Rodan ((ラドン, Radon) is a prehistoric pteranodon-like kaiju that first appeared in the movie Rodan, a 1956 release from Toho Studio.
The Japanese name Radon is a contraction of pteranodon and may also have been chosen to suggest radiation. Radon is usually referred to as Rodan in the United States, possibly to avoid confusion with the atomic element Radon; also, any time his name is written in English in Japan, it is written as Rodan.
Heisei Rodan, while bigger and heavier than the Showa version, is notably much smaller relative to the larger version of Godzilla, standing only about 2/3 as tall as the other monster and having a wingspan 1/2 Godzilla's height. The prominent rows of spines on his belly are replaced with overlapping ridges of bone, and he has three horns on his head instead of two (the outer two curve outwards and the center curves up), as well as a wider beak, a more predatory face, and susceptibility to Godzilla's atomic breath.
Rodan's primary weapons are his speed and agility; he can create hurricane-force winds and destructive sonic booms in his wake by flying at supersonic speeds at low altitude. His beak is powerful enough to crush boulders and his wings, despite their delicate appearance, are quite durable. Rodan can lift creatures several times his weight, for instance, Godzilla. Rodan also usually has spikes on his head and chest, which he may use in battle. Rodan can also emit a blast of wind from his mouth in the 1956 movie, but this concept was never used again.
In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, Rodan develops the ability to emit a radioactive heat beam from his mouth called his uranium heat beam, after exposure to Godzilla and a radioactive waste disposal site. Rodan is also shown to withstand Godzilla's atomic breath. In Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster Godzilla uses his breath against Rodan several times but the pterosaur seemed unaffected by it at all, only shaking his head in an annoyed manner. Rodan also shrugged off King Ghidorah's gravity beams; in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Invasion of the Astro-Monster. He was struck several times on his wings but showed no pain or reaction.
In Rodan, two eggs, one male and the other female, were unearthed and awakened by mining operations in Kitamatsu along with a swarm of prehistoric insects called Meganulons. After devouring several people and reducing Sasebo to ruins, one Rodan is maimed in a bombardment of their nest in Mount Aso and falls, apparently fatally, into a volcanic eruption triggered by the attack. The other grief-stricken Rodan flies into the volcano to join the first. Also, as with Godzilla, the U.S. version differs from the original Japanese release by more than simple matters of language translation; the original Japanese version is much darker in tone. It also has one of the Rodans damaged by a jet fighter, hindering its ability to fly at supersonic speeds.
Rodan went on to cross over into the Godzilla series. It is explained that this is the male Rodan from the 1956 film and he was resurrected by accumulated volcanic gas, appearing in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster in 1964 when he broke out of the crust of the volcano and helped Godzilla and Mothra defeat King Ghidorah. In this appearance and all subsequent appearances in the Showa series, Rodan is as tall as Godzilla. Rodan appeared with Godzilla again in Invasion of the Astro-Monster, where both were mind-controlled by Xilians to destroy Earth's cities and later fought King Ghidorah again when the mind control was broken.
In Destroy All Monsters, Rodan was again used by aliens to wreak havoc on Earth, this time by the Kilaaks. Again the mind control was broken and the monsters fought King Ghidorah. Rodan would only appear again in the Showa series in stock footage used for Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, and Terror of Mechagodzilla.
Rodan in the Heisei series appeared in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, where he sought to protect BabyGodzilla, whose egg was in the same nest as Rodan. Rodan played a vital role in the film's climax, sacrificing his own life to revive Godzilla by transferring his life-energy to him. Godzilla then destroyed Super Mechagodzilla as retribution for Rodan's death.
After being defeated and left for dead by Godzilla, Rodan was revived by the psychic song of an ancient plant that had covered Baby Godzilla's egg. Godzilla's radiation mutated Rodan, changing his colors from brown and tan to brick red and light yellow/gold. Fire Rodan also gained a purple colored atomic breath similar to Godzilla's. His beak is powerful enough to break through boulders. Like the Showa version, Rodan seems impervious to Godzilla's breath but only to an extent. Being hit several times and not seeming affected until later in the battle.
In the 2004 film, Godzilla: Final Wars, Rodan is used as a weapon of destruction by an alien race called the Xiliens via mind control. He appeared alongside an all-star cast of classic Showa monsters, as they wreaked havoc on the major cities of the world and were sent to fight the mutant dinosaur Godzilla. Rodan attacked New York City, and later fought alongside the guardian monster King Caesar and Anguirus to fight Godzilla, only to be defeated near Mount Fuji, but Godzilla did not kill them; Toho's way of paying homage to the times in the past all three had fought by his side.