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Check the Gate is a column where we go one-on-one with directors in an effort to uncover the reasoning behind their creative decisions. Why that subject? Why that shot? In this edition, we chat with Adam Wingard and discuss how you shoot a title match as epic as Godzilla vs. Kong.


There can be only one…perfect monster. In anticipation of Godzilla vs. Kong, it’s a debate we’ve been having around the FSR offices for the last several weeks. We’ve taken the conversation to you, the loyal reader, with our Bigger Than a Barn monster bracket. Everybody has their favorites, and it’s fun to root for the underdog (go get ’em, Gamera!), but it’s also obvious that our society has dubbed Godzilla and Kong the top two contenders.

These two titans started it all. King Kong originally stomped into theaters in 1933, but it was the financially stunning 1952 re-release that inspired Godzilla producer Tomoyuki Tanaka to plunge into the monster business. Born from atomic terror, the titular lizard kaiju seized the public’s attention, and sequels flooded the market. However, it only took two films before the franchise brought the icons together with King Kong vs. Godzilla in 1962.

That title bout is an absolute blast once the two rubber suits start smashing on each other, but there are also far too many sequences involving droning, dull humans. A flaw director Adam Wingard most definitely did not want to replicate once he became the referee stuck between the raging brawlers. His Godzilla vs. Kong is a breakneck contest of champions. Coming in at one-hundred-and-thirteen minutes, the latest (and possibly last) MonsterVerse entry supplies only the bare minimum when it comes to people. No disrespect toward Millie Bobby Brown, Alexander Skarsgård, or Rebecca Hall, but Godzilla and Kong are the stars. No puny human can, or should, take their spotlight.

When considering our One Perfect Monster bracket, Wingard has nothing but admiration for the competitors below Godzilla and Kong. The Rancor is cool, no doubt. Who would deny The Blob’s repulsive might? Every Ray Harryhausen creation demands deference and awe.

“If you asked me when I was a kid,” says Wingard, “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man would probably have been really far up on that list. But I don’t know. There’s something about the idea of Godzilla vs. Kong that has always felt like the ultimate endgame for monsters. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the fact that Godzilla represents the East and Kong somehow represents the West. It feels somehow like the Democrats versus the Republicans. The red versus the blue. There’s just something immediate about that.”

Godzilla vs. Kong taps into our primate nature. The desperate clash for survival rests in us all, and selecting a champion speaks to our belief. We want to come out on top. We want dominion on this planet. We have to pick our colossus carefully.

“Maybe it’s because Kong is so very human-like,” he continues. “He’s got opposable thumbs. There’s something about us like him. Godzilla represents more of a cold, reptilian thing. They’re polar opposites — warm-blooded, cold-blooded. And as the director, honestly, that’s what made it so fun to direct them. Their fighting styles are so drastically different.”

One Perfect Monster Final Bracket

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When you look at the Godzilla franchise as a whole, the character frequently swings from bad to good to bad again. Within the MonsterVerse, Godzilla has mostly been used as a good guy or as a global defender protecting humanity from eradication. With Kong in play, the decision was made to place Godzilla back into a more antagonistic role.

“I always saw Godzilla as the heel of the movie,” says Wingard. “He’s Undertaker, and Kong is Mankind Mick Foley. Whenever you have that sort of opposition, the heel has to be more mysterious. He’s blowing stuff up, and there are obviously characters trying to figure out why that is. But at the end of the day, that creates this protagonist kind of thing with Kong.”

In Godzilla vs. Kong, Godzilla takes the backseat to Kong. We spend most of our time with the Skull Island citizen. The ape’s command over screentime doesn’t hint at Wingard’s preference. It’s merely a story necessity.

“Kong is also the underdog,” he says. “He’s at a severe disadvantage in terms of this fight. Nobody wants to watch Rocky and have it be about Apollo Creed because he’s already ahead. What even is that movie? It’s just [Apollo] relaxing, having fun, being confident. Then he fights this guy at the end of the movie, and he’s kind of surprised that the guy’s pretty good? You want to follow the character that has the most to prove and has the most odds stacked against them.”

Godzilla Vs Kong Ending Explained

Kong is the heart of the movie. He’s the emotional character. With a hero in place, Godzilla is free to rampage. Our cities have never been so fragile, nor the devastation so eagerly pornographic. Godzilla turns a rage we never knew he had against us. It’s a nightmare to behold.

“I wanted to really get you right in there,” says Wingard. “I think this is the first film in these Godzilla movies where we have a lot of POVs from the monsters as well. Even though you’re trying to be dynamic as possible, you want to try to ground the camera work. But we do some things that are just totally impossible for cameras to do. If you put a speedometer to it, the camera’s moving eight-hundred miles per hour for some of these shots. We tried to think, ‘If you were actually filming this, there would be a helicopter over there and we’d attach a camera to Godzilla’s fins.’”

Wingard’s mission was to make Godzilla vs. Kong as immersive as possible without betraying the viewer’s brain. Too often, the director has felt a film lose itself when the digital cinematography takes over. Even the best films, especially during CGI’s early days,…

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