Welcome to the New Age: Radioactive Heroes and Villains
Godzilla has nuclear energy to thank for being awakened from his ancient slumber – although he doesn't seem too happy about it. Slip into your hazmat suit and take a look at these other irradiated characters.
BRUCE BANNER, 'The Incredible Hulk' (2008)
A humble scientist (played by Edward Norton in this incarnation) gets blasted with a heavy dose of gamma rays; the rest is green-skinned, purple-trousered history. We do like him when he's angry.
DR. MANHATTAN, 'Watchmen' (2009)
In this revisionist superhero film, adapted from the graphic novel, brilliant physicist Jon Osterman (Billy Crudup) is accidentally disintegrated, only to later re-integrate himself as an all-powerful, godlike entity.
MAX FIELDER, 'Modern Problems' (1981)
Chevy Chase gets a truckload of nuclear waste dumped on his head. Suddenly he is gifted with telekinesis, which he uses to humiliate his enemies in ways that are variously hilarious, cruel, and disgusting.
ANDREW, MATT, AND STEVE, 'Chronicle' (2012)
This found footage sci fi film never explains why a weird glowing crystal gives these three teenagers superpowers, but it's a safe bet that there's some cosmic radiation at work.
RHEDOSAURUS, 'The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms' (1953)
An atomic blast thaws out a hibernating dinosaur, who shows his gratitude by destroying a major city. Sound familiar? This B-movie came out a year before the first Godzilla, but has humans using radiation against the monster.
ANTS, 'Them!' (1954)
Despite its alarmist title and silly subject matter – giant irradiated ants wreak havoc on mankind – Them! is actually a smart, suspenseful thriller. It was even Oscar-nominated for its special effects.
KAREN SILKWOOD, 'Silkwood' (1983)
This film, based on actual events, stars Meryl Streep as the title heroine, a nuclear power plant employee who is exposed to radiation. When she blows the whistle on the plant's dangers, the powers that be decide to shut her up.
MAX DA COSTA, 'Elysium' (2013)
Radiation poisoning also does nothing good for Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a poor man living on a ravaged future Earth. With just days to live, he hopes to find a cure on Elysium, the orbiting space station reserved for the ultra-rich.
MUTANT CANNIBALS, 'Chernobyl Diaries' (2012)
A group of tourists decides to poke around the abandoned – and still contaminated – Chernobyl nuclear reactor. This obviously bad idea is exacerbated when they run into some afflicted locals.
PETER PARKER, 'Spider-Man' (2002)
Back to the superhero realm we go for one of Marvel's most well-known origin stories: nerdy photographer Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) gets bitten by a radioactive spider and his life changes forever.
THE FANTASTIC FOUR, 'Fantastic Four' (2005)
It's a Marvel trope: If you're not a mutant, then you're likely to have gotten your superpowers from being irradiated. Just ask Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm about those cosmic rays.
NUCLEAR MAN, 'Superman IV: The Quest for Peace' (1987)
How could we forget Lex Luthor's goofy creation Nuclear Man? Though we might prefer to; many agree that the Superman movie franchise hit a low with this mulleted supervillain, played by Mark Pillow but voiced by Gene Hackman.