It’s powerful Titan pitted against Titan in the first trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong, the fourth film released as part of Legendary Picture’s “MonsterVerse” franchise, co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Directed by Adam Wingard, the film is not meant to be a remake of the 1962 Japanese classic, King Kong vs. Godzilla; rather, per Wingard, it will directly tie into the events of its 2019 predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and feature a “more rugged” and aging Kong.
(Some spoilers for some prior films in the MonsterVerse franchise below.)
The MonsterVerse franchise started in 2014 with Godzilla, in which a soldier tries to return to his family while caught in the crossfire of the battle between Godzilla and a pair of parasitic monsters known as MUTOs. The studio followed up three years later with Kong: Skull Island, set in 1973, in which a team of scientists and soldiers travel to the titular Skull Island and encounter Kong, the last survivor of his species. And in 2019, the studio released Godzilla: King of the Monsters, a sequel to the 2014 film, in which Godzilla and Mothra team up to defeat a prehistoric alien named King Ghidorah, who has awakened other ancient creatures (Titans) to destroy the world.
Scenes shown during the end credits depicted “good” Titans helping to heal the planet, a possible second Mothra egg, a few Titans heading toward Skull Island, and ancient cave paintings of Godzilla battling Kong. Also, a post-credits scene showed someone acquiring Ghidorah’s severed head, hinting at the alien’s possible return (despite its defeat). That seems to be where Godzilla vs. Kong picks up. Per the official premise:
Legends collide in Godzilla vs. Kong as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The 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.
We also know from past descriptions released by Warner Bros. and Legendary that Monarch—the organization devoted to studying the Titans—hopes to unearth clues about the origins of the gigantic creatures, and that there is a “human conspiracy” (isn’t there always?) to “wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the Earth forever.” The film stars Alexander Skarsgård as Nathan Lind, a geologist/reluctant hero on Team Kong, while Millie Bobby Brown reprises her role as Madison Russell from Godzilla: King of the Monsters (most likely Team Godzilla). The cast also includes Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Jessica Henwick, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, and Demián Bichir.
As one might expect, the trailer is chock-full of big-budget battle scenes between Godzilla and Kong, with the humans frantically wondering why the former is suddenly hurting people. “There is something provoking him that we’re not seeing here,” Madison declares in defense of her buddy, but just how far will her loyalty stretch? And it looks like we will be returning to Skull Island, apparently the site of an ancient war, with Kong and Godzilla the last ones standing. (We already know from Kong: Skull Island that ancient reptilian creatures called Skullcrawlers wiped out the King’s entire species.)
One of the most difficult challenges about making these movies is that the puny humans and their quaint terrestrial concerns are so easily dwarfed by the gigantic godlike creatures battling it out, with no consideration for all the massive property damage they cause. Godzilla: King of the Monsters in particular was criticized for its lack of emotional resonance and character development. No amount of eye-popping visual effects and stunning action sequences can make up for that, or salvage the hopelessly muddled storylines that marred both it and Kong: Skull Island. Judging by this trailer, we’re probably in for more of the same with Godzilla vs. Kong. That said, although Wingard has described his film as a “massive monster brawl movie,” he’s also said he wanted there to be an “emotional drive” to it as well.
The 1962 film didn’t have a clear winner in the epic fight: Kong technically prevailed, but there were hints Godzilla survived and returned to his murky depths to regroup. We’ll see if Wingard follows a similar strategy, although we are told in the trailer that “Kong bows to no one.” It’s a safe bet that if you liked the prior films, you’ll probably like this one, too. And in a relatively uncrowded theater landscape, it might just provide the mental escape audiences crave right now.
Godzilla vs. Kong is slated to be released on March 26, 2021, simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max.
Listing image by YouTube/Warner Bros.