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Godzilla vs. Kong release date, cast and story

In 2020, the Earth will shake as two of cinema's most celebrated monsters clash on the big screen once again. That's right — Godzilla vs. Kong is coming. Though they've fought each other before in films released long ago, the King of the Monsters and Skull Island's Eighth Wonder of the World will meet again, this time under the banner of Legendary Pictures' ever-growing MonsterVerse, with the help of a blockbuster-sized budget and a massive team of talent. 

The fourth film in Legendary's MonsterVerse series — following Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, and Godzilla: King of the MonstersGodzilla vs. Kong will feature not just the two headliners gearing up for a fight, but an all-star cast that includes both returning stars and newcomers, all under the direction of an acclaimed horror filmmaker. Here's everything we know about the showdown so far, from who's in it to how this monstrous struggle could end.

What is the release date for Godzilla vs. Kong?

Godzilla vs. Kong was originally set to open May 29, 2020, almost a year to the day after Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Then the studio pushed things up a week to May 22, ostensibly so the flick could take advantage of Memorial Day weekend. Unfortunately, that release date then put the film up against heavy hitters like the ninth Fast & Furious movie, so Warner Bros. pushed things up yet again to the March 13, 2020. Even after that release date was set, chatter from Warner Bros. head Toby Emmerich suggested that the release date remained flexible as the studio figured certain things out. It turns out were were right to be skeptical that the March date would hold. 

In November of 2019, Warner Bros. announced that the film's place on the release calendar was shifting yet again, this time more drastically. All previous release dates pointed to some time in the spring of 2020, but no longer. Now, Godzilla vs. Kong is set to hit theaters November 20, 2020, just in time to get a head start on a possible Thanksgiving box office haul. That means the film is now opening about 18 months after Godzilla: King of the Monsters instead of a year after, but that'll hopefully give Warner Bros. more time to get the hype machine for the film rolling.

Who's returning to the cast of Godzilla vs. Kong?

Godzilla vs. Kong will pick up after the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which set the stage for a new status quo with Godzilla as the recognized Alpha among the resurrected Titans. With that in mind, we can expect a lot of familiar faces from that film to show up during the showdown with Kong. 

So far, the confirmed returning cast for the film includes King of the Monsters stars Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell and Kyle Chandler as her father, Mark Russell. The Russell family played a key role in the rise of Godzilla as an Alpha after his battle with King Ghidorah, and the loss of Madison's mother Emma (Vera Farmiga) in the struggle only brought father and daughter closer together amid the wreckage of the Titan battle. 

Also returning for Godzilla vs. Kong is Zhang Ziyi, who played dual roles in King of the Monsters as twin Monarch scientists Dr. Ling Chen and Dr. Ilene Chen. King of the Monsters director Michael Dougherty set the Chen sisters up in that film to be a new version of the Shobijin, Mothra's twin priestesses, giving them a deeper connection to the Titans in general — and Mothra in particular — than perhaps any other human characters. 

New faces joining the Godzilla vs. Kong cast

The world of the Legendary Pictures MonsterVerse is a constantly expanding one, and that means Godzilla vs. Kong will have plenty of new faces to go along with its established stars. In October of 2018, perhaps the biggest name amid the cast newcomers was revealed when it was reported that Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, Big Little Lies) had joined the cast as the "leader of a military unit." A few months earlier, another major star's name was attached to the film when it was reported that Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead, Black Panther) was also in talks to join the cast in an undisclosed role. 

The recognizable names don't end there, though. Among the other new stars coming to Godzilla vs. Kong are Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist), Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2), Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver), and Rebecca Hall (Iron Man 3). Expect the cast to continue expanding as Godzilla vs. Kong's release date stomps nearer.

The MonsterVerse story so far

The story that will lead us to the titular showdown in Godzilla vs. Kong began not with King of the Monsters but Kong: Skull Island, the earliest-set film in the MonsterVerse so far. That story featured a group of Monarch researchers heading to the titular island and discovering the giant ape known as Kong. When we last left Kong he was still on his island, having defeated the Skullcrawler monsters who also dwelled there. 

Skull Island is set in 1973, while the first two Godzilla films take place in the present day, at a time when Monarch is trying to learn as much as possible about the giant monsters called Titans, of which Godzilla is one. This escalates when a fringe group begins triggering an accelerated awakening of Titans around the world in an effort to cleanse the planet. In the process, they release the alien Titan known as King Ghidorah, the giant guardian moth known as Mothra, and the massive flying creature Rodan. 

The climax of King of the Monsters finds Ghidorah and Godzilla engaging in combat to determine the alpha of the Titans, and with Mothra's help, Godzilla ultimately wins the fight. It's here, in the wake of Godzilla's victory, that Kong will enter the picture once again. At the end of King of the Monsters, we learn that some of the Titans have begun moving to Skull Island, and that ancient drawings reveal that Kong and Godzilla have faced off before.

