This weekend a cinematic legend hits the big screen in his own film for the first time since 2005. King Kong, one of cinema’s original legendary monsters, returns to cinemas nationwide this Friday in “Kong: Skull Island” and considering the giant ape’s legendary status I thought it would be cool to break down ten facts about the upcoming film in preparation for Kong’s triumphant return.
These ten facts are not ranked in any specific order, other than maybe how interesting they are. This is a fun top ten list to hype fans up for the upcoming second entry in Warner Bros. planned MonsterVerse that began with the 2014 Godzilla reboot and will continue in 2020 when Godzilla and Kong take each other on once again. Let me know your favorite fun facts about the film in the comments below and be sure to check out “Kong: Skull Island”, in theaters March 10th.
10. A Melding of Designs
King Kong has seen many different adaptations over the years. For the latest version of the famous ape he has been reimagined once again, taking elements of two previous incarnations of the character and melding them into one giant creature. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts wanted to create a version of Kong that would be iconic in its own way and reverted the creature to the concept that made Kong a household name in 1933. This includes a more streamlined and simple look and the creature returning to its bipedal nature. However, Kong’s design also incorporates details from the Japanese Kong of the 1960s, the one that first took on Godzilla. Several aspects of the Japanese version of the character were used to make Kong look more like a “kaiju” with abilities and strength more fitting of a monster. This was done in anticipation of Kong’s eventual rematch with Godzilla in a few years to make his a force to be reckoned with against his reptilian foe.
9. A Marvel-ous Cast
“Kong: Skull Island” will see the famous ape come face-to-face with numerous actors that are featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Samuel L. Jackson will appear in the film as Preston Pickard, an Army Lieutenant Colonel who leads the helicopter squadron that flies the explorers into Skull Island. Jackson plays Nick Fury in numerous Marvel films. Tom Hiddleston, who portrays the Norse God Loki, is the male lead of the film while Brie Larson, who will portray Captain Marvel in upcoming Marvel films, is the female lead. John C. Reilly, who played a part in “Guardians of the Galaxy”, plays a World War II veteran who has been stranded for years on Skull Island. Considering the fact that Warner Bros. is trying to start a movie universe of its own with these films, it’s probably fitting they hired actors familiar with being part of a larger world on the big screen right?
8. Familiar Locations And Backdrops
If you recognize some of the backdrops for “Kong: Skull Island” it’s probably because they were used in another monster film in 2015. Some sets for “Skull Island” were built at Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii, not far from where scenes were shot for “Jurassic World”, the highly successful reboot of the “Jurassic Park” franchise. Other filming locations used in “Skull Island” include areas of Vietnam, which is fitting seeing as the films IMax poster is, in some ways, a tribute to the critically acclaimed Vietnam War film “Apocalypse Now”.
7. Anime Influence
In addition to Japanese influences with the character design and powers of the giant ape, the other monsters featured in the film also have influences from Japan incorporated into their design. The film features the Skull Crawlers as antagonists working against the explorers on Skull Island and, as it turns out, these creatures are inspired by several monsters from Japanese animé. In addition to being inspired by the two-armed pit lizards of the 1933 film, Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts revealed he took inspiration from the first angel in “Evangeline”, the character No-Face in “Spirited Away”, and even the Pokémon Cubone for their appearance on the big screen.
6. A New Star Of Motion Capture
In the world of motion capture one name has usually stuck out from the crowd, Andy Serkis. However, “Kong: Skull Island” will feature a rising star in the art with Terry Notary taking over as the legendary ape. Serkis had played Kong in the Peter Jackson remake in 2005. Notary is no stranger to motion capture as he has worked as movement coach for numerous movies dating back to 2001 and had motion capture roles in the “Planet of the Apes” reboot series, “The Hobbit” trilogy and more. However, this is by far Notary’s biggest role to date. It will be exciting to see his take on the famous giant ape and see a new star rise in the art that Serkis has helped popularize over the years.
5. Award Winners Were One Attached To The Project
Both Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons, who have won major acting awards in recent years including an Oscar for Simmons and a Golden Globe for Keaton, were originally expected to be in the film. Keaton and Simmons were forced to drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts and were replaced by past awards nominees John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson respectively. While Reilly and Jackson are very capable actors they are very different from Keaton and Simmons. It’s too bad we will never know what might have been had these award winners stayed on the project.
4. It’s Actually A Prequel
As I already noted, the film is the second in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse and is actual a prequel to 2014’s “Godzilla”, set in the 1970s long before the events of “Godzilla” take place. The film will act as an origin story of sorts for the giant ape as it sees a team of explorers going to Skull Island to learn of its new species. It’s expected the film will explore the first major interaction between Kong and the outside world. While “Godzilla” focused on the appearance of the legendary monster after he had already been associated with the human population, this film appears to take a different direction to establish Kong’s relationship with humans, which is also explored as part of the next bit or trivia as well.
3. Kong’s Kind Is Going Extinct
In the trailer we see that the humans on the island are being attacked by Skull Crawlers and as they run away they come face-to-face with what appears to be a giant ape skull. That’s because Kong is not a freak of nature, he is the last of his kind on Skull Island. The reason the explorers are on their expedition is to discover new species on Skull Island and we find that Kong’s race, despite their size and strength, has been overpowered by the Skull Crawlers leaving Kong as the only giant ape left on the island. We can pretty much guarantee that this will lead to Kong teaming up with the humans to take on the apex predators that destroyed his brethren and maybe this will be the basis of a relationship between Kong and the human race that could play into his battle with Godzilla.
2. Monarch Is Back
With the establishment of a cinematic universe you need to have concepts and entities that bind them together. For the MonsterVerse that appears to be Monarch, an organization that was first introduced in the 2014 “Godzilla” film. At that point it was explained that Project Monarch was established in the 1950s in order to study Godzilla and other creatures like him. Bet you can guess the name of the organization sending explorers to Skull Island in the new “Kong” right? With that in mind is appears that Monarch will be the connecting entity for all the MonsterVerse films. This bit of trivia also confirms that Godzilla was discovered before Kong and that other monsters are being examined and studied as well. Monarch is expected to play a role in the direct sequel to “Godzilla”, “Godzilla: King of Monsters”, that will be released in 2019.
1. Kong’s Eighth Film
While the character of King Kong has been featured in cameo appearances in numerous films, it’s hard to believe this is only the eighth movie to feature him as a central character. Kong started his cinematic legend in 1933 and has since been featured as the primary antagonist or protagonist in seven films, including two remakes of the original, leading up to his eighth appearance in “Kong: Skull Island”. With the monstrous ape expected to be a part of the MonsterVerse for years to come, this will surely not be the last time we see the famed giant ape on the big screen as his legend continues to grow and evolve for a new generation of moviegoers to enjoy.