Back in ‘62 , Godzilla was the new kid on the block, and Kong was the legacy pick, with King Kong (1933) being the paterfamilias kaiju movie before Toho Studios made that word a thing. However, they did make it a thing, and Godzilla was already doing monster battles with glorified armadillos in Godzilla Raids Again (1955), back when a “King Kong vs.” movie was still a twinkle in special effects guru Willis O’Brien’s eye. So as the sentimental fan favorite, Kong was basically rigged to win while Zilla was just playing the Heel. But I’m going to let you in on a secret every wrestling fan knows: deep down everyone all prefers the villain.
So yeah, the lizard lost round one, but he took a fall for the good of the genre. Almost every time since then, however, he’s been on the side of the angels (or at least Venus princesses, look it up), protecting us from three headed dragons who’d eat Kong’s lunch.
And saying Godzilla isn’t smart? This is a beast who, in the American MonsterVerse, has been around since the time of Atlantis. Kong is just the youngest in a long line of gorillas while Zilla has the age and wisdom of a god. Underestimate that experience at your own peril.
Alec: Sure, David, we all enjoy a good villain. But how often do they win? Godzilla’s resume is just L after L. Godzilla lost to Kong in ‘62, he lost to an oxygen destroyer before that in ‘54, and he lost in ‘98 to Matthew Broderick (but to be fair, we all lost with the existence of that movie). And doggone it, he’s going to lose again in 2021.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have denigrated the beast’s intelligence because I must concede that Zilla is pretty sharp for a lizard. Kong, however, is smarter, more adaptive, intuitive, and quicker in thinking. Godzilla’s nuclear-powered fire breath is certainly formidable to lesser monsters, but Kong is just too elusive for it to prove that big of a threat. Imagine Godzilla’s confusion upon watching Kong simply sidestepping a fire blast. Huh, Ghidorah didn’t do that. Yes, Godzilla, that’s because Ghidorah is very slow. Just like you, I’m afraid.
A Skull Islander or the Savior of the World?
David: First of all, that was not Godzilla in ‘98. It was a stinky-breathed fish-eater from the hacks who got lucky once because of Will Smith. Toho Studios corrected them though when the real Godzilla turned that American monstrosity into a marshmallow in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).