The MonsterVerse lives! Not even a year ago it seemed likely that Godzilla vs. Kong would end up being the final bout in the series of movies that launched back in 2014 with Godzilla. But the surprisingly robust box office success of the titanic prize fight — $407 million at the worldwide box office and counting after four weeks, even with the movie being offered for free until the end of this month on HBO Max — has led Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures to believe there’s still lots of life in this shared universe…. including a possible Son of Kong movie?!
According to THR, talks recently commenced with Godzilla vs. Kong director Adam Wingard about coming back for a fifth entry in the series. That would make Wingard the first director to helm a second film in the franchise, with all the others until now basically one-and-done efforts. There’s no timetable for when the film might go into official development or production, and Wingard himself has a full dance card at the moment with a sequel to Face/Off and his beloved big screen version of Thundercats both in his sights.
Godzilla vs. Kong was already in production when 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters stiffed spectacularly at the box office, earning just $386 million worldwide. It was speculated that the follow-up would quickly wrap up the series with the long-awaited clash between the towering fire-breathing dinosaur and the legendary giant ape, who made his big-screen return in 2017’s successful Kong: Skull Island.
Whether it was the seemingly irresistible lure of seeing the two most recognizable giant monsters in pop culture share the screen for the first time since 1962, or the fact that audiences were hungry to return to theaters as many parts of the world — including the U.S. — began to fully emerge from the depths of the still-ongoing pandemic, Godzilla vs. Kong was the right movie at the right time. It’s thrown a much-needed lifeline to still-struggling theaters and provided cautious moviegoers with the kind of massive spectacle that multiplexes are made for.
Both Wingard and screenwriter Max Borenstein have noted to us that there are ideas already out there for a fifth film, so what will they do for an encore? Well, according to the Reporter, one title that has allegedly been thrown around is Son of Kong. And yes, we hear the groans out there right now from you diehard Kong and monster movie fans.
For those of you who don’t know, Son of Kong was the 1933 sequel to the original classic King Kong, produced quickly back in the days when sequels were cheap cash-ins and not $200 million stepping stones to even bigger follow-ups. Robert Armstrong reprised his role as fast-talking showman Carl Denham, who flees to Skull Island to escape the financial ruin brought upon by Kong’s disastrous debut in New York. With an actress not named Fay Wray on his arm, Denham encounters the title offspring, a lovable white ape who ends up saving the man that captured his dad and indirectly caused his death.
Rushed into production (it was in theaters an astonishing eight months after Kong) and featuring many of the same names behind the scenes, such as director Ernest B. Schoedsak, composer Max Steiner, and of course visual effects wizard Willis O’Brien, Son of Kong was just 62 minutes long and we don’t even meet Junior until about 45 minutes in. It’s innocuous enough and more of a kiddie picture than anything else, but also a forgettable knockoff of its much more awe-inspiring predecessor.
So there’s a lot of narrative and creative room for Wingard and company to work with, even with that title — clearly the original Son of Kong storyline will be the first thing to go. But how can they move forward from there?
Given that Godzilla vs. Kong ended with Kong happily reigning over the rediscovered underground kingdom known as Hollow Earth, it seems likely that Wingard — who was reportedly very involved in developing Hollow Earth for the former film — would want to continue exploring that aspect of the MonsterVerse.
It’s been established in GvK that Hollow Earth is the birthplace of the Titans and still a somewhat flourishing ecosystem with its own long and rich history. Kong and Godzilla’s ancestors fought there, and it seems as if nearly all the Titans we’ve encountered before in the previous four films have emanated from there in some fashion.
There are clearly lots of parts of the Hollow Earth yet to be explored, which means plenty of new creatures to be introduced, and certainly one of those could be the offspring of Kong. How that offspring comes into being, given that Kong seems to be the last of his race at this point, will remain a mystery for now — but since the entire Hollow Earth mythology isn’t exactly out of the pages of Scientific American, we’re confident that the filmmakers will come up with some of kind of word salad to explain it all.
Kong could end up discovering another of his kind — a female — hidden deep within Hollow Earth, perhaps waiting for his return or the arrival of another of their species. The birth of Kong’s son could be the big moment that the movie leads up to, with other dangerous creatures all attempting to stop that from happening for reasons of their own.
An alternate twist would be to have the Kong we know from this movie and Kong: Skull Island actually be the “son” of the title, and have him discover that his much bigger, much meaner dad has secretly been surviving all along in Hollow Earth. That would perhaps set up some massive (in all senses of the word) daddy issues for Kong Jr., and we know how much screenwriters love to delve into those.
One opportunity that a Kong-centric movie does provide is the chance for Legendary to create a whole new roster of original monsters. Since Kong has had far fewer film appearances than Godzilla, with the latter ruling an extensive Japanese shared universe for 60 years before this MonsterVerse launched, the big ape has had far less opportunities to develop a monstrous rogues gallery of his own. Son of Kong or whatever it ends up being called could build upon the foundations for that which were put down in Kong: Skull Island and GvK, without having to cut Toho Studios a check to use one of their babies.
Speaking of which… where does Godzilla fit into this whole scenario? We last saw the big dragon swimming peacefully back into the deep after he and Kong teamed up to defeat Mechagodzilla. Is there room for him in Son of Kong, or will he potentially get another solo movie of his own?
If he does, as we mentioned above, there are plenty of opponents to choose from should Legendary want to pay the (reportedly exorbitant) licensing fees that Toho requires. As our David Crow points out here, kaiju from the past 30 years alone like Biollante and Destoroyah rank among Godzilla’s most compelling adversaries, and even oldies such as Hedorah, Gigan or Kumonga could be reinvented as more modern enemies. And there’s always the possibility of Mothra or King Ghidorah returning as well.
Whether audiences have an appetite for anything beyond a can’t-miss-that conflict like the one portrayed in Godzilla vs. Kong remains unknown for now, but it’s clear whatever comes next in the Monsterverse, Son of Kong or otherwise, there’s a vast canon from which to draw stories — and they don’t involve a cute white baby Kong saving Carl Denham’s sorry ass.