In 2020, the Earth will shake as two of cinema’s most celebrated monsters clash on the big screen once again. That’s right — Godzilla vs. Kong is coming. Though they’ve fought each other before in films released long ago, the King of the Monsters and Skull Island’s Eighth Wonder of the World will meet again, this time under the banner of Legendary Pictures’ ever-growing MonsterVerse, with the help of a blockbuster-sized budget and a massive team of talent.
The fourth film in Legendary’s MonsterVerse series — following Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters — Godzilla vs. Kong will feature not just the two headliners gearing up for a fight, but an all-star cast that includes both returning stars and newcomers, all under the direction of an acclaimed horror filmmaker. Here’s everything we know about the showdown so far, from who’s in it to how this monstrous struggle could end.
What’s the release date for Godzilla vs. Kong?
One of the exciting things about the world of tentpole blockbusters is watching studios slot ambitious, highly anticipated juggernauts years in advance, giving us plenty of time to savor the wait for their arrival. One of the downsides of this years-in-advance release date reveal strategy is that, when the realities of production and the theatrical marketplace set in, sometimes those release dates start to shuffle around.
That’s been the case with Godzilla vs. Kong over the last three years. The film was originally set to open May 29, 2020, almost a year to the day after Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Then the studio pushed things up a week to May 22, ostensibly so the flick could take advantage of Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, that release date then put the film up against heavy hitters like the ninth Fast & Furious movie, so Warner Bros. pushed things up yet again to the current release date of March 13, 2020. Despite some chatter from Warner Bros. head Toby Emmerich suggesting that release date is also flexible as the studio continues to figure certain things out, March 13, 2020, remains the projected release date.
Who’s returning to the cast of Godzilla vs. Kong?
Godzilla vs. Kong will pick up after the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which set the stage for a new status quo with Godzilla as the recognized Alpha among the resurrected Titans. With that in mind, we can expect a lot of familiar faces from that film to show up during the showdown with Kong.
So far, the confirmed returning cast for the film includes King of the Monsters stars Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell and Kyle Chandler as her father, Mark Russell. The Russell family played a key role in the rise of Godzilla as an Alpha after his battle with King Ghidorah, and the loss of Madison’s mother Emma (Vera Farmiga) in the struggle only brought father and daughter closer together amid the wreckage of the Titan battle.
Also returning for Godzilla vs. Kong is Zhang Ziyi, who played dual roles in King of the Monsters as twin Monarch scientists Dr. Ling Chen and Dr. Ilene Chen. King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty set the Chen sisters up in that film to be a new version of the Shobijin, Mothra’s twin priestesses, giving them a deeper connection to the Titans in general — and Mothra in particular — than perhaps any other human characters.
New faces joining the Godzilla vs. Kong cast
The world of the Legendary Pictures MonsterVerse is a constantly expanding one, and that means Godzilla vs. Kong will have plenty of new faces to go along with its established stars. In October of 2018, perhaps the biggest name amid the cast newcomers was revealed when it was reported that Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, Big Little Lies) had joined the cast as the “leader of a military unit.” A few months earlier, another major star’s name was attached to the film when it was reported that Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead, Black Panther) was also in talks to join the cast in an undisclosed role.
The recognizable names don’t end there, though. Among the other new stars coming to Godzilla vs. Kong are Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist), Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2), Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver), and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3). Expect the cast to continue expanding as Godzilla vs. Kong’s release date stomps nearer.
The MonsterVerse story so far
The story that will lead us to the titular showdown in Godzilla vs. Kong began not with King of the Monsters but Kong: Skull Island, the earliest-set film in the MonsterVerse so far. That story featured a group of Monarch researchers heading to the titular island and discovering the giant ape known as Kong. When we last left Kong he was still on his island, having defeated the Skullcrawler monsters who also dwelled there.
Skull Island is set in 1973, while the first two Godzilla films take place in the present day, at a time when Monarch is trying to learn as much as possible about the giant monsters called Titans, of which Godzilla is one. This escalates when a fringe group begins triggering an accelerated awakening of Titans around the world in an effort to cleanse the planet. In the process, they release the alien Titan known as King Ghidorah, the giant guardian moth known as Mothra, and the massive flying creature Rodan.
The climax of King of the Monsters finds Ghidorah and Godzilla engaging in combat to determine the alpha of the Titans, and with Mothra’s help, Godzilla ultimately wins the fight. It’s here, in the wake of Godzilla’s victory, that Kong will enter the picture once again. At the end of King of the Monsters, we learn that some of the Titans have begun moving to Skull Island, and that ancient drawings reveal that Kong and Godzilla have faced off before.
The story to come
Godzilla: King of the Monsters established that the only way forward for humanity seemed to be some kind of co-existence with the Titans. While the creatures cause rampant destruction early on in the film (at Ghidorah’s urging), once Godzilla takes control as alpha, the ecological benefits of Titan rule begin to reveal themselves. With Godzilla vs. Kong, this strange relationship between humanity and a group of giant monsters will be explored further, with Monarch trying to dig deeper into exactly what the Titans are, even as two of the greatest among them start to do battle. Here’s the official synopsis:
“In a time when monsters walk the Earth, humanity’s fight for its future sets Godzilla and Kong on a collision course that will see the two most powerful forces of nature on the planet collide in a spectacular battle for the ages. As Monarch embarks on a perilous mission into uncharted terrain and unearths clues to the Titans’ origins, a human conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever.”
Godzilla and Kong have a history
When we think about giant monsters in movies, Godzilla is often viewed as the most ubiquitous because, well, he’s the one with the most movies. He’s appeared in film after film over the 60-plus years since his big-screen debut in Japan, and many of the most famous giant monsters in movies are best known through their association with Godzilla.
King Kong has his own brand of cultural ubiquity, mostly thanks to his first appearance all the way back in the 1933 film classic that bears his name. The image of Kong climbing the Empire State Building, swatting away planes, is seared into pop culture forever, making him almost as famous as Godzilla, despite appearing in far fewer films.
Even Kong, though, can’t escape his association with Godzilla, because the two have already met on the silver screen. In 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese studio Toho created their own variation on Kong, with the added ability to absorb and then redistribute electricity. While the new film isn’t the first time they’ve clashed, though, we should also not expect a remake of the original.
Yes, there will be a winner
In Toho’s original King Kong vs. Godzilla, the two monsters duke it out in spectacular fashion at the summit of Mt. Fuji, and for a little while it seems like Godzilla really has Kong on the ropes, even trying to burn his body at one point. Kong’s ability to absorb electricity comes in handy when a bolt of lightning hits and revives him, and the fight again picks up intensity, culminating in both monsters falling into the ocean. At the end, only Kong emerges from the water, but no one ever says that Godzilla actually died, and of course the legendary kaiju popped up again just two years later in Mothra vs. Godzilla.
With this in mind, Wingard has already promised audiences that his films will definitely deliver the kaiju fight goods, and that Godzilla vs. Kong will actually declare a victor.
“I do want there to be a winner,” he said. “The original film was very fun, but you feel a little let down that the movie doesn’t take a definitive stance. People are still debating now who won in that original movie, you know. So, I do want people to walk away from this film feeling like, Okay, there is a winner.”