I’m sure we have some vague memories of seeing Kong thumping his chest triumphantly while perched atop of the Empire State Building or watching a janky looking Godzilla make his way across the screen.
With a new instalment to the Godzilla and King Kong franchise, here’s what you should know before watching the two giants duke it out on 26 March.
What can you expect from Godzilla Vs. Kong?
For those of us who aren’t hardcore Godzilla and King Kong fans, we might only know them as gigantic monsters, often causing destruction and rampage wherever they go. So, let’s briefly dive into the story.
Following the events of Kong: Skull Island (2017) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), Kong forms a special bond with an orphaned girl named Jia as he and his protectors tackle an arduous journey to find his true home. However, they are unexpectedly disrupted by Godzilla, rampaging and inciting chaos across the world.
The synopsis goes on to reveal a deeper secret, that “[t]he epic clash between the two titans—instigated by unseen forces—is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth.”
A Combined Cinematic Universe?
Yes, you heard that right! Aptly named “MonsterVerse”, the fictional combined universe is produced by Legendary Entertainment and co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros.
In fact, it was announced back in 2015 (ah how time flies). In Legendary’s press release, they’ve stated that the movie will “[reveal] a mythology that brings together Godzilla and Legendary’s King Kong in an ecosystem of other giant super-species, both classic and new.”
Godzilla Vs. Kong will be the fourth film in the MonsterVerse franchise, following the initial trio—Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
“Monarch” will play a pivotal role in Godzilla Vs. Kong
The press release additionally reveals that the human organisation that uncovered Godzilla in Godzilla (2014), named “Monarch”, will “expand their mission across multiple releases.” Monarch is a major scientific organisation founded in secrecy in 1962 in order to hunt and study massive unidentified terrestrial organisms (MUTOs).
In the 2014 Godzilla film, Monarch quarantined the city of Janjira as the creature had attached itself to a nuclear reactor to feed, allowing the organisation to study the creature. Monarch also conducted the expedition to Skull Island in Kong: Skull Island (2017).
The shared cinematic franchise will ultimately be “centred around Monarch”, according to Legendary Entertainment.
Tired of metaphors in literature lessons and think they are boring? Get this—Godzilla was inspired by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the Lucky Dragon 5 incident. The creature acts as a metaphor for nuclear weapons, highlighting the fears of post-war Japan that had been deeply shaken by the destruction.
King Kong, on the other hand, was inspired by Paul Du Chaillu’s Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa. Cooper, the creator of King Kong, was especially captivated by one of Chaillu’s depictions of a humongous gorilla that the natives described as “invincible” and “King of the African Forest”.
Not the last…but not the first either?
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first film featuring both Kong and Godzilla. Waaay back in 1962 (yes, you read that right. 1962), Japan had produced King Kong Vs. Godzilla as part of the ‘kaiju’ film genre. In fact, the first Godzilla film in 1954 is often regarded as the first ‘kaiju’ film.
The term literally translates to strange beasts, and it was originally used to refer to the creatures from ancient Japanese legends. To find out more about the genre and the relevant films, click here.
King Kong Vs. Godzilla is the third film of the original Godzilla franchise and it was also the first time that both creatures appeared on the widescreen and in colour.
The film went on to have the highest box office attendance figures of all Godzilla films to date, selling 11.2 million tickets in its initial theatrical run. Now that’s bananas!
Alexander Skarsgård plays Nathan Lind, a geologist who works closely with Kong. The Swedish actor has won various notable awards, such as the Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
His co-star, Millie Bobby Brown, will reprise her role as Madison Russell who has to ultimately decide on whether to side with Kong or Godzilla. For those of you who have been binging Netflix, you’ll know her for her role as Eleven in Stranger Things and Enola Holmes in well, Enola Holmes.
If you’re a fan of Japanese pop culture, he might sound familiar. Shun Oguri, who played Gintoki in the Gintama live-action film and Arsène Lupin III in Lupin 3rd, will play Ren Serizawa in Godzilla Vs. Kong. This is his Hollywood debut film.
Zhang Ziyi, who ranked in the Top 5 of Forbes China Celebrity 100 list every year from 2004 to 2010 will also reprise her role as Dr Ilene Chen and Dr Ling from Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Other cast members include Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler and Demián Bichir.
Directed by Adam Wingard
If you are unfamiliar with Wingard, he is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, editor, cinematographer, and composer. He has directed prominent films such as the 2011 slasher film You’re Next, 2014 thriller film The Guest and the infamous American adaptation of Death Note on Netflix.
Wingard is especially notable for his works in the horror genre, with The Guest going on to receive wide critical acclaim upon its theatrical release.
Godzilla Vs. Kong in the context of COVID-19
The film was expectedly delayed several times, and was previously scheduled to be released in 2020 on 13 March, 22 May, 29 May, 20 November and later 21 May 2021. Warner Bros film chief Toby Emmerich had recognised the need for delays in order to produce a high-quality film.
Due to the pandemic, the movie was moved up to be released on 31 March 2021.
One can only wonder if it’d be delayed again.
Legendary Entertainment, Netflix and no chill from Warner Bros
It was originally unclear whether Godzilla Vs. Kong would have a streaming release. Netflix had offered $200-$250 million, however, WarnerMedia had blocked the deal in favour of offering to release the film on HBO Max.
In December 2020, Warner Bros had announced that Godzilla Vs. Kong alongside other films would be given same-day theatrical and streaming releases, the latter being available for a month.
Legendary Entertainment was disappointed with the actions that Warner Bro had taken that lacked transparency in their intentions.
However, with both companies nearing an agreement, the simultaneous release will likely occur.
Roaring its way into theatres
Godzilla Vs. Kong is set to be released both in theatres and on HBO Max simultaneously on 31 March 2021 in the United States. WarnerMedia has allowed the film to be streamed on HBO Max for a month.
While HBO Max is unavailable to us, fortunately, the movie will be available in theatres in Singapore on 26 March 2021.
Has this gotten you excited for the literal blockbuster Godzilla Vs. Kong? Catch the trailer here:
Featured Image: YouTube (Warner Bros. Pictures)