(L-r) GODZILLA and KONG in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GOZILLA VS. KONG,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures release.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures
Warner Brothers’ Godzilla vs. Kong is nearly here. Those who love huge, epic, effects-laden summer blockbusters have been eagerly awaiting this monster throwdown for longer than we anticipated due to the pandemic, but movie goers were ecstatic at the announcement of a release date. That, plus the release of a mind-blowing trailer, has fans chomping at the bit to witness this ultimate battle royale and dividing into Team Godzilla and Team Kong.
As to who will be the victor of this literal monster throwdown is anyone’s guess. When Fandango visited the set during production in Australia, no one was telling. But we did learn some other cool details when we chatted with key creatives, including producer Alex Garcia and a few of the stars, including Mille Bobby Brown (Godzilla: King of the Monsters) and Bryan Tyree Henry. More recently, we sat down with director Adam Wingard who talked about the excitement of helming the film and the future of the franchise.
Here‘s what we learned from our time on set!
1) In Godzilla vs. Kong, it’s a Titan’s world and we humans are just living in it and trying not to get stepped on.
Producer Garcia explains: “We are coming into the world where the genie is out of the bottle with the creatures. Mankind is aware that this is a new reality. They’re not being hidden anymore, everybody knows. And there is an uneasy existence. Godzilla establishes the balance so we’re back into that place of balance, but there are creatures that are on the surface. They aren’t roaming around destroying things, but they do exist. There are systems and warnings and stuff in place, but life goes on as it does. But it’s a new reality we are contending with.”
But maintaining a balance doesn’t mean it is any easier on the humans. Production designer Tom Hammock explained, “The world’s not post-apocalyptic, but Godzilla has been on more rampages than he had been in the past. So, he's interacting a lot more with humans. He's been in cities; he's been trampling things. And the film is coming together on a mission to do something about that.”
2) Godzilla and King Kong are not the only Titans with skin in the game. Two groups, Monarch and Apex, have entered the ring, each with their own agenda that may or may not have what is best for humanity as their ultimate goal.
Garcia describes the two technological heavies in the plot. “Monarch, in reacting to this global fear of the creatures, has spent a lot of time and a lot of money creating entrances into the Hollow Earth — these areas where it can be an easier entry into that eco-system. At the start of the movie, we see that first mission into the Hollow Earth, and the mission is — they’re gonna take this device into the center of the Earth which will draw all the creatures slowly back to the center of the world through various openings and they’ll seal it. The hope is that will bring back a balance and that the fear, the perceived threat, will be stemmed."
“Apex is essentially a megalithic technological conglomerate — think like the extreme version of an Amazon or an Apple — and Madison (Brown), Bernie Hayes (Henry) and Josh (Julian Dennison) are trying to infiltrate this organization and figure out what it is that they are doing, because Madison believes that is actually the thing causing Godzilla to act irrationally. Apex, who have largely — and there’s line in the movie where Simmons (Demian Bichir), CEO of Apex, says he made his fortune ‘rebuilding a world torn limb-by-limb by monsters.’ But the trio believes there’s something else going on.”
3) Although Godzilla is maintaining balance, his role as good guy is apparently not all that clear. Both he and Kong have something to protect.
Garcia shares the opinion that neither Kong and Godzilla is a bad guy. “They’re both characters who are fighting for something that is distinct to them, and those things happen to sometimes be what’s good for us, but they don’t always align. Neither is inherently evil, but they also aren’t inherently good, right?”
He continues, “This is the first time Kong leaves Skull Island — in our mythology — and there’s a lot that comes with that. He’s now just coming to terms with this new reality and what does that mean. Similarly, Godzilla is frantically trying to defend his own power structure, and not necessarily because he’s a tyrant or something, but he is trying to maintain a bigger balance that he feels is under threat, and he sees Kong as potentially one of those threats.”
4) As is clearly evident in the trailer, King Kong is now, well, king-sized compared to when we last saw him on Skull island, and that is because he’s the grown-up version.
According to producer Alex Garcia, “There’s a line in Skull Island that Kong is still growing, so he’s an adolescent in that film.”
Production designer Owen Patterson expanded on the reasoning behind Kong’s overall appearance. “It’s 45 years later since the first Kong Skull Island story. So, we figured Kong could be 50, 60 feet taller. And he could also be really scratched and gnarled up like he’d been attacked by the skull crawlers over the years. We can imagine that things are happening on Skull Island because it seemed to be a fairly primeval place. So, he’s been dealing with all of that for 40 years.”
5) For Wingard, it was important that this feel like a legitimate matchup between the Legendary Godzilla and Skull Island Kong, even though Kong is aged and more grizzled. Too much change in the character was something that bothered him about King Kong vs. Godzilla and, curiously, about another film featuring a famous epic battle, Batman vs Superman.
“Part of the problem with King Kong vs. Godzilla, the original movie, is that Godzilla looks basically like he did in the earlier films, but it was the first Toho version of King Kong. He looks a little weird if I have to be honest, and he's not stop motion either, you know? So, he feels like a totally new character, you don't feel like this is really King Kong versus Godzilla. And I look at, for instance Batman v Superman, to use it as an example, and this is just my opinion, but my issue with that movie is that it's a new Batman. It's Ben Affleck as Batman, and up until then Christian Bale was the definitive Batman, and it felt like, ‘Okay, now that we're doing Batman v Superman, and we're also restarting Batman. So, it doesn't feel like this is the ultimate match up of these characters.
