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In 2014, over a decade and a half after his first completely Hollywood-produced appearance failed to impress, Godzilla returned for a second go at American cinematic glory. Fortunately, not only did the Godzilla reboot earn much better critical reception than its 1998 predecessor, it also launched the MonsterVerse franchise, which is about to deliver its fourth entry, Godzilla vs. Kong. However, having Godzilla collide with King Kong wasn’t a plan in motion from Day One.
During my recent interview with Godzilla vs. Kong co-writer Max Borenstein, I asked if he and the others who crafted the MonsterVerse were always determined to bring King Kong in, or if that was a development that happened later on. Recalling the days of working on 2014’s Godzilla, Borenstein answered:
Well, early on, during production of the first Godzilla, maybe when we were in postproduction, is when I first spoke to the head of Legendary at the time, Thomas Tull, and producer Mary Parent and Alex Garcia, who’s the executive who’s been in charge of the franchise since then, about this idea of doing a Kong film, and Thomas’ vision, because he’s a huge fan of big monsters and Godzilla and Kong, was to eventually build toward Godzilla vs. Kong. [Those were the] sort of adventures he had in mind to bring about, but it was sort of one step at a time. I only became aware of that once we were like, ‘Ok, Godzilla turned out pretty well, so let’s aim for a Kong movie, and here’s why we want to bring them together.’
You have to remember that when 2014’s Godzilla hit the scene, other than the MCU, shared cinematic universes hadn’t quite hit the level of popularity in Hollywood they enjoy nowadays. So even though Godzilla has battled all sorts of monsters over the decades under the Toho banner in Japan, it’s understandable that the focus was on simply providing an enjoyable Godzilla story in the early creative stages. But as Godzilla reached the end of production/went into post-production, it was decided that it’d be worth bringing King Kong into the mix, and from there, it was only logical that there come a day when the massive gorilla and gargantuan reptile duke it out, just like they did in Japanese cinema in 1962.
And thus, Kong: Skull Island followed Godzilla three years later, i.e. 2017, 12 years after Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake. Rather than being set in contemporary times, the action took place in 1973 and primarily on Skull Island, rather than Kong being dragged back to the United States halfway through the story like in the original King Kong movie and remake. Then Godzilla: King of the Monsters followed in 2019 and brought Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah into play, and now Godzilla vs. Kong is almost upon us!
While the MonsterVerse could have taken a Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice-like approach and immediately pitted these two against each other after Godzilla, the creative minds behind the franchise decided to build up to that epic conflict, and now we’re just hours away from learning who will emerge victorious. Following that, it’s unclear what’s being planned for the MonsterVerse, although this latest movie does plant some proverbial seeds involving the franchise’s deeper mythology that can surely bloom in the coming years.