In 2015, Legendary and Warner Bros. Pictures called their shot: Not only would Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla earn a sequel, but the franchise would expand to include a new King Kong movie, and pay it all off by pitting the titans against each other in 2020.
Shockingly, save for a few schedule shuffles due to a global pandemic, the plan worked out. Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ carved out a ’70s-era backstory in Kong: Skull Island, Michael Dougherty pitted the monster-chasing organization Monarch against a handful of kaiju in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and Adam Wingard slammed the cinematic mythology together in the new Godzilla vs. Kong.
So is that the end of the “Monsterverse”? The final scenes of the film may not be what fans of open-ended franchise storytelling might expect, delivering an actual sense of closure. But Wingard tells Polygon “finale” might be the wrong word.
[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for Godzilla vs. Kong]
Instead of tacking on an after-credits scene hinting at what could come next, Godzilla vs. Kong offers the thrill of a happy ending. After the two titans grapple over their long-standing feud Hatfield and McCoy-style, they join forces to crush MechaGodzilla into mechadust. With Earth safe once again, Godzilla descends into the ocean and Kong journeys back to the center of the Earth. Everything is at peace!
The Monsterverse is the result of an elaborate deal between Legendary and Toho Ltd. that grants the Hollywood company access to the Godzilla IP. The specifics of the deal remain blurry, but on the macro level, it prevented Toho from making its own Japanese Godzilla films while the Monsterverse plans played out. Toho has signalled that it intends to pump out its own Godzilla films after the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, casting doubt on whether the deal could be re-upped and the Monsterverse could continue in some capacity. A gentle conclusion to Godzilla and King Kong’s royale rumble may have been more dictated by contracts than storytelling preference, but Wingard tells Polygon that at the end of the day, his movie was never meant as a final entry.
“It was more designed in the sense in the way that Avengers: Endgame was kind of designed as a culmination point, not necessarily an ending, for the Marvel movies,” he says. “This has been the trajectory for the films, and I’m very fortunate to be the one to be able to kind of do it. But it doesn’t mean that it’s over. But we are at a crossroads where, you know, the audiences have to show up and fulfill the the financial end of the things. If this is a success, then you bet your ass there’ll be more.”
While the future of American Godzilla movies is unclear, for Wingard, the critical success of Godzilla vs. Kong will carry him on to a number of other projects. According to the filmmaker, he and longtime collaborator Simon Barrett (You’re Next, The Guest) have a number of scripts in development, including an original film written during the pandemic off-days; Face/Off 2, which will continue the story of John Woo’s 1997 action movie; and the recently announced Thundercats movie, which is expected to push animation in totally new ways. “That is is kind of like a lifetime goal movie of mine that we’re about to start writing” Wingard says.
As for more Godzilla and Kong? “I would love to do more, too. I had such a great experience on this film. I picked up so many tools on how to do this type of movie, and I’m ready to do more.”