Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~
The rematch is on. After a miraculous movie deal, Godzilla and King Kong will square off on the big screen in 2020.
Many fans of giant monsters are buzzing with excitement over the possibility of this title bout. I’m not as excited as I could be. Recently I got around to watching “Kong: Skull Island” (2017), and I think our gorilla friend is in trouble.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the movie’s fault. “Kong: Skull Island” is an enjoyable film. If you like seeing big creatures toss around small aircraft, well there’s even more to love. As everyone knows, the parts with the humans are always the weakest moments of these flicks, but this film largely fixes that fault by tossing in an amazing array of famous actors. Although I’m sure a paycheck helped, these people clearly wanted to be in a monster movie.
Kong is definitely the king of his own film and everything on Skull Island, but what happens when this local lad has to move out into the broader monster fight world? It pains me to ask this. After all, Kong was the first. But over the many decades since his debut in 1933, giant monsters have gotten, well, a lot more gigantic.
To me, the whole Godzilla/King Kong thing always seemed a bit lopsided. Kong was just so much smaller than the Big G. In their only onscreen rumble, “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1962), producers had to scale the great ape up from his original 25 foot size up to 148 feet so that he could near the height of Japan’s most infamous kaiju. The newest version of Kong stands in at about 100 feet. In his modern form, Godzilla is now 350 feet tall. How could Kong ever be that big?
One thing Kong might have going for him is time. “Kong: Skull Island” is set at the end of the Vietnam War. During the course of that film, one character suggests that Kong is immature. Our simian brawler has some growing to do. So perhaps, in the course of about four decades, he can make up some of that deficit. Even if he ate a whole GNC store, I doubt he’d mix enough mysterious powder to make himself triple in height.
Equalizing height is really about making things look good on film. In nature, a smaller primate can win a fight thanks to its greater strength. For example, conventional wisdom holds that chimpanzees are about five times stronger than humans. Said another way, get a chimp really angry, and it will mess you up.
Even if that wisdom holds and a smaller Kong is somehow stronger than a giant reptile, Godzilla has one distinct advantage: his fiery breath weapon. And like just about all other forms of life, Kong is decidedly and noticeably flammable. The Big G’s flame is radioactive too, and as we all know, radiation just makes things worse.
So my recommendations to Kong’s trainers are as follows: Don’t worry so much about the height. Make the “big” in the Big G work against the monster. Teach the great ape to duck and weave. Plan for a long fight and use rope-a-dope tactics. Kong must learn to find cover fast when Godzilla starts glowing. Oh, and buy a fight robe that’s really a huge radiation suit bedazzled with cadmium control rods.