The story to come

Godzilla: King of the Monsters established that the only way forward for humanity seemed to be some kind of co-existence with the Titans. While the creatures cause rampant destruction early on in the film (at Ghidorah's urging), once Godzilla takes control as alpha, the ecological benefits of Titan rule begin to reveal themselves. With Godzilla vs. Kong, this strange relationship between humanity and a group of giant monsters will be explored further, with Monarch trying to dig deeper into exactly what the Titans are, even as two of the greatest among them start to do battle. Here's the official synopsis:

"In a time when monsters walk the Earth, humanity's fight for its future sets Godzilla and Kong on a collision course that will see the two most powerful forces of nature on the planet collide in a spectacular battle for the ages. As Monarch embarks on a perilous mission into uncharted terrain and unearths clues to the Titans' origins, a human conspiracy threatens to wipe the creatures, both good and bad, from the face of the earth forever."

Who's behind the camera on Kong vs. Godzilla?

While other franchises might attempt to hang on to a single filmmaker or production team to handle several films in a row, the MonsterVerse has so far favored a slightly more diverse approach, drafting a different director for each installment in the series. The franchise kicked off with Gareth Edwards on Godzilla, continued with Jordan Vogt-Roberts on Kong: Skull Island, and most recently featured the talents of director Michael Dougherty for Godzilla: King of the Monsters

This time around, Adam Wingard — best known for his work in the horror genre on films like You're Next and The Guestwill be in the director's chair, taking on the biggest-budget film of his career yet (another common theme among these projects). Joining Wingard behind the camera is screenwriter Terry Rossio, who's no stranger to blockbusters thanks to his time working on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise at Disney. Rossio is also a newcomer to the MonsterVerse, taking over from King of the Monsters writers Dougherty, Zach Shields, and Max Borenstein.

Godzilla and Kong have a history

When we think about giant monsters in movies, Godzilla is often viewed as the most ubiquitous because, well, he's the one with the most movies. He's appeared in film after film over the 60-plus years since his big-screen debut in Japan, and many of the most famous giant monsters in movies are best known through their association with Godzilla. 

King Kong has his own brand of cultural ubiquity, mostly thanks to his first appearance all the way back in the 1933 film classic that bears his name. The image of Kong climbing the Empire State Building, swatting away planes, is seared into pop culture forever, making him almost as famous as Godzilla, despite appearing in far fewer films. 

Even Kong, though, can't escape his association with Godzilla, because the two have already met on the silver screen. In 1962's King Kong vs. Godzilla, Japanese studio Toho created their own variation on Kong, with the added ability to absorb and then redistribute electricity. While the new film isn't the first time they've clashed, though, we should also not expect a remake of the original.

Yes, there will be a winner

In Toho's original King Kong vs. Godzilla, the two monsters duke it out in spectacular fashion at the summit of Mt. Fuji, and for a little while it seems like Godzilla really has Kong on the ropes, even trying to burn his body at one point. Kong's ability to absorb electricity comes in handy when a bolt of lightning hits and revives him, and the fight again picks up intensity, culminating in both monsters falling into the ocean. At the end, only Kong emerges from the water, but no one ever says that Godzilla actually died, and of course the legendary kaiju popped up again just two years later in Mothra vs. Godzilla

With this in mind, Wingard has already promised audiences that his films will definitely deliver the kaiju fight goods, and that Godzilla vs. Kong will actually declare a victor.

"I do want there to be a winner," he said. "The original film was very fun, but you feel a little let down that the movie doesn't take a definitive stance. People are still debating now who won in that original movie, you know. So, I do want people to walk away from this film feeling like, Okay, there is a winner."

Is another legendary monster joining the fray for Godzilla vs. Kong?

The Legendary MonsterVerse has unfolded so far in such a way that each subsequent installment seems to up the ante on the overall mythology, and each new film does that in an exponentially more ambitious way. We went from only vague hints about what else was out there in 2014's Godzilla, to greater indicators of ancient connections in Kong: Skull Island, to flat-out underwater civilizations worshiping the Titans in Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It stands to reason that Godzilla vs. Kong would also take some really big swings to deepen the monster mythology, but perhaps not in the way we expect. 

In January of 2020, the website Godzilla-Movies reported that its sources have divulged that Mechagodzilla, the legendary robotic kaiju that first appeared in 1974, will be making an appearance in Godzilla vs. Kong, deepening a roster of monsters that already includes the two title icons and probably more than a few of the surviving titans from the last film. Though Godzilla-Movies claims their report is rock-solid, it's probably still best to take this with a grain of salt, just to stave off any potential disappointment. As far as exactly how Mechagodzilla will make his way into the franchise — and whether his origins will be alien or manmade — we can only guess at this point. 

Beyond Godzilla vs. Kong

We knew that Godzilla vs. Kong was on the way even before we'd seen anything from the film that would become Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Legendary Pictures wanted a MonsterVerse that would build to this confrontation, so the film has been in the pipeline for quite some time now. In between, though, King of the Monsters ran into a little bit of trouble. Though it didn't exactly bomb, grossing $385.9 million worldwide against a reported budget of $170 million, King of the Monsters was declared a box office disappointment, particularly compared to the performance of Godzilla worldwide

With that in mind, it's possible that Godzilla vs. Kong will be a last hurrah of sorts for this incarnation of the franchise. It will all, of course, depend on how the film performs at the box office, and naturally fans are nervous about that after King of the Monsters. If the appetite is there, though, the MonsterVerse will live on. "I hope [we make] a lot [of additional Godzilla movies]," Legendary CEO Joshua Grode said. "I hope the gas tank is full."

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