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Shot by Shot with the ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ Trailer

Let them fight, but uh, can they give each other a rest and bring the war to the real Kaiju chumps that deserve their rage?
Godzilla Vs Kong trailer
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on January 25th, 2021

Welcome to Shot by Shot, our ongoing series of movie trailer breakdowns. We’re constantly scouring for perfect shots, and in this column, we share our favorites and discuss them. In this entry, we’re getting in the ring and goin’ shot by shot with the Godzilla vs. Kong trailer.

In the red corner, we have the sultan of swat, the colossus of clout, the eighth wonder of the world: Kiiiiiiiiing Kong! In the blue corner, we have the green bomber, the atomic piledriver, the god of destruction, the king of the monsters: Go-Go Gaaaaawwwwdzilla! Now, after years of anticipation, the two Titans are ready to clash once again for the first time in Godzilla vs. Kong.

Adam Wingard‘s film is guaranteed to be an all-timer rumble in the jungle, brawler amongst the city squalor, and a round that will most definitely shake the ground. Let them fight and place your bets. Are you Team Kong or Team Godzilla? Depending on your answer, your enthusiasm for this trailer might swing differently.

The first trailer for Godzilla vs. Kong does a lot of heavy lifting for the resident Skull Islander. Godzilla turning heel stings for an audience bred to cheer him throughout the 2014 remake and the more recent Godzilla: King of the Monsters sequel. Seeing him positioned as this match’s Hollywood Hulk Hogan feels like a betrayal of sorts and stirs uncomfortable feelings where we could end up rooting for the great ape to take a dive.

Upon closer inspection, however, there might be something more going on between these two Titans. Is this fight rigged? Are human forces operating from the shadows, steering these two champions against each other? Is that even the Godzilla we know and love from the other films?

Let’s go round by round, shot by shot with the Godzilla vs. Kong trailer. There are plenty of clues proposing a different outcome than a mere heavyweight title fight. We don’t have to choose sides, friends. We can still love them both.

Godzilla Vs Kong

“This is our only chance. We have to take it.”

Monarch, the Titan-obsessed scientific organization introduced in the 2014 Godzilla remake, is desperate. Apparently, the King of the Monsters who rescued Earth from global annihilation during the last Monsterverse film has changed his spots. Our Godzilla has gone rogue, tearing through city after city, obliterating structures and people alike. A savior is required.

Monarch’s fleet has somehow captured Kong, champion of Skull Island. Gassed and unconscious, the eighth wonder of the world sleeps pleasantly aboard an aircraft carrier. Hopefully, nothing will come along and disrupt his perfectly balanced weight distribution.

Godzilla Vs Kong

“We need Kong.”

Alexander Skarsgård‘s Nathan Lind gives us the big sell on Kong. He knows what we know. There’s no Titan that can match the might of Godzilla. If the big atomic lizard deems humanity unworthy of this planet, then we’re doomed. Mothra and Rodan might bow to the big G, but Kong is a king in his own right and bows for no one.

Well, except maybe this adorable little child. As we hear Rebecca Hall explain it, this young Skull Island native holds a special bond with the ape. They could even be psychically linked, similar to the relationship between Godzilla and Miki Saegusa (Megumi Odaka) as seen in Godzilla vs. Biollante and the rest of the 1990s movies.

From his first appearance in the 1933 original, Kong has always found at least one human deserving his love. We’re not all bad, but can one human’s brightness redeem the rest of us? Fingers crossed.

monster battle

The Big G’s arrival in the Godzilla vs. Kong trailer is accompanied by a faint orchestral rumbling reminiscent of “Requiem for Soprano,” which famously signified the Monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Those aboard the Monarch fleet stare in awe as the Titan below breaches the ocean’s surface.

It’s time to throw down — cue Chris Classic’s “Here We Go.” Kong delivers the first blow in the fight, a crushing right hook that drops Godzilla’s jaw to the aircraft carrier’s deck. Luckily, their weight distribution is still evenly disbursed, and the two beasts don’t completely topple the Monarch vessel.

atomic die hard

Oh, hold up. Nevermind. Knocked into the ocean, Godzilla stares heavenward and fires a mighty blast of atomic breath. Kong narrowly escapes, pulling a John McClane rooftop-hop, but it doesn’t look good for the Monarch crew. They’re nothing but dust in the wind.

Shun Oguri

Demián Bichir‘s Walter Simmons explains to Shun Oguri‘s Ren Serizawa that “these are dangerous times.” I assume Oguri is playing the son of Dr. Ishirō Serizawa (Ken Watanabe). His dad sure did love a good Titan fight. Like father, like son?

It’s impossible to ignore the schematics over Oguri’s shoulder. Um, is that a Mechagodzilla blueprint? Sure looks like one. We already know based on the Godzilla: King of the Monsters post-credits scene that a Mechagodzilla was in the works within a Skull Island station. It’s time to let that steel beast off the leash.

Godzilla Vs Kong

Could this mean that the angry Godzilla we see tearing through these cities is actually a robot in disguise? There’s definitely more than meets the eye here, folks. The Godzilla vs. Kong trailer either represents a frame-up, a magic trick, or both. We’re so distracted by the big bad Godzilla that we haven’t even noticed the absence of the one true king. We’re placing bets that this film climaxes with the real Godzilla back-to-back with Kong, taking on a mechanical double and a few other sinister Titans.

Godzilla Vs Kong

“The myths are real.”

Rebecca Hall’s Ilene Andrews suggests that there was a war between the Titans many years ago. We see Kong come face-to-face with a gorilla pawprint left on the side of a mountain many moons before. Above him, we also spot a tiny UFO keeping its distance from the beast.

Aliens are nothing new to the Monsterverse. In the last film, King Ghidorah was explained to be not of this Earth. Little green men could be orchestrating this clash of the Titans.

Godzilla Vs Kong

Kong raises a massive ax above his head and roars. Armed for battle, the king is ready to take down his opponent. Again, we see two little ships in the sky above. Well, is that a sky?

Where is Kong? Could he be in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ hollow earth? Those ships are not UFOs but Monarch vessels designed to pilot the world below.

Kong went downstairs so he could tool up. The ax-handle is a Titan bone, while its blade looks very similar to the spine-spikes that stem from Godzilla’s back.

bone ax

Kong takes on two different Titans. Thanks to the Godzilla vs. Kong toyline that has already hit store shelves, we know these two creatures are called Nozuki and Warbat. When the title’s versus match ultimately transforms into a team-up, these creatures will be fodder for our heroes’ fists.

Godzilla Vs Kong

But we can’t think about that right now. The trailer is here to deliver the main event: Kong versus Godzilla. The atomic lizard wants to keep Kong at a distance, but Godzilla needs some new tricks against Kong. The big gorilla comes to this battle armed with his gargantuan bone-ax, and its blade easily deflects Godzilla’s attack.

atomic defense

Cut to an extreme good-guy close-up. Kong rages as he swings his ax south. The might is real.

Godzilla Vs Kong

The final shot: Kong brings the ax down upon Godzilla’s jaw, and there is a blinding explosion. Does the next frame reveal Godzilla’s corpse? No way. Does the next frame reveal a shiny metallic skeleton underneath? Ah, yeah, that’s how you kick this movie up a notch.

The Godzilla vs. Kong trailer is cool and all, but it ain’t Freddy vs. Jason. These are monstrously good dudes — champions of the Earth, if not humanity. We don’t want to pick sides. We want to see them throw down against Mechagodzilla and crush the scientists who dared to build him. They’re the real bastards of this movie.

Godzilla vs. Kong is scheduled to crash into theaters and on HBO Max on March 26th.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)