough list. Of course, if we wanted to we could pick it apart and find some glaring omissions if we want to. But that’s a lot of effort, and this is damn cool, all-inclusive or not.
On the monster side of things, we journey all the way back to the 1933 for King Kong, the first giant monster movie, and still one of the true classics of the genre. There are some obvious choices. You can’t have a list like this without Godzilla, he is the King of all Monsters after all, and without him there would be no Pacific Rim. It’s also nice to see a few less easy choices on the list, and it warms my heart to see the creature from Bong Joon-ho’s The Host, the best monster in modern memory.
Kaiju itself is the Japanese word for monster, and also the term for this style of classic creature feature. Watching Pacific Rim—which you should totally do because it is super fun—you realize that del Toro is allowing you to witness his love letter to the genre. It’s just a really, really big love letter.
As far as the mech side goes, there is a mixture of actual robots, like the Iron Giant and the Transformers, and big ass mechanical suits controlled by humans, like Voltron, and the gladiator-style creations from Robot Jox. This is, of course, the approach the Jaegers take. They’re more giant mechanical battle suits than they are true to form robots, but both definitely play into their design.
You definitely see the distinct family resemblance on both sides.
In Pacific Rim the Kaiju emerge from a transdimensional rift on the bottom of the ocean. Since these massive beasts have a tendency to stomp through entire cities, causing widespread death and destruction, scientists come up with the Jaegers to combat this new problem. But the monsters continue to evolve and develop. There are multiple incarnations, and over time they get bigger, meaner, and harder to kill. So this infographic is even more immediately applicable to the film than just a usual.