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‘Kong: Skull Island’: Why Legendary Trusted Indie Filmmaker Jordan Vogt-Roberts to Expand Their MonsterVerse

In building their own cinematic universe, Legendary has bet big on indie filmmakers — but is that coming to an end?

“Kong: Skull Island”

“I feel like Gareth directed the hell out of ‘Godzilla,’ and did such a good job with that game and with that tease,” Vogt-Roberts said. “I just was sort of uninterested in playing that game.”

Edwards’ film ends with Godzilla somewhat strangely hailed as a hero, after he effectively battles back a pair of M.U.T.O. and saves a ravaged San Francisco. There’s shades of that in “Skull Island,” the most direct stylistic corollary between the first two films of this new universe.

“I did certainly want to present him as this sort of capital-M Movie Monster, smashing shit, killing people, berserk rage, and then present him more as this sort of god that you slowly humanize,” Vogt-Roberts said.

By the end of “Skull Island,” Kong has been almost fully humanized – he’s had his ass kicked and the majority of the film’s human characters have come to understand his important, if fragile, place in a very weird ecosystem.

“I kind of keep joking that I feel like Kong is in a Shane Black movie,” he said. “By the end he’s just like bruised and burned and tattered and cut. I just loved the idea of really putting him through the wringer.”

Looking to the Future

Mangled as he may be, it’s obvious that “Skull Island” is not the last we’ll see of Kong, and the movie closes out with Vera Lynn’s  wholly anachronistic “We’ll Meet Again” playing over the final scenes. Immediately following those unique touches is just about when the film shifts into full-on MonsterVerse mode. (Some spoilers ahead for “Kong: Skull Island.”)

“Kong: Skull Island”

In addition to previous introductions to an assortment of new, terrifying monsters throughout the film – a massive spider, a tree that’s actually alive, a huge hippo-thing — the post-credits scene features cameos from Toho monsters Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. It’s set in a Project Monarch bunker, and they’re the ones introducing the creatures to both “Skull Island” characters and the film’s audience. It’s the first time the film really feels beholden to its franchise, an ending that’s not so much about the action that’s just played out, but the action that is coming up next.

That’s fine with Vogt-Roberts. “I give them a lot of credit for really kind of like letting me tell the best version of this story, so that you give a shit when these creatures eventually do intersect,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Review: It’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ With Monsters, Or At Least That’s Part of the Idea

“Kong: Skull Island” will be followed by “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” in 2019. It’s directed by Michael Dougherty, who directed festival favorite “Trick ‘r Treat” and “Krampus” and was a co-writer on “X2” and “Superman Returns.” Legendary and Warner Bros. have already reserved May 29, 2020 for “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which doesn’t yet have an attached director or screenwriter, but seems like it could write itself based on its title alone. It might not, though.

It’s long been rumored that Alex Garcia, who executive produced both “Godzilla” and “Skull Island,” is hoping to create a writers’ room dedicated to building out the MonsterVerse. After years of kinda-sorta autonomy, Legendary’s marquee franchise would tighten the reins — and that would likely be the end of the freedom that Vogt-Roberts had to craft his story.

Vogt-Roberts is unsure of his place in the blossoming franchise. He’s not opposed to coming back for more madness — though it would be have to be his brand of madness.

“I keep joking that I would gladly make a prequel that’s, like, John C. Reilly as Marlow on the island fighting monsters and what his relationship with the Japanese soldier is, and the relationship with the villagers,” he said. “That’s the movie that’s actually most outwardly interesting to me, but yeah, I don’t really know what happens from here.”

“Kong: Skull Island” opens nationwide on Friday, March 10.

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