Bigger Than Life: Monsters in Pop Culture

Posted by David Winnick

[source: Legendary Pictures]

Some personalities are bigger than life. In the case of media, there are actors like Sir. Ian McKellen, writers like Herman Melville and artists like Jack “King” Kirby. While these people are all bigger than big, they also have one thing in common: bigger than life monsters. Whether they fought them in films, wrote about them in novels or drew them in comics, each one of these men knows what it is like to be tied inextricably to an enormous beast. With Pacific Rim: Uprising just around the corner, we wanted to take a look at some of the biggest baddest monsters to ever grace pop culture.


Moby-Dick from Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

While whaling has long gone out of style in most of the modern world, Moby-Dick harkens back to a not so long ago time when men ventured out to sea to earn a little money hunting down the great giants of the ocean. Though the titular animal is not the only whale to be crossed over the duration of the novel, he is the biggest, toughest, most terrifying monster in the sea. A man eating, ship crushing force of nature, Moby Dick pushes lead character Ishmael to his limits and the villainous Captain Ahab to the limits of sanity.


The Balrog of Morgoth from The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein

This enormous demon from the nether realms nearly derails The Fellowship from their mission as they are attempting to traverse The Mines of Moria. With his flaming whip and sword, The Balrog separates Gandalf the Grey from the rest of his team and nearly kills the powerful Wizard. Possibly one of the most memorable giant monsters of literature, this creature no doubt haunts the nightmares of fantasy lovers the world round.


Galactus – First appearance Fantastic Four #48 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

The Devourer of Worlds is one of the many monikers of the mighty Galactus. When Pluto could count as an afternoon snack, size is no joke. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, this monster has been haunting the Marvel Universe for decades. While it seems like stopping something like this would be near impossible, the many heroes of Marvel comics have managed to deter him time and time again. One of the most hilarious ways to stop him was when Reed Richards used himself as a slingshot to launch The Thing directly into the face of the celestial being.


The Cthulhu from "The Call of the Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft

This elder god is a giant half octopus half dragon creature. One of the many strange beings created by Lovecraft over his years of writing, Cthulhu is worshipped by cultists in the short story where he makes his appearance. Though not one of the best known monsters in the world, Cthulhu has begun gathering a head of steam in recent years. Appearing in episodes of South Park, the topic of heavy metal songs, and even being turned into stuffed animals, this strange being seems to be gaining a foothold in popular culture.


[source: Lucasfilms Ltd.]

The Rancor from Return of the Jedi

While he didn’t have a ton of screen time, this monster is by far one of the most memorable aliens of the Star Wars universe. While this beast almost became the end of hero Luke Skywalker, the newly minted Jedi Knight managed to defeat the giant pit beast. The thing that really makes the Rancor stand out is the reaction of its keeper who cries over the loss of his favorite animal.


Malebolgia from Spawn

One of the greater demons of hell, Malebolgia is the creator of the Spawns. One of the more manipulative characters in comic books, Malebolgia is as good as his word, it is just a matter of what those words are. He did keep his promise to Al Simmons and brought him back to Earth to see his wife again, he just brought the character into the future where his wife was remarried and had a kid. It isn’t the demon’s fault that poor Al didn’t read the fine print.