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Age of Cinematic Universes: Godzilla & King Kong

Written by Mark Russell

In 1962, the world’s two greatest giant monsters came together. King Kong vs. Godzilla is considered a cult film amongst geeks and one of the most popular versus movies. The King of Apes vs. the King of All Monsters is a very appealing idea, and in 2020, Legendary Pictures will be bringing us a rematch, albeit in a new setting – a shared universe between Kong and Godzilla. Including the 2014 Godzilla film and next year’s Kong: Skull Island, we will be getting another major contender in the cinematic universe battle for the box office. But where will this exciting new smorgasbord crossover between Godzilla and Kong go?

The 2014 film was a good but flawed film, capturing the natural disaster elements of the 1954 film and when the Kaiju were actually allowed to appear onscreen, their fighting was awesome. But it was also driven by characters no one cared about, and the actual monster fights were teased and delayed until the last twenty minutes of the film. On the other hand, Kong: Skull Island looks pretty fun; Apocalypse Now with giant monsters. Kong himself has also been teased to be as big as Godzilla, so in their inevitable fight, they will be on equal ground. Both are forces of nature, have superhuman powers, and neither will likely get taken out by planes. Heck, Skull Island’s trailer shows Kong taking out helicopters, so we likely won’t see him climb up the Empire State Building anytime soon. We also know that Godzilla can survive a nuclear bomb, so that options is out too.

We also know that Kong’s first film takes place in the 1970s on Skull Island and then in Detroit. What links the two Kaiju monsters together is implied to be the government agency Monarch, introduced in Godzilla, who observe, track, and if necessary, combat the giant super species popping up. It is speculated that John Goodman‘s character in Skull Island will be a member of Monarch sent to investigate the island and its master. The trailer for the film also shows that other Kaiju live or lived on the island. Now, what if Skull Island is actually going to become Monster Island, the home for Godzilla and a number of his fellow monsters.

In the Japanese Godzilla films, Monster Island was set up by the government to contain and monitor the Kaiju. If Skull Island is not utilised, since it is also a human settlement, then perhaps Monarch will set up the nature reserve. King Kong does not have that many enemies, so perhaps some of Godzilla’s own rogues gallery could be transferred to Skull Island. A giant spider can be glimpsed in Skull Island’s trailer – possibly Kumonga, which first appeared in 1967’s Son of Godzilla. One notable Kaiju that Kong has faced is Gorosaurus, who first appeared in King Kong Escapes. Perhaps he participate in the iconic fight between Kong and the Tyrannosaur seen in the original Kong film.

I think to make the Godzilla and Kong films work, you’ll need some good human characters to carry a majority of the series. A major flaw of the Godzilla film was that they killed off Bryan Cranston‘s character and left us with his boring son. The only characters who came off as relatively interesting were Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanbe) and a surprisingly reasonable US Navy Admiral (David Strathairn). The cast for Skull Island looks good, but because that takes place nearly fifty years before Godzilla, the characters will all be both old, dead, or irrelevant. The longest-serving character in the Japanese series is Miki Saegusa (Megumi Odaka), a psychic able to actually tame the Kaiju. But since this new series may be aiming for a world realistic approach, that idea may be nonsensical.

Now, this speculation on a realistic basis seems kinda redundant since this franchise is based around a giant nuclear dinosaur and a giant monkey. Now, which other famous Kaiju could appear in this shared universe. Godzilla 2 has already promised us the appearance of Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah, all of whom are some of the more fantastical of the monsters. Rodan is pretty easy to imagine, since he is just a giant pterosaur. Mothra is a legendary nature goddess often connected to two fairies, while Ghidorah is a three-headed dragon from outer space that can spew out lightning. Both can easily be reimagined as ancient animals and both built up as gods through religious cults. A lot of Kaiju could be adapted in a similar light, though certain monsters like Gigan (cyborg alien) and Biollante (mutated rose infected with Godzilla’s cells) are a little more trickier to tackle.

Monarch lacks a proper defence against the monsters, trying to use nuclear warheads to destroy the MUTO in Godzilla, despite knowing they feed on radiation. Perhaps, like Pacific Rim, nations band together and fund research to create new weapons. This could lead to the introduction of iconic weapons like the submarine “Gotengo” or the “Super-X” aircraft. Or perhaps, even introduce MechaGodzilla as a manmade creation that is at first designed to take out Godzilla but develops a mind of its own and goes rogue.

If I had to come up with an idea for a major endgame like Avengers: Infinity War, it would feature Destoroyah, a monstrous crab-like monster created by the Oxygen Destroyer, the weapon used to defeat Godzilla in the 1954 film. I could imagine his power being strong enough to throw the climate out of whack, prompting Godzilla and other Kaiju to team up to kick his ass. The group would win but not without a couple of casualties, namely Godzilla himself, or at least leave both him and Kong on the ropes and a new number of monsters are introduced to fill in the void left by the two fallen kings. Now, if Legendary extended the deal to another Japanese film company, a good candidate would be a certain flying giant turtle…

Bringing together the east and the west’s greatest giant monsters is a stroke of creative genius, but let’s just hope that it stays that way instead of becoming a franchise made by committee. We want to see big awesome fights between the monsters, but the series also needs a fresh injection of characterization. Need an example? Go watch Pacific Rim.

What do you want to see in a Godzilla/King Kong cinematic universe? Should they bring in more classic giant monsters? Leave a comment below or on our Twitter feed.

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Mark Russell

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