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Jordan Vogt-Roberts's chest-beating gorilla vs. guerilla is currently tearing through the jungle and the competition at the cinemas, but does #KongSkullIsland deserve the title of king of the swingers? As #BrieLarson, #TomHiddleston, and Samuel L. Jackson tool up against King Kong, we are left with a brave new imagining of a story we have been told a thousand times before, since the monkey first took Manhattan back in 1993.
There are two things that any good film has to nail: the beginning and the end. So , in between Vietnam vets and scavenging spiders, how does Skull Island tick the boxes on that front? By now, I'm sure you will have heard the rumble in the jungle about a possible post-credits scene, while Vogt-Roberts recently revealed that we nearly had a very different film to what made it into theaters. Read on after the jump for a trip back in time and a creature cameo that no one saw coming.
'War' is it good for?
Speaking to Empire, the Skull Island director claims that the film would've been bookended by an alternate opening AND final scene. We would definitely have been left with a very different movie from the get-go and the plans sound intriguing to say the least:
"So it's World War II. A full squad comes to this beach. They're killing each other – and then suddenly, this giant monkey (that looks a lot like the monkey from the last King Kong movie) comes out of the jungle. And they just kill it. It's dead. And you're sitting there going, "wait, did they just kill King Kong? Did they kill the hero of this film?" And then you'd hear a roar and see a much bigger creature – the real King Kong."
When he says "a lot like the monkey from the last King Kong movie," he presumably means Peter Jackson's lauded 2005 entity, which in itself faces a problem; we all saw that Kong plunge to his death off the Empire State Building, and that was in 1933, long before WWII had even started. It may have just been an allegory, but essentially poking fun at the award-winning film is not a great way to start your movie and win over fans. However, having Diddy Kong die in front of your eyes would certainly set the ball rolling with a shocker, only to be amped up by having (Donkey) Kong stroll in just to reiterate how much bigger "our" monkey really is compared to the others.
Roberts said that it was his way of sticking a middle finger to the Kongs of the past, reminding audiences that his entity was unlike any King Kong movie we have seen before. It certainly sounds like a mic drop moment, but the studios soon intervened and said the idea was too insane to bring to screens. The current opening with the a young John C. Reilly's character, and US vs. Japan, sets up the #GodzillavsKong aspect of the expanding ideas for the franchise.
Godz and Monsters
So, if animal cruelty in the first few moments wasn't bold enough, how about ending with a "monstrous" cameo from someone else? We all thought it was a given that the radioactive reptilian #Godzilla would slither onto our screens to set up 2020's Godzilla vs. Kong, and he almost did. That's right, Godzilla ALMOST made it into Skull Island in the flesh, rather than just that Jurassic Park roar off-screen. While it was never as obvious as Godzilla washing ashore the titular island, a post-credits scene took the surviving cast members on a wholly new adventure. Instead of seeing Larson and Hiddleston interrogated by Monarch, Vogt-Roberts planned to see the underwater behemoth surface somewhere in the arctic:
"There was one version of that scene where [Tom Hiddleston’s character] Conrad and [Brie Larson’s character] Weaver were on a boat in the Arctic ocean with [Corey Hawkins’ character] Brooks. Conrad and Vernon say 'what are we waiting for?', and Brooks is like 'hold on, hold on...' – and then Godzilla surfaces and breaks through the ice. But then we realized that doesn’t really jive with Godzilla."
Although it was shot in principal photography, the scene didn't "jive" thanks to 2014's Godzilla. The Cranston-cinematic-crusade clearly stated that the Beast from the East hadn't surfaced since the atomic bomb tests, so in fear of creating a nerd's wet dream of continuity errors, Godzilla has to remain out there lurking somewhere for now. The alternate ending sounds incredibly epic, but you can see that it was stripped back for the right reasons. Ultimately, the Skull Island post-credits we ended up with did more than the original finale could: Instead of just setting up a battle between the two monsters, it also teased the likes of Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah for the planned "Monsterverse."
With references to Taxi Driver, Cannibal Holocaust, and Alien, Skull Island certainly found its influences in other places than just Apocalypse Now. While audiences will remain divided on how supersized Kong stacks up against Jackson's vision, there is no denying that Skull Island has cojones bigger than the King himself, ushering in the battle of the century between two of cinema's most formidable monsters — 2020 can't come fast enough!