MOVIES

Who Is Ultraman, What Are His Powers & What’s With That Costume?

The “Ultra” series and Ultraman in particular kicked off a subgenre of Tokusatsu that’s often called the Kyodai Hero genre. It focuses on giant superheroes (or occasionally robots, like in the case of Godzilla’s co-star Jet Jaguar) who battle various enemies, often kaiju. Often, the hero in question is normal-sized in their day-to-day life but is able to grow to massive heights through either their powers or their suit.

Even if you’re new to the Ultraman universe, you likely have some indirect experience with the Kyodai Hero genre. The most prominent example in the West is the “Power Rangers” series, the action scenes of which were ripped straight out of a Japanese Kyodai series called “Super Sentai.” The American high school storylines in the various “Rangers” shows were filmed separately to change the context of the fights. Another example appears in “Dragon Ball Z” when Gohan takes on the superhero alter-ego Great Saiyaman. While this character doesn’t become enormous, his helmet is very reminiscent of the robot-esque costume stylings of characters from “Ultraman” and “Super Sentai.”

In the years since the original series, Ultraman has appeared in dozens upon dozens of movies, live-action shows, animated projects, comics, books, and other media. The franchise is also massive on the toys and collectibles end, having generated billions of dollars in merchandise sales over the years.

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