“Star Wars” movies and the “Alien” franchise inspired Adam Wingard to become a filmmaker, so putting the two most iconic giant monsters in cinema history in opposite corners and having them duke it out is pretty much his bread and better. “Being able to do a movie that is based on pure imagination was so great,” says Wingard, director of the rock-‘em-sock-‘em spectacle “Godzilla vs. Kong” (in theaters and streaming on HBO Max Wednesday).
The sci-fi creature feature is the culmination so far of the rebooted MonsterVerse, which introduced an updated take on the classic Japanese kaiju in 2014’s “Godzilla” and brought back simian royalty three years later with the ’70s-set “Kong: Skull Island.” Digging into the greater monster mythology, the new film pits them in a rematch eons in the making. Godzilla, coming out of 2019’s “King of the Monsters,” was Earth’s de facto protector but now he’s attacking cities for unknown reasons, which worries one of his advocates, teenager Madison Russell (Millie Bobby Brown). Godzilla’s path of destruction leads him into conflict with Kong, who’s been transported off Skull Island so that his allies – including geologist Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgard) – can take him back home to Hollow Earth, a mythical locale in the center of the planet.
Wingard chats with USA TODAY about steps he took to make this monster mash memorable. With the thunder lizard standing at 393 feet tall and the big gorilla (who’s grown since “Skull Island”) just a bit shorter at 338 feet, both could dunk on the Statue of Liberty. In their faceoffs, Wingard tried to abide by “the rules of the actual size of the monsters” so much so that when it was first mentioned that Godzilla and Kong wouldtangle on an aircraft carrier, “I thought that’s just pushing it too far” due to their sheer size alone.
But Wingard found out how large those ships actually were and it made scientific sense both could be on it at the same time. “How cool is it that we get to see Godzilla get punched in the face by King Kong on an aircraft carrier? We’ll do anything to figure out how to make that work, but we also want it to be believable on some level.”