In an industry increasingly fueled by franchises, it came as little surprise when Legendary Entertainment used their splashy Comic-Con 2014 appearance to confirm their intentions to develop their so-called “MonsterVerse.” Hot on the heels of the release of Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla,” Legendary announced they had picked up the rights to other classic Toho beasts Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, teasing the audience with a title card that read “Conflict: inevitable. Let them fight.”
But before those inevitable battles can hit the big screen, there was a necessary amount of groundwork to lay. Enter Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ “Kong: Skull Island,” this weekend’s big release and the second entry in the burgeoning MonsterVerse. While Vogt-Roberts’ Vietnam War era-set adventure drama works well enough on its own, the film also introduces a slew of new monsters that make it clear that there are all kinds of M.U.T.O. (MonsterVerse for “Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism”) just itching to break free from their apparently underground lair.
By the film’s final moments — and a Vogt-Roberts-directed post-credits scene — audiences get a much bigger look at who they may be.
(Spoilers ahead for “Kong: Skull Island.”)
Over the course of the film, “Kong: Skull Island” makes Kong’s place in the M.U.T.O. universe plain: he’s the main protector of the world we know, tasked with keeping other baddies at bay, monsters who apparently use the wacky Skull Island as their entry point, emerging from underground caves and crevices to let it rip (John C. Reilly deems the monsters “Skullcrawlers,” which definitely works). Kong is the last of his family — all of whom also served as Skull Island protectors — and he takes his job seriously. It’s why he’s still alive, and it’s why the primitive people who live on the island are so indebted to him.
Basically, to get to the larger world, you have to go through Kong. And he’s not interested in letting that happen.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Enterta
Still, Kong is understandably beat the hell up after “Skull Island,” thanks to a series of battles with both humans (spearheaded by Samuel L. Jackson) and a massive, terrifying grown-up Skullcrawler (one of Kong’s big methods of defense is killing off the younger, weaker Skullcrawlers the moment they emerge). It’s going to be hard for him to get back to full strength, but we’re going need him to.
In the film’s post-credits scene, Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston’s characters find themselves in a seemingly locked-tight interrogation room. They — and most of the audience, presumably — think they’re being held by the government, but they’re actually at a Monarch Project lab. Monarch, which was introduced in “Godzilla,” plays a big part in “Skull Island” — the expedition that brings everyone to Skull Island was requested by John Goodman’s Bill Randa, who doesn’t make it out alive — and it seems as if that will only continue as the MonsterVerse unfolds.
Larson’s Weaver and Hiddleston’s Conrad are soon told by a pair of Monarch reps (played by Corey Hawkins and Jing Tian, Monarch’s only “Skull Island” survivors) that, oops no, this is not the government, it’s Monarch, and they are now a part of it. Well, a part of what?
A world way beyond Kong. The pair are then shown a series of archival footage — mostly of cave paintings, naturally, these are underground beasties — that depict Godzilla, along with those Toho classics Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah. Those rights were good for something! In one last tantalizing tease, we see a glimpse of Godzilla battling King Ghidorah, followed by a classic Godzilla roar.
“Kong: Skull Island” will be followed by “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” in 2019, directed by Michael Dougherty (best known for festival favorite “Trick ‘r Treat” and “Krampus,” he also co-wrote “X2” and “Superman Returns”). Following that, Legendary and Warner Bros. have already reserved May 29, 2020 for “Godzilla vs. Kong,” which doesn’t yet have an attached director or screenwriter. (Per THR, Legendary is putting together a writers’ room for the project, including Terry Rossio, Patrick McKay and J.D. Payne, Lindsey Beer, Cat Vasko, T.S. Nowlin and J. Michael Straczynski).
While we don’t yet know the plot of “King of the Monsters,” this post-credits scene makes it seem likely that Godzilla will next battle King Ghidorah, a three-headed flying dragon created by Tomoyuki Tanaka, who also created Godzilla. He has appeared in a number of Toho features, and while his origins have changed over time (some films imagine him as an alien beast, some as a mythological Chinese protector, while others go the genetically engineered route), he’s long been a Godzilla foe. In Kazuki Ōmori’s 1991 “Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah,” he battles Godzilla (obviously) and loses. Bringing back King Ghidorah to battle Godzilla is kind of a no-brainer, and that post-credits scene certainly seems to be leaning into it.
Rodan is a classic “pteranodon” — think ancient, flying reptile — who was first introduced by Toho in 1956, in his standalone film “Rodan.” Rodan later went up against Godzilla (most notably in “Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II”) and, you guessed it, didn’t make it out alive. Sensing a pattern?
Of the newly re-introduced trio, Mothra is likely the most well-known (she’s second only to Godzilla in her total number of film appearances), a giant moth that first starred in Toho’s 1961 “Mothra.” And, yes, she’s battled Godzilla too — thanks to 1992’s “Godzilla vs. Mothra,” where she and Battra (just guess) face off with Godzilla. Mothra (who is often portrayed as an Earth protector, like our new Kong) doesn’t die, and she does serious damage to Godzilla. Could she prove to be friend or foe to Godzilla, who saved San Francisco at the end of “Godzilla,” or Kong, who is designed to keep other baddies at bay? Team up!
Looking ahead, it’s safe to assume that Godzilla lives through his sequel, all the better to battle Kong in “Godzilla vs. Kong.” How these two will meet up is a major question — “Godzilla” is set in the present day, “Skull Island” back in 1973 — but that’s a real no-bones-about-it title. Will they battle, make up and join forces to fight other monsters? We don’t know just yet, but one thing is clear…
It’s inevitable. Let them fight.
“Kong: Skull Island” is in theaters now.