“So, it was one of my absolute sticking points, even though I probably would have liked to, for instance, made Godzilla's head a little bit bigger, his head's a little small, you know? That complaint is not lost on me. But at the end of the day, it's like, ‘This is the Godzilla that we have here, this is the Legendary Godzilla, and let's see how he matches up with King Kong. Let's not try to change it up and do something different.’"
6) Looks like we will get a VIP tour of Hollow Earth.
According to Garcia, “Hollow Earth is a big environment and that’s a very rich, varied ecosystem. There’s a line in the script that Skull Island is like Hollow Earth come to the surface. So, think of Skull Island and the different terrains and variations, and Hollow Earth is ten times that.”
Production designer Own Paterson elaborated, “]The Hollow Earth] is a whole world they’re creating, and I could imagine that we will see other life forms come from there all the way through those various stories, as they develop over the years, you know, in this sort of Titan universe, if you like."
7) New Titans will be making their debut in this film.
“There are a lot of creatures in the film. There are other creatures, and you kind of have to see King of the Monsters to see where they end up, but there a lot of other monsters in the movie,” Garcia promises. “There are some new creatures in the movie.”
8) Ghidorah is back…sorta.
SHUN OGURI on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GOZILLA VS. KONG,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures release.
Photo by Vince Valitutti
One of the cooler moments during the set visit was walking onto a soundstage to find skull the size of a building. The shape of it is dragon-like and is later referred to as a Ghidorah skull by Paterson. But the significance of the skull is one of the few remaining secrets of the film, and no one is anxious to provide details. Wingard in particular would like the audience to experience some surprise going in.
“Yeah, I mean, I think in a subtle way, Ghidorah kind of haunts this movie. That's the most recent event, because this film takes place a relatively short period afterwards. But specifics is just one of those things I can't really talk about too much because, as much as possible, I want people to have as pure of an experience as they can, and If you're reading about it, it's just going to be less exciting than actually seeing it.”
9) Brown’s Madison continues to follow in her parents’ footsteps in her quest to find out more about the Titans and tries to save the world, all while going through growing pains.
(L-r) Director ADAM WINGARD, JULIAN DENNISON and MILLIE BOBBY BROWN on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GOZILLA VS. KONG,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures release.
Photo by Chuck Zlotnick
“It's definitely a coming-of-age story for Madison,” said Brown. “Her storyline has definitely evolved greatly in the way she deals with things, her attitude towards life. Really trying to follow in her mother's footsteps as well as becoming more strong, more independent, and understanding what she needs to do. Five years have gone by and she's basically a badass. She's kind of a rebel and she’s just trying to become a young woman, and that can be really hard. But she, with the help of her little trio — she's really growing as a person.” She adds, on a more personal note, “I think everyone is, even Brian and, and we're all growing. And me, Millie grows as a person during this movie. And I feel like I've grown up a lot. And, I learned a lot from these beautiful people.”
10) Henry is excited for a chance to show audiences a different facet of his acting skills with his portrayal of Bernie Hayes.
“Bernie Hayes, who used to be an employee of Apex Industries. He lost his wife along the way and kind of turned in on himself. A conspiracy theorist, he runs his own podcast that exposes what’s going on in this random world of technology we have found ourselves in and the corruption of it all. He ends up being befriended by these two kids, Madison and Josh, to embark on this journey with them to expose this industry that is bringing about the destruction with Godzilla, and all the things going on with Godzilla and Kong.”
Henry is enjoy playing Bernie. “He’s been added to the belt of characters I can’t really seem to shake, because I really do care about these men that I portray and where they come from. I think that this is a lighter side of me that people are going to see — a completely different side of me that people are going to see.”
11) No matter who comes out on top, it is likely that this will wrap up Godzilla and Kong films for the foreseeable future.
“I'd love it to be the birth of something new,” said Wingard. “But I guess it just depends on just how the movie's received and all those kinds of things that are out of my hands. I know where we could go potentially with future films, but to a certain degree, the Monsterverse was created with the idea in mind that these films were leading towards Godzilla vs Kong, and so I'm kind of lucky in the sense that I was able to step in and be the guy to get the chance to do the ultimate version of these movies.”
12) Asked which team they were on, Team Godzilla or Team Kong, most of the cast and crew we spoke to wouldn’t say, but a few let us know with no problem.
Director ADAM WINGARD on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GOZILLA VS. KONG,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures release.
Photo by Vince Valitutti
Henry is one hundred percent Team Godzilla. “I used to draw Godzilla all the time and I’m a huge manga fan. I am happy to be on Team Godzilla. It’s a dream come true.” He also has a six-year-old, at the time, great-nephew who, when told Henry was in the movie, laid out in detail what needs to happen while holding on to his plastic Godzilla toy. “So, we have to get it right. Or else he will literally disown me.”
Brown is absolutely Team Godzilla and when Dennison hesitated to voice his preference, Brown jokingly threatened to “flip” if he said Team Kong so he quickly, “I like Godzilla. He’s really cool.”
Wingard never really let on who he preferred. “I will say that I definitely knew who I wanted to win right off the bat. I remember in second grade there was a friend of mine who had a definitive idea of who he thought would win in a fight, Godzilla or King Kong, and I remember being on the playground and arguing with him about it, and I felt like he was totally wrong, by the way. So in a weird roundabout way, this movie is like the most like ridiculous way of winning a fight with a friend of yours in second grade. But now I finally have the last word. And he can't argue, okay.”
Godzilla vs. Kong opens March 31st. Watch the trailer below.