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4 Ways Godzilla vs. Kong Honors Its Titans’ First Battle

Godzilla vs. Kong was my second favorite movie of 2021. I know, from an objective point of view, it’s not exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d almost swear it was made just for me. Godzilla is my favorite fictional character of all time, and Kong is my second favorite kaiju, so seeing these two titans share the screen was absolute magic. I really loved seeing them fight, but even more than that, getting a chance to root for both of them together against the villainous Mechagodzilla was just about a dream come true.

On top of that, Godzilla vs. Kong also pays tribute to an old giant monster film that was one of my favorites as a kid: King Kong vs. Godzilla. That’s right, these two on-screen behemoths met once before back in 1963, and their latest battle honors that movie by remixing some of its best and most unique scenes. Sometimes those tributes are obvious, other times they’re a bit more subtle, but either way, if you’re a fan of kaiju films, you’re sure to get a kick out of these four ways Godzilla vs. Kong honors its titular titans’ first cinematic rumble.

1) Kong Takes Flight

Kong being transported by air

When the human characters transport Kong across the sea to Antarctica, they run into a little problem. Godzilla shows up unexpectedly, and the two titular titans duke it out for the first time in about 60 years. It’s an awesome fight, and as you might expect, Godzilla wins pretty decisively. The sea is his domain, so Kong doesn’t really stand much of a chance in this environment.

After the fight is over, the humans turn off their ships’ engines and “play dead,” so Godzilla turns around and leaves them alone. However, they know he’ll come back if they rev those engines up again, so they’re forced to come up with another way to transport their giant cargo. They decide to put Kong in a humongous net, and they call in a fleet of helicopters to carry him the rest of the way to their destination.

And if you’ve seen King Kong vs. Godzilla, that scene is sure to ring a bell. The first time these two kaiju faced off, the human characters had to bring Kong to Godzilla for the film’s final battle and they came up with a very similar plan. They put him to sleep with some sedatives and a bit of music from his homeland and they attached him to a bunch of newly invented super-strong wires. Next, they tied these wires to a bunch of big balloons and they enlisted a couple of helicopters to steer this giant cargo towards Godzilla.

These are the only two times Kong has ever been transported that way, so the similarity between the two scenes is impossible to miss. It’s clearly an intentional tribute to King Kong vs. Godzilla, and it shows that the filmmakers behind Godzilla vs. Kong are well versed in their kaiju history.

2) An Ax Down the Throat

Kong shoving an ax in Godzilla's mouth

If you’ve ever seen the original King Kong, you know that the giant ape was never intended to go toe to toe with a creature as big as Godzilla. In his first incarnation, Kong was only about 20 feet tall, so for both of his fights with Godzilla, he needed to go through a bit of a growth spurt. On top of that, the movies also give him a few extra weapons to level the playing field even more, and in Godzilla vs. Kong, that weapon is a giant ax.

As we learn in the film, Godzilla’s and Kong’s ancestors had a war in ancient times, and the giant apes were smart enough to build weapons to help them fend off the radioactive lizards. When Kong returns to his ancestral homeland in the center of the earth, he finds one of these weapons, a giant ax, and he uses it to great effect throughout the rest of the movie. In particular, there’s a really cool scene where Godzilla is about to shoot out his atomic breath but Kong rams the ax’s handle into his mouth, literally stifling the blast before it even starts.

This is a clear callback to King Kong vs. Godzilla, and even if you’ve never seen that film, there’s a good chance you’ll catch the reference. At one point in that original movie, Kong shoves a tree into Godzilla’s mouth just like he does with the ax in Godzilla vs. Kong, and it’s such a silly moment that it’s been turned into a pretty popular meme. It’s arguably the most famous image from the entire movie so it’s no surprise that Godzilla vs. Kong would honor it in such a cool way.

3) Kong’s Strategy

Kong on top of a building

While Godzilla vs. Kong makes it pretty clear that Godzilla is the stronger of the two alpha titans, it’s equally clear that Kong is smarter. At one point in their big fight, Kong manages to get away from Godzilla, and as the giant lizard is looking for him, Kong climbs a tall building and distracts his enemy by throwing what looks like a radio tower in the wrong direction. His tactic works, and as Godzilla’s attention is diverted, Kong jumps on his back and temporarily gains the upper hand.

Admittedly, King Kong vs. Godzilla doesn’t have anything that matches this scene exactly, but there is one moment that’s so close it can’t be a coincidence. At one point in the monsters’ final battle, Kong hides behind a huge boulder, and as Godzilla passes him without noticing, Kong grabs the giant lizard’s tail and goes on the attack.

As I said, this doesn’t match the details of the scene from Godzilla vs. Kong, but it does show a similar strategic intelligence on Kong’s part. In both instances, he’s smart enough to trick Godzilla into thinking he’s somewhere he’s not, and that similarity is almost certainly an intentional callback.

4) Reviving Kong

Kong being revived

At the end of the titular battle in Godzilla vs. Kong, it’s pretty clear that Godzilla has won, but you don’t realize how badly Kong was hurt until it’s almost too late. Godzilla nearly killed him, so if the good guys want to have any chance of stopping Mechagodzilla, they need to restart the giant ape’s heart. Thankfully, one of them suddenly comes up with a brilliant idea. He gets into the HEAV, the vehicle that took them to the center of the earth and back, and he lands it on Kong’s chest. He sets it to self-destruct and then runs out as fast as he can, and when the HEAV blows up, it acts as a defibrillator and revives the giant ape.

At first, this scene doesn’t seem to parallel anything in King Kong vs. Godzilla, but a closer look tells a different story. As I said before, both times Kong and Godzilla have met, Kong has needed a bit of extra help, and the first time they fought, that help came in the form of a strange new ability. In King Kong vs. Godzilla, Kong grows stronger when his body absorbs electricity, and that ability literally saves his life. At one point in the monsters’ final battle, Godzilla knocks Kong out cold, and it looks like he’s going to win the fight pretty definitively. But seemingly out of nowhere, a storm passes over the creatures, and a bolt of lightning revives the giant ape and gives him the strength he needs to turn the tide.

Granted, the details of this scene are pretty different from those of Kong’s revival in Godzilla vs. Kong, but the main idea is the same both times: Godzilla has beaten Kong, but a burst of electricity revives the giant ape and allows him to continue fighting.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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