If you count yourself among the Baby Boomer or Generation X crowd and you carry a penchant for B movies, you no doubt grew up on Godzilla, Kong, and the rest of Toho Studios pantheon of monsters. No other entertainment property was as fun for a child on Saturday morning than to watch our favorite Kaiju obliterate the poor, helpless city of Japan year after year.
But many often forget that King Kong came first. The 1933 original by Radio Pictures, a US production, starring Bruce Cabot and Fay Wray, pre-dated the Raymond Burr inspired classic of Godzilla by over two decades and for you ‘team Kong’ fans, the original King Kong was ranked as the fourth greatest horror movie of all time by Rotten Tomatoes. Not bad for what was really a romantic adventure film.
However, Toho took the success of the original 1954 Godzilla and ran with it, producing 32 movies over the next 64 years with the final four being during the Reiwa era of Japan that began in 2016.
In the early years of the original monsterverse, Godzilla and Kong clashed for the first and only time. The year was 1963 and to this day, that titanic clash remains the most attended Godzilla film in Japanese history. Due to the rousing success, Toho Studios and US-based production company Rankin/Bass, followed up with King Kong Escapes in 1967 where audiences saw the genesis of the Mechani-Kong that Kong fought and defeated. Interestingly, the giant Octopus scene in King Kong Escapes was later referenced 39 years later by filmmakers of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest for inspiration of the movement of the Kraken. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…well, there you go. You may never watch this scene the same again.
Toho Studios celebrated 60 years in 1992 and to honor this legacy, they wanted to put a rematch between Godzilla and Kong on the big screen for a second time but didn’t own the rights to Kong so instead, they developed the idea of using a newer version of Mechani-Kong. Again, fearing they couldn’t even get image rights for the giant Gorilla, opted instead to use the idea of Mechani-Kong to inspire the creation of Mechagodzilla (or Super-Mechagodzilla as it were) which resulted in the 1993 monster romp, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II.
In the original King Kong vs. Godzilla the two giants clash early with Kong losing. In the subsequent battle later in the movie, having his power increased due to lightning, Kong got the upper hand on his reptilian opponent. In the final clash, both fall off a cliff and fight underwater with only Kong emerging as he is seen swimming back home to Faro island…Godzilla is nowhere to be seen. Fans debated for years who really won the fight, but in the decades to follow, even Toho Studios admitted that Kong won. It’s important to understand that at the time, Kong was considered much like an anti-hero of sorts as he had a special relationship to human beings and in a way, was relatable to audiences. By contrast, Godzilla was still viewed as a villain in Japan and was not looked upon as a helper to mankind until later movies. But will the same hold true today?
Let’s examine the possibility a bit more. The Godzilla vs. Kong trailer footage of the upcoming show what is likely an early battle aboard an aircraft carrier. Later shots show Kong in a weakened state aboard something akin to a large cargo ship, likely losing the initial fight. We then see a secondary encounter where Kong appears to be getting the upper hand with the help of a ‘battle axe’ that also seems to have properties which can counter Godzilla’s atomic breath. This generally synopsis would lay out in a similar fashion to the original with Kong losing the original encounter but ultimately coming out victorious in the final confrontation.
Additionally, the movie poster for Godzilla vs. Kong states, ‘One Will Fall.’ This could be simple misdirection and marketing hype, but it is plausible if, for example, Godzilla leaves a legacy behind. There has been rumored speculation that contract stipulations from Toho prohibits Godzilla from dying unless he has a child to carry on his legacy in the movies. Interestingly, a post-credit scene from Godzilla: King of the Monsters show us a newspaper clipping of a giant egg found by Monarch.
Reading the caption, the evidence is pointing to something else.
There is also strong precedent for a Godzilla offspring in movie canon as well. The first sighting of a baby Godzilla was in the 1967 Son of Godzilla where his son, named Minilla, hatched form an egg. Even more ironic, another iteration of Godzilla’s son hatched from an egg in the previously mentioned Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II in 1993. This offspring was a bit more akin to his current father’s physical features than the original, but both these movies clearly establish the possibility that we may yet see a baby Godzilla in the coming clobberfest thereby allowing King Kong to be victorious in the final battle.
Further, a quick perusal of the toy site BigBadToyStore shows two final toy releases with no picture and are cited as ‘Godzilla Little’ and ‘Godzilla Minira.’ Minira is the Japanese name for the original junior Kaiju from the 1967 film. These facts are too specific to be coincidence.
Another theory holds that Godzilla will die in the combined assault of King Kong and Mechagodzilla who is also set to make it’s first modern-day appearance in a Godzilla epic. This monster saga comes full circle with their historical predecessors with the addition of Mechagodzilla. The outcome is sure to have significant implications going forward.
The original Kong vs. Godzilla classic, too far removed from both our minds and viewing pleasure, has produced multiple references in pop culture to include the music industry, advertising, board games and was even once spoofed by The Simpsons. Will the reboot of this titanic struggle produce the same legacy as the predecessor? Watch Godzilla Vs Kong in theaters or on HBO Max on March 31 and find out.
Godzilla Vs Kong follows three other popular movies by Legendary Entertainment that include 2014’s Godzilla, 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters that debuted in 2019. Godzilla Vs King Kong is directed by Adam Wingard and stars Alexander Skarsgard, Rebecca Hall, Kyle Chandler and Millie Bobbie Brown.
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