So, did you go see Kong: Skull Island over the weekend? Stay through the end credits? EXCELLENT. Not only is that one of the wittier end credit stings we’ve seen but it’s nice to see that the film is very aware of the fact it’s basically a two-hour prologue to Conrad and Weaver, Brooks and Lin going off and having SCIENCE! Adventures.
But it also sets up something really interesting about the Monsterverse that we didn’t see coming.
Remember, 2014’s Godzilla is set in the present day. That story is the end game that MONARCH has simultaneously planned for and been terrified of since its inception; megafauna loose in populated areas and causing untold loss of life and damage. Everything from that point on in that world is going to be concerned with whether there’s going to be another attack or exploring the best ways to defend us against those assaults.
That’s a brilliant premise, a Kaiju Singularity that unifies the world. It’s also, intriguingly, basically the opening of Pacific Rim. In fact, there were rumours that Guillermo del Toro wanted a Gypsy Danger/Godzilla throw-down in the third movie and, well, we could see that. With del Toro passing the Pacific Rim movies onto other hands and various studio manoeuvres it’s not likely at this point, but it’s still a hell of a fun image.
The only problem with that modern day Monsterverse is it’s near total lack of interesting characters. Don’t get us wrong, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen and Sally Hawkins in 2014’s Godzilla are all great but none of their characters were especially compelling. Or, in the case of Hawkins, named. So, any modern day monsterverse movies will have to focus on the consequences of the Hawaii, Vegas and San Francisco attacks at the same time as either retooling those characters or introducing new ones. The fact that always excellent Millie Bobby Brown is front and centre in Godzilla 2 suggests the latter.
But here’s the thing; what if elements of Godzilla 2 have already been seen in Skull Island? And what if Godzilla 2 incorporates elements of both Godzilla vs King Kong and any Skull Island sequels?
It makes sense to return to the Skull Island team, if nothing else because we’ve just spent a couple of hours getting to know Conrad, Weaver and Brooks. They’re fun characters and Lin will be too, once she’s actually given something to do. They’re all megafauna survivors, all have unique skills and knowledge and all have a vested interest in going further down the rabbit hole to find out more about the world. Conrad is only at home in the wild, Weaver wants the photo story of a lifetime and Brooks and Lin do this as their actual day job. They’re a ready-made team of protagonists, maybe with a couple of the surviving Sky Devils coming back too.
They’re also positioned at a really interesting time in MONARCH’s history. This is the crest of the wave, the point where the organisation expands from being a fringe group of crackpots into something massive, strange and possibly sinister. That’s fertile dramatic territory, not just for new monsters but for the impact their existence has on humanity.
Plus, as Skull Island and Days of Future Past have both recently proved, there’s a lot of fun to be had doing period genre fiction. The Vietnam allegory in Skull Island is fantastic but imagine what these films could do with the Cold War? Or the fall of the Iron Curtain? There are decades of phantom history to explore here and that period setting coupled with immense monster action is like nothing else on screens right now.
Which is what leads us to believe that the studio may be trying something truly ambitious; a franchise that unfolds in two time periods at once. The simple fact Godzilla 2 is a sequel all but confirms it’s set after the San Francisco attack. We don’t know the time period for Godzilla vs King Kong yet but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that it’s actually a Skull Island sequel.
We could be looking at a version of the Star Wars approach here with the movies alternating between Conrad, Weaver, Brooks and Lin in the past and the new characters in the present. How great would that be? Older versions of the Skull Island characters could be introduced, questions raised in the present could be answered in the past and you could throw curve balls at the audience that the next movie would answer. More importantly, you could approach this massive concept from two different directions at once. It’d be tough to do without treading on each successive movie’s toes but it’s certainly possible.
That’s what we really take away from Kong: Skull Island; possibility. The film is so unexpected, and so fun, that it opens the door to any number of deeply weird and cool ways to follow it up. It feels like the second piece of a puzzle that began with Godzilla and next year, with Godzilla 2, we’ll get the third one We have no idea what the final picture is going to be. But, judging by Kong: Skull Island, it’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.
Article by Alasdair Stuart