This article contains mild Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire spoilers.

Before Godzilla vs. Kong finished its opening weekend, genre director and lifelong kaiju fan, Adam Wingard, knew he had to get these two crazy guys together again. Despite releasing the film in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic—Godzilla vs. Kong was in fact one of the first bright spots for movie theaters in the spring of 2021 when social distancing kept cinemas at a quarter capacity—the vibe in the auditorium was still electric by picture’s end.

“I remember there’s a moment at the end of the movie when Godzilla and Kong briefly team up to kill Mechagodzilla,” Wingard says while stifling a sheepish chuckle at the absurdity of it all. “And when that happened, the roof blew off the place. People were just so into it, man, they were so excited, cheering, and stuff. It hit me like a ton of bricks that, at least for now within the context of the MonsterVerse, you cannot split these guys up.”

The way Wingard saw it in 2021 and sees it today, there is a chance to eventually do solo movies down the road again, and to explore other iconic monsters from either side of the Pacific who’ve wound up in Toho’s library of iconic cinematic beasties. But for the time being, people needed more Godzilla and Kong. And he knew the next movie “was going to be about the team up.”

Cut to three years later, and that most legendary of bromances has blossomed into Legendary Pictures’ newest MonsterVerse outing, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, a film that sees how this universe is doing after Godzilla and Kong went their separate ways with the faintest of head nods in the ruins of Hong Kong. For most of the running time, Godzilla x Kong largely keeps the big fellas apart, with Kong hanging out in the Hollow Earth (the Jules Verne inspired center of the planet which is really a lost world) and Godzilla doing his thing as the Titan Police up on the surface. But after Kong and some troublesome humans discover an existential threat at the Earth’s core, with a giant ape army led by a true monster they call the Scar King, the titular characters are forced to cross paths again in what is easily one of the film’s best sequences.

They have an epic beatdown atop the Pyramids of Giza.

The sequence is in all the trailers and is what Godzilla x Kong is building toward. A reunion. Yet when we sit down with Wingard on the eve of the new movie’s opening weekend, he reveals to us why he knew any future meet ups were destined to end in violence. After all, John Carpenter did essentially the same scene in They Live nearly 40 years ago.

“What I liked about Godzilla and Kong as characters is that they’re territorial monsters, and the team up is not necessarily going to be straightforward,” Wingard explains. “That’s where I took inspiration from things like They Live, a movie where the best sequences in the film aren’t the hero versus the villain; it’s the hero versus the hero. It’s the scene with Roddy Piper trying to put sunglasses on Keith David, and they fight in the alley.”

The scene Wingard refers to occurs about midway through what is arguably Carpenter’s most underrated classic. In the film, one tough guy (Piper) discovers alien shapeshifters have taken over the world and are secretly responsible for “the greed is good” mantra of Reagan’s America. So to convince another tough guy (David) that there is an existential threat by way of magic sunglasses, Piper ends up in a magnificent seven-minute fight sequence of escalating brutality. So it is when Kong attempts to reason with Godzilla in the shadow of the Great Sphinx.

“I knew that the big clash in Egypt in the movie with Godzilla and Kong, it wasn’t necessarily a rematch,” says Wingard. “It was much more of a nuanced kind of action scene like They Live, but with Kong trying to get Godzilla to work with him.”

This continued animosity might surprise some viewers considering Godzilla vs. Kong ended with the pair briefly making peace after delivering the smackdown of all smackdowns on Mechagodzilla. But the way Wingard sees it is “at the end of the day, Godzilla’s turf is the surface world. He’s keeping everything in line, and Kong’s gotta go. And in this case, he’s going into Hollow Earth. He’s fine in Hollow Earth. But if Kong comes to the surface, ‘We’re gonna have problems.’”

It’s both an incredulous but glorious perception of the dynamic between the two Titans, and one which is clicking for moviegoers of a certain age.

“I’m in Alabama right now, and I played the movie for friends and family here,” Wingard reveals. “And some of my friends from growing up in high school were watching the movie, and I was explaining that to one of them, and he was like, ‘Man, it finally all makes sense! I get it. I totally see what you’re talking about.’” Wingard is obviously amused as he recalls the reaction, because the meaning of the scene is all there, but when you add classic Carpenter context it adds a grander dimensionality.

Now, if only that big old lizard would put on the damn glasses.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is in theaters now.

The post Godzilla x Kong References an Underrated John Carpenter Movie in Its Best Fight Scene appeared first on Den of Geek.

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