The first trailer for Godzilla vs Kong has erupted online. The Warner Bros 'MonsterVerse' franchise continues apace with a sure-to-be-epic clash of the titans: giant lizard Godzilla against equally giant ape King Kong.
This momentous clash has never been seen before in a Hollywood movie – in fact, to find the last time the two icons brawled, we have to go back to 1962's Toho Studios movie King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Here's our breakdown of the trailer, revealing hidden secrets and allusions to where the saga may be headed.
1. Is that Mechagodzilla?
Mechagodzilla first turned up in 1974's Toho Studios movie Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (no, it's not the most original title). The character was swiftly established as the giant lizard's nemesis, a bionic, man-made weapon designed to protect humanity from Godzilla's rampaging attacks.
However, it's been established in the 'MonsterVerse' so far that the current iteration of Godzilla is a good guy/creature – albeit one with the potential to cause billions of dollars of costly damage. He was embraced as mankind's saviour at the end of both Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019).
So, by power of deduction, are we to assume that Mechagodzilla is being used to stage attacks that are then being pinned on the title character? Could the development of Mechagodzilla himself allude to a dangerous corporate conspiracy hovering in the background? So many questions, and so few answers.
2. Kong captured
The current iteration of King Kong was introduced in 2017's Kong: Skull Island. He's vastly more imposing than any of his previous big-screen incarnations, and when we first met him, he was embroiled in a battle on two fronts.
Firstly, he had to contend with a crack squad of army operatives and government officials sent, in 1973, to Skull Island to prove Kong's existence. More pressingly, he was locked in conflict with the deadly skull crawlers who, it was suggested, had wiped out most of Kong's species.
Unlike the original King Kong movies, Skull Island ended with Kong staying where he was. It's evident from the Godzilla vs Kong trailer that some kind of expedition has succeeded in bringing him back to the mainland – how many years afterwards is unclear. One can assume looking at the slick cityscapes and hairstyles/clothing of the characters that we're not in the 1970s or 1980s – maybe the 1990s at the earliest?
If so, that would place this movie before the events of both Godzilla and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. This is unlikely as the beastie's arrival in the former film was clearly a huge surprise to everyone. It's more likely that we're in post-King of the Monsters territory, as we wait to see how the time-jumping threads of this franchise continue to be woven together.
3. Savagery tamed
The notion of beauty and the beast is one that's coursed through the Kong movies. In this latest film, it gets a more innocent twist. The person to tame the mighty Kong this time is not imperilled actress Ann Darrow (played, variously, by Fay Wray and Naomi Watts), but a young girl who shares a deep-seated connection with the oversized ape.
There's a definite Steven Spielberg feel to proceedings here, which is what we'd expect from director Adam Wingard. He's steeped in a knowledge of genre cinema, with his 2014 movie The Guest aping the likes of The Terminator and The Stepfather.
In this instance, he looks to be bringing the vibe of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, fashioning an air of wide-eyed wonderment and compassion in the midst of a fantastical story. Spielberg shot most of E.T. from the eyeline of his young child actors, and we wouldn't be surprised if many sequences in Godzilla vs. Kong went the same way.
4. Godzilla and Kong's war
During the course of the 'MonsterVerse', mankind's presence on the food chain has been firmly established. In Godzilla, the title character and the enemies against which he was pitted were designated as MUTOs – Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism. Such terminology wasn't used in Kong: Skull Island, but a crafty post-credits scene established Kong as one of several ancient beings.
This anticipated the eventual release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, where the MUTO terminology was changed to Titans, referring to the emergence of classic Godzilla creatures King Ghidorah, Rodan and Mothra.
It remains to be seen whether Godzilla vs Kong will pick up these story threads. However, there's clear reference to an ancient war between Godzilla and Kong's respective species, a primordial conflict that is now rearing its head in our modern world. It's all we can do to stay out of the way, although, fortunately, we've got the likes of Rebecca Hall's brainy scientist to explain what's going on.
5. Kong vs Godzilla's atomic breath
One cannot have a Godzilla movie without his signature atomic breath movie. (Actually, you can: Roland Emmerich's 1998 remake, but let's forget that entirely.) Rarely, however, has Godzilla's halitosis been deflected so vigorously by his enemies.
6. Monarch's conspiracy
This is likely the most important shot in the trailer. For one thing, we get the clearest reference to Monarch, the government agency that observed Kong in the 1970s, and continued its clandestine operations throughout the modern-day Godzilla timeline. Monarch's motivations have been hazy to say the least, although mostly leaning towards the side of good, seemingly not intent on exploiting Godzilla or Kong but, rather, establishing their respective origins.
The shot also gives clear reference to a number of worldwide attacks that implicate Godzilla. This brings us full circle back to our opening point: why would Godzilla, established twice as the monster who saved mankind, now be branded as a villain? The Godzilla vs Kong trailer appears to land on the side of the lizard being the antagonist, but that's likely just a clever way of throwing us off the scent.
Clearly, the tide of public opinion must have swayed against Godzilla considerably if the U.N. has vetoed him (check out the clipping on the bottom right). Are we, in fact, looking at the actions of Godzilla, or a lookalike creature that is being controlled by someone else? We reckon there's a lot more information to be teased out of this 'MonsterVerse' saga...
Putting aside the speculation raised by the trailer, the biggest question is this: when will Godzilla vs Kong be released? At the moment, it's listed as 'coming soon', so stay tuned to the blog and on Twitter @Cineworld for more details.