The world will shake later this month as Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong has the two biggest (and oldest) titans in movie history going light-to-light. Like other “versus” films of similar calibre, this one has not just one but two epic cinematic events. Despite the fact that these specific iterations of both characters are very recent, they both have decades (in Kong’s case, almost a century) of iconography that can be scary to viewers who are unfamiliar with them but don’t want to feel lost as they fight each other.
Both good and terrible news are available. The good news is that King Kong’s narrative is quite straightforward and won’t take too long to finish. And Godzilla is the bad news. Over the past fifty years, he has not only acted in a large number of films with numerous plot reboots, but he is also the actor most likely to cause trouble in your community and drive up your insurance costs. He truly is awful news in a body.
We’ll get to all that, though. Start off easy with Kong.
The Eighth Wonder of the World
On a lonely island fashioned like a skull and home to numerous other horrifying beasts, a big ape named King Kong lives. A struggling filmmaker who sails a boat to a secret island home to incredible undiscovered wild beasts in order to shoot the movie that will launch his career is the subject of the legendary Kong tale that first appeared in 1933’s King Kong and has since been recounted numerous times. He assembles a crew and a desperate actress under the guise of outright dishonesty, transports them all to this horrific location, where the most of them perish.
Native people on the island worship Kong and offer women as sacrifices to him. The crew says “screw it,” despite their desire to sacrifice the actress. These people kidnap her and still give her to Kong. The formidable Kong shows up and takes the actress. The crew decides to go and rescue her after saying, “Screw that.” Some of them succeed despite being inadequately unprepared to navigate Skull Island’s perils. Kong is then given narcotics by the director and sent back to New York to perform as a sideshow. After saying “screw this,” he awakens, snatches the girl once more, climbs to the top of the Empire State Building, and is shot to death.
Kong is unique for many reasons. They learned to make him a figure of sadness rather than utter dread even back in 1933, which, as you can probably already tell from this synopsis, was a far from woke era. Yes, Kong is frightening. He falls in love with the actress, though, and instead of killing her, he works to keep her safe from Skull Island’s perils. Kong didn’t march into New York City with the intention of causing havoc. He was used as a slave by a jerk. The fact that Kong is the most feared individual on an island that is replete with creatures that would normally star in their own horror movies is another way that Kong justifies the moniker “King.” Kong thereby gains the audience’s respect for being a top-tier badass in addition to emotional resonance. We sympathise with Kong and consider his untimely demise terrible.
The filmic adventure of Kong is brief. In essence, the main tale has been recounted three times—two of which had absurd sequels, two Japanese attempts by Toho, and the most recent Legendary movie. The must-watch list practically writes itself if you want to prepare for Godzilla vs. Kong.
King Kong (1933)
The original King Kong is a pure masterpiece in every regard, save for political correctness, which, ouch. I think even folks who claim to be impatient with older movies would still love it.
The characters’ travel time to Skull Island is the single modern Kong flaw (but it’s nothing compared to the Peter Jackson adaptation). But once Kong appears, this movie takes off like a rocket and never lets up. It’s a vicious and violent movie. The other beasts on Skull Island are just as serious as Kong when it comes to their behaviour. Despite being from a different era, the ground-breaking stop-motion special effects seem to only get stronger with time. Every movie enthusiast should watch Kong move since it is captivating and hypnotic.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
There is also this. When it comes to Toho, Kong is just a man in a suit; none of his old majesty is present. He resembles a raggedy monkey human instead. The movie is still a lot of kitschy fun, and if you’re going to watch the updated version, you might as well see how far technology has advanced. Up until Kong is struck by lightning, which astonishingly gives him greater power, Godzilla is definitely winning the battle. It’s not like I’m saying this movie is bad because we get to witness him hang Godzilla by his tail and ram a tree into Godzilla’s jaws. If this rendition of Kong appeals to you, you can also watch King Kong Escapes, which features a Metal Kong.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
The adventure-horror-comedy-war film directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts introduces Kong into the Famous Universe while also paying tribute to the legendary Kong. Kong: Skull Island forgoes the typical Kong story beats of capture and tragedy in favour of developing a character with more ferocity and longevity, even though the movie retains some elements of Kong’s mythology (he’s still a survivor in a hostile environment with a weakness for pretty blonde ladies). Kong is here unconquerable by the soldiers that are battling him. They’ll consider themselves lucky just to survive (the majority don’t). And this Kong is only a young adult. Between the time of the Vietnam War and the present, he still has a lot of growing to do.
