Kong has always been better than Godzilla – and the new MonsterVerse movie Godzilla x Kong perfectly highlights why

Godzilla x Kong
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Warning! This feature contains mild spoilers for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.

Hollywood's ever-expanding MonsterVerse is a curious beast, and one that varies wildly in quality and tone from movie to movie. One thing is clear to me, though, and that's that each installment is infinitely better when Kong takes center stage – or is heavily involved, at least – and fortunately, the series' latest movie Godzilla x Kong is much more the latter's story than it is the former's.

Directed by Godzilla vs. Kong helmer Adam Wingard, the new film sees the titular titans (briefly) set aside their differences to fight a new common enemy: the Skar King, an ancient orangutan-esque MUTO hellbent on escaping his subterranean prison and conquering the surface world. Before that, however, it briefly touches on Kong's isolation and loneliness in Hollow Earth, as it sees the big guy indulging in very human things like showering and… dealing with toothache. 

Listen, I get it. Godzilla – a skyscraper-sized lizard with atomic breath – is cooler than a 400ft ape with seemingly no special powers on paper, but the scaly kaiju just isn't relatable or likeable, even. Throughout cinematic history, he's typically been depicted as an antagonistic character that brings about chaos and death, be it carelessly or consciously. In Godzilla x Kong, he operates on a pretty basic level, essentially sleeping whenever he's not charging up or neutralizing potential world-destroying threats. He doesn't protect the people out of the goodness of his heart, so much as he does to satiate his need to be the planet's apex predator, which is an interesting parallel to Kong's very endearing desire for companionship and connection. 

Kong, given his ape sensibilities, thinks beyond his instincts and has a moral compass, which automatically makes him more engaging and sympathetic. In one scene in the new movie, Kong stumbles across juvenile MUTO Suko, or Baby Kong as he affectionately called on screen, and immediately tries to help the little one before realizing that it's lured him into a trap. Later, he orders the youngster to take him to its leaders, sharing his food on the journey despite those past misdeeds. When the pair catch up to Suko's group, Kong discovers that a whole bunch of apes are being lorded over by the sadistic Skar King and takes it upon himself to free them from their oppressor. Godzilla has history with the Skar King which we won't spoil here, but his beef is more of a personal vendetta, whereas Kong just can't turn a blind eye to the villain's cruelty. In short, he has more of an emotional investment than Godzilla, which goes some way to making us as viewers feel emotionally invested, too. (Can we take a moment here to coo over the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment when Kong gives Shimo a sweet lil' chin scratch, having freed her from the Skar King?)

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Aside from story beats, Kong is just visually more expressive, too, thanks to modern technology and his more human-like face. He frowns, he gasps, he rolls his eyes, he smirks, and more, imbuing him with a lot more personality than Godzilla. 

"The most important lesson I got [on Godzilla vs. Kong] was [that] we could really rely on the VFX to allow us to put you in the monsters' point of view, and let the monsters tell their story, and we could really lean into long sequences with no dialogue and no narration… in a way that I don't think you see very often in blockbuster films," Wingard previously told GamesRadar+ and the Inside Total Film podcast.

When it comes to battle, powerless Kong is sometimes seen as an underdog, though to me, that's actually another of his strengths. Because he can't just stomp on his foes or shoot them with obliterating beams of energy, he has to get creative with his attacks, making all of his fights slightly different. In Godzilla x Kong, we even see him use Suko as a weapon to bash off other apes and lay all sorts of traps for his adversaries, which is obviously insanely fun to watch. (It seems worth noting, however, that the playing field is somewhat levelled in Godzilla x Kong, as Kong gets given an augmented arm towards the end of the film, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for him in the future). 

Kong can also communicate with the human characters, or Jia (Kaylee Hottle) at least, which crucially bridges the gap between the monster action and what's going on on the ground with the likes of Ilene (Rebecca Hall), Bernie (Brian Tyree Henry), and co. All of this really works for these lighter, sillier, Western interpretations of Japanese creation Godzilla, who has more serious connotations, having initially been an allegory for nuclear threat when he first appeared in the '50s. (Kong was introduced in the early '30s, which is just another reason why people need to put more respect on his name). 

Given that the recently released chapter has already made almost $200 million worldwide, having only been out in theaters for five days, it seems safe to assume that another MonsterVerse movie is on the cards at Warner Bros. At this point, I don't really care what the "plot" is, if it's got Kong in it, I will be seated. 

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Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.