King Kong is getting a reboot on the big screen in 2017, with the theatrical release of Kong: Skull Island. The film takes place in the 1970s and follows a team of explorers on a mission to the eponymous island; a place forgotten by time, where giant creatures and mystical beasts still roam the landscape. Every kingdom needs it king, of course, and Skull Island has its own in the form of Kong – or, as he’s also known, the Eighth Wonder of the World.
There are glimpses of Kong throughout the teaser trailer for Kong: Skull Island that Warner Bros. Pictures debuted at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con this past summer. Now, however, we have a proper first-look image showing the big guy himself in action – and appearing to be not-too-happy about something (possibly those pesky humans intruding on his territory).
Here is what Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts told EW, with regard to what’s happening in said first-look photo of King Kong from the film (see below):
That sequence comes from a point in the movie where you’re not quite sure who Kong is, what his purpose is, how people should be perceiving him. Through the folly of man, where our initial instinct is to attack anything that is not a known quantity, both sides jump the gun, Kong and the humans, and it kicks off a relatively messy engagement. At first, of course you’re going to perceive something like that as a terrible threat and monster — the physicality of him alone.
Kong himself was brought to life in Kong: Skull Island through CGI and motion-capture acting; with Skull Island costar Toby Kebbell (who portrayed the ape Koba via mo-cap performance in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) providing facial expressions and seasoned mo-cap actor Terry Notary handling the character’s physical movements. King Kong was previously brought to life on the big screen through digital effects and mo-cap performance in director Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong movie, where Planet of the Apes franchise star Andy Serkis played Kong.
Whereas Serkis’ Kong moves in a fairly realistic (read: animalistic) manner, Vogt-Roberts told EW that it was actually the stop-motion Kong from the original 1993 King Kong that served more as the template for Kong in his own movie:
We sort of went back to the 1933 version in the sense that he’s a bipedal creature that walks in an upright position, as opposed to the anthropomorphic, anatomically correct silverback gorilla that walks on all fours. Our Kong was intended to say, like, this isn’t just a big gorilla or a big monkey. This is something that is its own species. It has its own set of rules, so we can do what we want and we really wanted to pay homage to what came before…and yet do something completely different.
Vogt-Roberts also teased that unlike the 2014 Godzilla movie reboot, which exists in the same universe as Kong: Skull Island, moviegoers won’t have to wait too long until King Kong shows up in his own giant monster movie:
… We’re also fundamentally not playing the same game that Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla did and most monster movies do, which I’m sort of sick of the notion that a monster movie needs to wait an hour or 40 minutes until the creature shows up. Kong traditionally does not show up in these movies until very, very late, and the monster traditionally does not show up until very, very late in a monster movie, so a lot of these movies tend to have this structure that’s a bit of a slow burn. Something about this movie made me want to reject that and play a very, very different game.
For much more from Vogt-Roberts about Kong: Skull Island – including, his insight on the process behind the making of the “super-sized” Kong in the movie and why the director views Kong as an inherently tragic character – you should read the full EW article. Skull Island itself features a human cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and Corey Hawkins. The movie is based on a screenplay written by Derek Connolly (Jurassic World), Max Borenstein (Godzilla), John Gatins (Real Steel) and Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler).