Cinema’s great big ape returns to thrash and stomp in Friday’s Kong: Skull Island. The action extravaganza follows a group of humans led by John Goodman and Corey Hawkins’s researchers from the secret government organization Monarch, along with mercenary James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), and military commander Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), as they find themselves in titanic trouble after visiting the remote island home of the legendary gorilla. As one might expect, this imprudent journey results in all sorts of carnage, which is cast in a distinctly Apocalypse Now-by-way-of-Jurassic Park B-movie mold. But what many probably don’t know is that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. envision it as merely the start of a much larger monster-mash – something that’s underlined by the film’s post-credits stinger.
Warning: Major spoilers to follow.
Kong: Skull Island follows its human characters as they travel to the stormy, mysterious Skull Island, where on the orders of Goodman’s Bill Randa (who’s in charge of Monarch), they immediately begin setting off bombs in order to locate some of the subterranean chambers that, Randa believes, house prehistoric monsters. It turns out he’s right, but in the process of proving his point, he also antagonizes Kong, as well as unleashes a horde of “Skullcrawlers” that hate Kong almost as much as he hates them. Much chaos ensues, leading to numerous deaths. Yet in the end, Conrad, Weaver and at least a few of their fellow comrades escape Skull Island, leaving Kong to roar in triumph after having once more established his homeland supremacy.
After the credits have finished (replete with heartwarming home-movie footage of John C. Reilly’s Hank Marlow reuniting with his family after decades spent stranded on Skull Island), Skull Island shows Conrad and Weaver holed up in an interrogation room, glowering at the double-sided mirrors they suspect are being used to watch them. Having already agreed to keep their Skull Island escapades secret, Conrad and Weaver are thrown for a loop when Hawkins’s Houston Brooks and his assistant San Lin (Jing Tian) appear in the chamber to let them know that Kong is just the tip of the monster iceberg. To prove their point, Brooks and Lin show them photos of cave drawings of ancient beasts that look exactly like everyone’s favorite baddies from Japan’s Toho Studios — giant caterpillar-cum-moth Mothra, winged dragon Rodan, and three-headed winged dragon King Ghidorah — as well as Godzilla himself, whose climactic image is accompanied by his famous roar.
Thus the MonsterVerse is officially born, with Kong: Skull Island now firmly established as a prequel, timeline-wise, to Gareth Edwards’s 2014 Godzilla. However, while Skull Island’s stinger scene implies that Conrad and Weaver are being recruited for further Monarch missions involving these creatures, it’s not yet known if they’ll actually show up in either of the franchise’s upcoming (third and fourth) installments: 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters (no relation to the 1956 film of the same name) and 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong (which will not be a remake of the characters’ original 1962 face-off).
Casting doubt on Hiddleston and Larson’s participation is the fact that Skull Island takes place in 1973, while Edwards’s Godzilla is set in the present day — meaning that if King of the Monsters is a true chronological sequel (which is probable), it’ll occur a good 46 years after Skull Island. As of now, the only actors currently confirmed for that film (to be helmed by Krampus director Michael Dougherty) are Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, and Vera Farmiga. Plus, with far juicier roles already lined up for the near future — including as the title character of Marvel’s Captain Marvel — it’s difficult to believe Larson will be interested in revisiting her part in this series, which ultimately turns out to be underwritten and inconsequential.
It’s far more likely that Hiddleston, Larson and the rest of Skull Island’s crew won’t factor into the forthcoming MonsterVerse (other than via some flashbacks), since logic would dictate that, going forward, it’ll proceed from the events of Godzilla. No matter how it precisely plays out, however, this stinger guarantees that moviegoers can expect far more mayhem featuring Hollywood and Toho’s most famous goliaths in the years to come.
Watch: ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Reveal Which Giant Monster Would Be the Scariest