Tom Hiddleston was the acting discovery of the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: a charismatic actor who was plucked from relative obscurity to co-star as the evil Loki in Thor, and was so enthusiastically well-received in the role he went on to play the central villain of The Avengers and steal the show in Thor: The Dark World. His next blockbuster gig (at least until a presumed return in Thor: Ragnarok) is Kong: Skull Island, a period fantasy-adventure looking to reinvigorate the King Kong franchise.
The mythology of King Kong was largely made up for the original 1933 classic movie, though heavily inspired by other popular stories of lost civilizations and strange creatures of the era. Later films have expanded on the idea and added new elements, including the direct sequel Son of Kong, the 1970s remake, several animated takes on the concept, a pair of Japanese reworkings (King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes) in the 1960s and Peter Jackson’s big-budget remake from back in 2005.
Skull Island looks to move beyond the traditional structure of retelling the original King Kong story and instead build a new mythology with greater emphasis on Kong’s origins and his place in the world. As Hiddleston explained in an interview with EW:
“I don’t want to spoil too much… But it’s a whole new reconception of the mythology. It essentially follows a group of disparate travelers and explorers and soldiers who travel to an undiscovered island in the South Pacific. And it’s set in a time period where you could conceive that there are still undiscovered places on the Earth. What they find on the island is surprising, and then every character has a very different response to it. It’s going to be spectacular and epic, but also the human drama is kind of interesting as well.”
Additionally, the film is part of a broader attempt by Legendary Pictures (which holds a creative stake in the project and helped move it from Universal to Warner Bros last year) to construct a “universe” of kaiju movies, with the endgame being a modernized version of the “King Kong vs, Godzilla” setup. Beyond the title, the premise of the proposed feature is unknown, including whether or not Hiddleston’s Skull Island character plays a role and how the new series will account for Kong traditionally being depicted several hundred feet shorter than Godzilla.
For now, with filming on the giant gorilla epic completed, Hiddleston will likely focus on continued promotion of his new Hank Williams biopic I Saw The Light, currently in theaters. He’s also been mentioned as a potential successor to Daniel Craig as James Bond, though such talk remains mainly hypothetical at this time. While many fans expect that he’ll make at least one more post-Ragnarok appearance in one of the final two-part Avengers movies, the actor has not officially committed to that either.
Kong: Skull Island opens in theaters March 10, 2017. Godzilla 2 opens June 8, 2018. Godzilla vs. Kong releases sometime in 2020.