The King of the Monsters
Now let’s talk about Godzilla, who has starred in around thirty feature films and one animated short in which he tramples Bambi.
While Godzilla gives a response to the horrifying bombing of Japan at the end of World War II, Kong presents a tale of American colonisation from the 1930s. In the original 1954 masterpiece, his panic is not a crude jest. Godzilla simply annihilates everything in his way, and the movie producers take care to keep us conscious of the human cost of such a force. Godzilla’s original portrayal is more comparable to a force of nature, as cold-blooded and inexorable as a natural disaster, however this idea would not endure. Just that this one was brought about by human interference with destructive science.
It’s not simple to compete with the Godzilla franchise. Four separate eras are distinguished in the films. Showa rule lasts until 1975. Despite Godzilla’s horrific beginnings, the most frequently mentioned stupid, B-movie Godzilla movies can be found here. Godzilla quickly transforms from an evil force on our planet to its protector. Godzilla has a child, dances, and even communicates with other Kaiju using word bubbles from comic books.
The Heisei era then follows, beginning in 1984 with The Return of Godzilla. These seven movies flow much more seamlessly together, which may appeal to today’s moviegoers. Additionally, they are considerably weighed down by technobabble and ’90s craziness.
Godzilla 2000 marks the start of the Millennium Era, which lasts until 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars. Each of these movies essentially offers its own perspective on a sequel to the 1954 original, making them more stand-alone than sequels. They have different quality levels as a result.
The Reiwa era, which began with Shin Godzilla in 2016 and also has three animated movies, is currently in effect. It is too early to identify the era’s cliches because there has only been one live-action movie so far. However, it should be noted that Shin Godzilla might be the finest film overall for a novice to watch. It achieves the extraordinary task of making Godzilla unfathomable and terrifying once more, and it has amazing contemporary effects. Of the other hand, it’s also less of a normal monster movie and more of a satire on bureaucracy in times of crisis.
With this many films, not to mention this many takes on what aGodzillamoviecould be, it’s easy to see the difficulty in pinpointing Godzilla’s story. He is the least consistent and has the longest run of any movie character. From one film to the next, he could be a hero, a villain, or something in-between. The good part of that is you don’t have to worry about story much. Outside of the Heisei era, eachGodzillafilm functions almost like a restart, and you can jump in anywhere you want. Having said that, some films offer better starting points than others.
Before getting into all the goofiness theGodzillaseries contains, it’s best to pay some respect to the masterpiece that started it all. It is remarkable how much changes tonally between this film and its actual sequel,Godzilla Raids Again. The originalGodzillais a horror film, through and through. And no matter how many decades go by, watching Godzilla destroy Tokyo for the first time retains its power.
Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
On the ridiculous side of things, no Showa film offers a better representation thanInvasion of Astro-Monster. The story is wild, the humans are great, and you get to see Godzilla and Rodan beat up on (and get beaten up by) King Ghidorah. A lot of people talk upDestroy All Monstersbecause it has so many different monsters in it, but this is the goofy Showa film to beat.
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)
Jumping ahead a whopping thirty years, this final film from the Heisei era offers a fitting conclusion to Godzilla’s story. While it’s true a bunch of the story rides on the films that came before, this stuff is not Shakespeare. You’ll figure it out.
The story focuses on a Godzilla whose heart is about to have a nuclear meltdown that threatens to blow up the planet. Meanwhile, he has to battle a demonic monster made from the same weapon that killed the 1954 Godzilla (uh, well, in mostGodzillamovies, Godzilla is actually the second Godzilla). While the Showa era has the most fun films, and the Millennium era offers the best representation of scale, the Heisei era features the best-looking Godzilla films and fights. There’s no better example of that thanDestoroyah.
Shin Godzilla (2016)
As mentioned above,Shin Godzillaoperates a bit differently than normalGodzillasequels. There are no monster fights, Godzilla keeps changing forms, it’s filled with tons and tons of talking, and Godzilla spends most of the second half in a coma. Nevertheless, this film tries to wrestle with the real-world implications of a giant monster in a way that heightens the film to a whole new level. It’s the rareGodzillafilm you can show to people who are not inclined to enjoy a giant monster movie. And then on top of all that, it features a Godzilla that puts all other versions of the character to shame in terms of destruction and unknowable power.