‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ director wants you to care about the beasts


Twenty-two films into a mind-numbing “Godzilla” movie marathon, director Adam Wingard thought he couldn’t take anymore.

“I was half-comatose,” Wingard told The Post. “But then this scene came on, and I was flooded with emotion.” 

The movie was 1995’s “Godzilla vs. Destoroyah,” and the scene was one in which Godzilla Junior is killed in battle and Godzilla senior bows his head in mourning. 

“I noticed that any time these movies made me feel that these monsters had personalities and feelings, that’s when I was most excited,” the director said. “That was a big turning point for me.”

With the latest entry in the MonsterVerse series, “Godzilla vs. Kong” — in theaters and HBO Max on Wednesday — Wingard was determined to treat the two titular creatures not as hulking, unfeeling beasts, but as “fully fleshed-out” characters. 

At least as much as was allowed. 

Godzilla was a bigger challenge than Kong, because Toho, the Japanese company that owns the kaiju (strange beast), has strict rules about what can and can’t be done with him. 

“There’s literally a guy at Toho, I think his actual title is Chief Godzilla Officer, whose whole job is to keep up with what Godzilla should do,” Wingard said. “Godzilla is a godlike presence, you can’t show him eat things and you can’t show him emote.” 

The latest entry in the MonsterVerse series is “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
The latest entry in the MonsterVerse series is “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Enterta

In this sequel to 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” two scientists (Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgård) attempt to return Kong to his home in a hidden world at Earth’s center, but the giant ape is attacked by his centuries-old enemy, Godzilla. 

The filmmakers attempted to make the giant lizard more distinctive by infusing him with “swagger.” 

“He doesn’t care about anyone because he knows he’s the alpha dog,” the director said. “It comes from his walk and the way he carries himself.” 

In the film’s first battle between Godzilla and Kong, for example, Godzilla is hit in the back by missiles. In an early version, the missiles distract Godzilla, allowing Kong to briefly gain the upper hand. But in the film’s final print, Godzilla simply swipes his tail, destroying the jets that are firing at him.

‘There’s something about the innocence and purity of King Kong that strikes through the heart of people.’

Kong was easier to give emotions, which are mostly communicated through his eyes. 

Wingard was inspired to make Kong sympathetic after watching 1976’s “King Kong” with his girlfriend. The finale brought her to tears. 

“There’s something about the innocence and purity of King Kong that strikes through the heart of people,” Wingard said. 

Much of the digital work on Kong was done by Weta — the same effects company co-founded by director Peter Jackson and that worked on his 2005 film “King Kong” and the recent “Planet of the Apes” movies. 

“They had this library of how to approach primate emotions,” Wingard said. 

The Kong here is childlike with an expressive face that conveys sadness, anger and at one point, a slight smile. 

In the end, Wingard knew that when the film premiered, many viewers wouldn’t care about how cool the two giants’ city-destroying battles looked if they weren’t invested in the combatants. 

“This might be a once-in-a-generation that we get a chance to see these guys match up,” Wingard said. “And if this is the last one you see for another 50 years, this is our one chance to get it right.”

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’: Why the killer lizard is king of the monsters

Adam Wingard, director of “Godzilla vs. Kong” — out March 31 in theaters and on HBO Max — told The Post that he used to do what a lot of little kids did: daydream about who would win in a battle between fictional characters. 

So who would reign supreme? No spoilers here, but take a look at a power ranking of five kaiju (Japanese for “strange beast”) based on previous films. 


Godzilla paints the town blood-red in 1998.
Godzilla paints the town blood-red in 1998.
©Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

Height: 393 feet

Powers: Atomic breath, using his tail like a club

He’s survived attacks by humans, battles with giant monsters and an awful 1998 Roland Emmerich reboot. At this point, it’s safe to say Godzilla is nearly unkillable and dominates among the kaiju. 

King Kong

King Kong and Godzilla battle it out in 1962.
King Kong and Godzilla battle it out in 1962.
Courtesy Everett Collection

Height: 300+ feet

Weapon: An axe made from Godzilla’s dorsal fin

They don’t call him King for nothing. The giant gorilla is a ferocious fighter, and in his previous battle with his nemesis in 1963’s “King Kong vs. Godzilla,” Kong seemingly bested Godzilla after wrestling him off a cliff and into the sea. 


Godzilla battles Mothra in 1964.
Godzilla fights Mothra in 1964.
Courtesy Everett Collection

Size: a wingspan of 803 feet

Powers: Eating very, very large sweaters; can also fly and spit silk at enemies

For a moth, she packs a punch. In 1964’s “Mothra vs. Godzilla,” the giant insect was killed by Godzilla, but her larvae ultimately ensnared and defeated the monster. 


Mechagodzilla has metal — but maybe not enough mettle against Godzilla.
Mechagodzilla has plenty of metal — but maybe not enough mettle against Godzilla.
Alamy Stock Photo

Height: 300+ feet

Powers: Atomic breath and a battery of missiles

The giant robotic dinosaur has historically not fared particularly well against its flesh-and-blood counterpart. In their first battle back in 1977, Godzilla and his ally, the doglike King Caesar, tore off Mechagodzilla’s head. Ouch!

King Ghidorah

Ghidorah is a tall one, topping out at 521 feet.
Ghidorah is a tall one, topping out at 521 feet.
Warner Bros. / Everett Collection

Height: 521 feet

Powers: A serious set of wings that allow him to fly nearly fast enough to break the sound barrier

The three-headed dragon has lost at nearly every turn to Godzilla, including being brutally incinerated in 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” 


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