What Could James Conrad's Role In Godzilla 2 Be?
If we're making the (somewhat safe) assumption that Charles Dance is playing James Conrad in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, that then begs the question of what the character's role is in the movie.
The main plot of Godzilla 2 is centered on the Russell family. Vera Farmiga's Emma believes that an unfolding apocalypse can be halted if Titans are reawoken, traveling the globe (reportedly forcefully) to bring Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah back, only to split her family apart in the process: the trailer saw her and husband Mark (Kyle Chandler) schism and hinted Madison will come to disagree with her too. This may, of course, be tricksy trailer editing, but the implication is that her blind drive will accidentally release a worse threat, leading to the expected smackdown between Ghidorah and the rest. Among this, though, are a lot of secondary threads: Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins are both back as Monarch scientists Ishiro Serizawa and Vivienne Graham respectively; Bradley Whitford joins as an undefined Dr. Stanton; and O'Shea Jackson Jr. fronts a more military side of the story.
While that's a lot of spinning plates, Conrad can easily slot in. We last saw James signing up to a Monarch that had just lost its previous head, and here he's decked out in a shady all-black outfit; it would make sense for him to now be a higher up in the organization, possibly the leader. Thus, his role essentially depends on how Monarch are portrayed - noble scientists or greedy government - although either way, he may not have much of an impact.
Dance joined the cast in May 2017, a month before filming began and two months after the release of Kong: Skull Island. It's possible that the character is a secondary part of the film, with the direct connection between the Monarch head to the previous movie only decided on once Skull Island proved a success (it made $566 million worldwide). Indeed, the post-credits scene that potentially set up Conrad's return was almost cut from Kong, suggesting that Legendary were unsure on how tightly to tie things together. All of this would indicate a smaller role, more franchise-connective tissue than a key part of the movie at hand.
What James Conrad's Return Means For Godzilla vs. Kong
Even if Conrad does play an essential role in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, he's nevertheless going to be most remarkable for the wider universe connection. And that puts all thoughts towards Godzilla vs. Kong. With the movie a little under two years away, little is known about Adam Wingard's, although some early casting is revealing: Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler and Ziyi Zhang are all set to reprise their Godzilla 2 roles (along with MonsterVerse newcomers Julian Dennison and Danai Gurira). That not only suggests that Vera Farmiga won't make it out of King of the Monsters alive, but indicates that the team-up is a direct follow-on to the upcoming Godzilla sequel.
Charles Dance's Conrad would thus serve as a direct link back through the MonsterVerse, a more personal link to Kong than the faceless Monarch. As already alluded to, we don't know much about how they operate - are they the S.H.I.E.L.D. of The Avengers or the S.H.I.E.L.D. of Captain America: The Winter Soldier? - but Dance at least provides a relatable in.
Whether Charles Dance really is James Conrad in Godzilla: King of the Monsters or not will surely be revealed in the coming months, but from everything we know at the moment he's the best candidate for the Kong: Skull Island crossover. After all, there's a delicious irony to Conrad, a character whose first monster encounter was Kong, to declare "Long live the King" regarding Godzilla: it almost begs a fight for the crown.
- Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) release date: May 31, 2019