Godzilla x Kong director says this MonsterVerse sequel finally lets "the monsters tell their story"

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Adam Wingard previously directed Godzilla vs. Kong, which was the fourth instalment in the MonsterVerse franchise, and the culmination of those events to date. With Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, the director had the chance to really put his own stamp on the film.

“As a director, being able to follow up a film that I had previously made with all these characters, and the sort of tonal setup that we created on Godzilla vs. Kong, it really gave me a sense of authorship that I felt like I didn’t even have in the last movie,” he tells GamesRadar+ and the Inside Total Film podcast.

That involved putting the massive beasts front and center this time around, with a renewed confidence that the VFX team could handle it. “The most important lesson I got [on Godzilla vs. Kong] was [that] we could really rely on the VFX to allow us to put you in the monsters’ point of view, and let the monsters tell their story, and we could really lean into long sequences with no dialogue and no narration… in a way that I don’t think you see very often in blockbuster films.”

godzilla x kong

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Anyone who has seen Wingard’s The Guest - or indeed the Hong Kong showdown at the end of the previous film - will know of his penchant for a stylised color palette, and Godzilla x Kong takes that visual sensibility even further. “I’m obviously a child of the ’80s, so my influences are really reflective of that time period. I grew up on all the Saturday morning cartoons like ThunderCats, He-Man, Masters Of The Universe. My gateway to my imagination was the toys, and the experience of walking down the toy aisle in the ‘80s. So, on an aesthetic level, those things really have seeped in. Over the course of my career, I’ve allowed those things in more and more. This film is really the grand culmination of that.”

In The New Empire, Godzilla gets supercharged and takes on a purple-hued new look. Kong meanwhile is rocking a rather badass-looking gauntlet on his arm, a mechanical augmentation that’s perhaps set to give him a power boost against the formidable Titans he’s up against here. So, was that device inspired by the toy aisle? It’s a pretty cool new accessory…

“I knew I wanted to evolve Godzilla in this movie,” says Wingard. “And evolving Godzilla is much more straightforward because you know that there is an organic approach you can take to Godzilla, and do new things with him. But with Kong, he’s definitively an ape, and so he’s not going to evolve in crazy, weird directions in a way that you could believably do with Godzilla. But Kong has been so closely associated with humans throughout all the movies, really. So, I like the idea of evolving him in conjunction with the humans’ technology. This is sort of set up a little bit with the idea of them creating Mechagodzilla in the last film.”

godzilla x kong

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Wingard says that when picturing the designs of the characters, he’s not thinking about creating them for the toys. “But I do have fun picturing the designs of: ‘Do they have the immediacy of what a toy has when it’s on the shelf, when you’re walking by?’ That was sort of the thought process when I made [main villain] the Skar King, and I made the [Kong] arm. The way that they pop, color-wise, those were inspired in a way by my experience, recently, of when GvK came out, and going to the toy stores during the pandemic, and just realising how cool it was, and how exciting it was for kids to see these toys on the shelf.

“So, that became an inspiration to me. But that’s a loaded thing, in a way, because some fans, they’re worried that you’re creating these things just to sell toys – and that’s not the case. But the toys are an inspiration.”

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire opens in theaters worldwide on March 29. Hear more from Wingard on the upcoming episode of the Inside Total Film podcast that drops later this week.

Matt Maytum
Editor, Total Film

I'm the Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the running of the mag, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.