Legendary Pictures surprised those at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con when, during the studio’s panel, it revealed plans to make Kong: Skull Island (then just titled Skull Island), a fresh take on the King Kong mythos. This immediately prompted speculation that a King Kong/Godzilla crossover might lie in the cards – seeing as Legendary is also behind the rebooted Godzilla movie franchise – and since then, it has been reported that such a clash of the (monster) titans is currently in development.
Kong: Skull Island was recently moved from Universal Pictures to Warner Bros. Pictures, in order to place the Kong and Godzilla properties under the same roof – and thus, better clear the path towards an eventual crossover between them. It has now been revealed that the Skull Island screenplay does, in fact, contain direct references to elements from the 2014 Godzilla reboot, as a tool to start building a shared cinematic universe around both film series.
THR has published an article detailing the currently-strained working relationship between Legendary and Universal; such tensions partly stem from the critical/commercial failures of the studios’ early 2015 releases, Blackhat and Seventh Son. That THR article also reveals that the Skull Island script – which is reported to have recently gotten a polish from Jurassic World co-writer Derek Connolly – references the Monarch organization featured in Godzilla (2014). WB was understandably wary of a Universal-backed tentpole with direct connections to one of its own lucrative IPs, but that issue has been settled – seeing as that Skull Island is now moving forward at WB, instead.
One of THR‘s insiders also noted that Universal studio executives expressed doubt about the logistics of King Kong battling the traditionally much-larger Godzilla, having said “There were funny comments about him having to be the size of the Empire State Building instead of hanging off of it.” Nonetheless, the characters have fought before (see the 1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla movie), and Legendary heads are described by THR‘s sources as being confident that they can “explain how Kong and Godzilla can do battle — and possibly become allies.”
Monarch, as is established in the official Godzilla (2014) prequel comic book “Godzilla: Awakening”, is an organization that’s formed shortly after the conclusion of WWII (specifically, in 1946), when several governments around the globe decide to join their forces in order to monitor, study, and (as necessary) hunt Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms or MUTOs. Perhaps the most infamous known MUTO is, of course, Gojira/Godzilla, as is also explained by Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (the son of one of Monarch’s earliest operatives) in director Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla film.
Former Skull Island cast member J.K. Simmons said that the film takes place (at the least, partially) during the 1970s; assuming that hasn’t changed, it makes sense for Skull Island to reference Monarch at some point. After all, the organization would no doubt be interested in keeping an eye on Kong and his fellow giant island inhabitants – as Monarch would, in fact, exist during the events of Skull Island in this shared universe. This indicates Monarch could be to Skull Island and Godzilla what S.H.I.E.L.D. is to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – a common thread and connective tissue between the different film installments, in turn.
Skull Island star Tom Hiddleston, who has confirmed that he is playing an “adventurer” in the film, refrained from revealing the movie’s time period when interviewed by MTV – no doubt to avoid spoiling too much about what director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) has in mind. Nevertheless, he claimed that the Skull Island timeline does make sense, for this particular version of the King Kong mythology.
“There’s something about the location and the time period and the cultural context of it which says something completely different about the myth. Jordan and I bonded over the power of myth and that King Kong is an emblem of something very profound about the power of nature, the sort of magic of the natural world, its mystery and our need to let it be in a way and I think that’s why the power of the mythology of Kong has endured. We’re drawn to things we don’t understand.”
Edwards’ Godzilla reboot encompassed themes about the power of nature that have long been part of the franchise, while also updating its subtext about the atomic era and fears of the nuclear apocalypse. It’s possible that Kong: Skull Island (like Hiddleston teased) will differentiate itself from that series by instead highlighting the awe and wonder of the unknown; that is, as dangerous as King Kong and the creatures of Skull Island are, they would be inspiring in a way to people who are living in a time period of disillusionment, like the 1970s. It’s worth considering, anyway.
Either way you cut it, though, Kong: Skull Island continues to sound intriguing; all the more so, given its ties to the Godzilla franchise (which is rumored to introduce even more famous Kaiju with the sequel arriving in 2018). It also helps that, in addition to Hiddleston, Vogt-Roberts’ film boasts a strong cast that includes Brie Larson (Trainwreck), the former Straight Outta Compton costars Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell, and Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Fantastic Four (2015)), with other big names reportedly in talks, ahead of production getting started on the film in the next few months.
Kong: Skull Island opens in U.S. theaters on March 10th, 2017, followed by Godzilla 2 on June 8th, 2018. The King Kong/Godzilla movie doesn’t have a release date yet.