It began as a whisper back in 2015. After 2014’s Godzilla become a solid success, the development of a King Kong reboot between Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros led to considerable speculation on the two titans of cinema sharing the screen together. It has taken some years to get to this point but at long last the moment has arrived with Godzilla vs Kong scheduled for a simultaneous theatrical and streaming release in the USA and arriving in the UK this week on digital platforms. Let’s get hyped.
The Monsterverse has been the only post-Marvel Cinematic Universe crossover franchise that has been of note. Whilst the DC Extended Universe became directionless and hurried and Universal’s Dark Universe barely made it past one film, the promise of seeing iconic monsters fighting onscreen in full glory that modern VFX work can allow has been a scintillating thought. Godzilla, the first entry in the franchise, was a mature Nolanised reboot by Gareth Edwards with some truly stunning photography, speaker-shuddering sound design and a masterful sense of scale. In 2017 came Kong: Skull Island which wore its B-movie origins on its sleeve (e.g. a military soldier setting up a machine gun in the skull of a triceratops) and utilised a very pop-culture-friendly cast as well as a Vietnam War setting for all its monkey business. It is as true a piece of entertainment as they come. Then in 2019 along came Godzilla: King of the Monsters which was a film made entirely for the fans. Despite delivering on enormous monster battles, undeniable spectacle and an ensemble of beloved Toho monsters, its box office was mediocre due to it being unfortunately released under the immovable shadow of Marvel behemoth Avengers Endgame. Thankfully, its sequel, which would tie the films together, had already begun production.
With an exceedingly indecisive release date having teased fans for some time now, late March and early April now seem set in concrete. This prompted the studio to finally drop a trailer, one that got everyone talking and leading to it becoming one Warner Bros’ most viewed trailers on YouTube. It looks incredible. Lockdown has created a viewing apathy; familiarity and comfort has triumphed over the new, making it hard to find the motivation to sit down and absorb something different. Godzilla vs Kong is the antidote. If the trailer is anything to go by, this will be the most stupid, outrageous, but completely astonishing film of the year. It will not require concentration or backstory, just a bag of Butterkist Popcorn and a Tango Ice Blast (homemade will have to do for now). Like Finding Nemo or Snakes on a Plane, the premise of Godzilla vs Kong is in the title. Forget the human characters, they are just a means to an end. We are here for the big guys.
In the red corner is a 393-foot tall spicy iguana, the alpha of all the monsters armed with an atomic breath and who can also absorb nuclear bombs for a level up. In the blue corner is a giant gorilla. But cinema’s greatest ape (sorry Caesar) is more of a threat than originally thought. The Kong of the 1970s set Skull Island was a lot younger and still growing, hence his ‘sudden’ increase in height to match that of Godzilla, whilst the final shots of the trailer depict the monkey wielding a spear fashioned from one of the fins off Godzilla’s back. The action looks eye-popping and colourful, and it also looks like we might get to see the ‘hollow earth’ that has been referenced throughout the franchise. My prediction is Ice Age 3 but bigger. It is also likely Mecha-Godzilla will show up as some final big-bad for the two to bond over fighting, but I am here for that level of predictability. Big things hitting other big things has always been popular search “King Kong scenes” on YouTube and you’ll be surprised by how many millions of views some of his clips have) but this is surely the zenith of cinematic showdowns, so all other aspects are irrelevant.
The two monsters have often been seen as powerful metaphors: Kong as an image of colonialism and capitalism, and Godzilla as a symbol of nuclear destruction. Only Hollywood would fuse these metaphors together by having the two titans smack the bananas out of each other on an aircraft carrier. But for 2021, I want nothing else. It has the action, it has the novelty, it has the meme value: this might be the best film of my life.
Godzilla vs Kong is available to stream now via selected digital platforms. Watch the trailer below: