Kong: Skull Island has been one of 2017’s most intriguing releases ever since Legendary unleashed a surprise concept trailer at the end of their SDCC 2015 panel. A totally unexpected reboot of King Kong, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s film promises to be an Apocalypse Now-hued take on the iconic eighth wonder of the world and his homeland.
Interest has been further stoked by a knock-out cast that’s basically a who’s who of the internet’s favorite actors – Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Rielly and John Goodman, among others. Although perhaps the most striking thing about this take on the big monkey is that it’s laying the groundwork for a Kong vs. Godzilla movie as part of the studio’s ambitious MonsterVerse franchise. If that makes you think Skull Island will be serving as an origin story for the giant ape, however, then you’d be wrong.
Speaking to The Nerdist on the set of the film, Vogt-Roberts said Skull Island will be setting up the future conflict subtly, with the movie introducing Kong without going too deep into the nitty-gritty of the wider world:
“When you watch Predator 2 and you see that Xenomorph skull on the spaceship you’re like, ‘Oh my God!’ Your brain just goes crazy with all these possibilities. And my favorite thing as a kid watching movies [was] just having all these little things in the background that you pick up on and your brain just goes wild with. So we’re trying to tiptoe a line. There’s a lot of stuff out there that our movie is sort of his origin story, and that’s not really what it is. There’s a lot of background mythology peppered into it as we create our own new mythology.”
Predator 2 famously featured a skull of the Alien series’ monster, nodding towards a versus comic from the previous year and setting the scene for the Alien Vs Predator series. That enterprise proved rather lackluster, but the excitement Vogt-Roberts talks about when first seeing the link is tangible. It sounds like that while there’ll be plenty of elements in Skull Island that tie the film into Godzilla and provide an idea of where Kong comes from, it will all be contextual and not directly involved in the main plot.
This approach sounds rather similar to how Marvel, who popularized the shared universe model, operate. It’s always worth remembering that while MCU movies are full of narrative set-up and pay-off, when things kicked off with Iron Man all future teases were incredibly subtle – a Captain America shield easter egg here, an Avengers-teasing post-credits scene there. That gradual lead-in proved essential for building long-term audience engagement, something Legendary appear to be rightfully aping here.
Beyond the franchise’s future, the director also talked about the process of crafting a whole new world based on a pre-existing property and how he and the team balanced explaining the great ape himself:
“There are not that many good prequels. As soon as you try to over-explain something it tends to lose its magic. We still want to have a wonderful sense of mystery and use it in a way to make our island, and our creature, and Kong’s character feel bigger because you understand some of it, but we’re not trying to pull back the curtain on everything.”
Skull Island won’t be following the basic plot of the 1993 original (unlike the 1976 and 2005 versions), but neither is it using that as an opportunity to delve needlessly deeper. This is another reassuring step; to explain Kong beyond simple being a big gorilla can only hurt his mystique.
Source: The Nerdist