Friends, this article is most assuredly a little different than what I normally write – as when all is said and done it literally comes down to being a speculative essay. I suppose if I am being totally honest, this query on if the events we all know from the classic 1933 King Kong by Merian C. Cooper (The Most Dangerous Game) and Ernest B. Schoedsack (Mighty Joe Young) also take place in Legendary Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ MonsterVerse – is really just an excuse to discuss the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong. I will touch an important detail on that upcoming film at the end of the article, before that though we will take a dive into Kong: Skull Island from 2017, because that is the key to this entire article. In addition to the fact that the Easter Egg in the movie, that is quite frankly the genesis of this essay – allows me to share a bit of interesting history concerning 1933’s King Kong.
As I understand it, the novelization for King Kong was published in December of 1932 – yes – three months before the film had it’s premiere in New York City on March 2nd of ’33. Having been partly based on the credited draft of Edgar Wallace, a writer of some renown in the day, who delivered the initial script incorporating the ideas of Merican C. Cooper for what would eventually become King Kong. Sadly Wallace would pass away in 1932 before being able to complete a finished screenplay, so it was Ruth Rose (Schoedsack’s Wife) and James Ashmore Creelman (The Most Dangerous Game) who reworked the draft into an approved shooting script. Judging from online sources it would appear that the novelization was written by novelist Delos W. Lovelace, an acquaintance of Cooper from his own days as a reporter with the Minneapolis Daily News.
In the finished 1933 film, director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) hires Captain Englehorn and his crew of the SS Venture to bring the filmmaker and his party to the mysterious Skull Island. It turns out that in that novelization by Lovelace however, the ship is entitled the Wanderer – and it’s that rusting and broken vessel that is seen in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island as a temple and possibly housing for the Iwi tribe. This is most assuredly the same ship though from the 1933 picture – and in my personal opinion it looks like something broke it’s way out of the hull of the vessel. Furthermore as we are told by Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) whose character in Kong: Skull Island crash-landed in ’44:
“As far as I can tell, this ship washed up about 10 years before I did.”
Which obviously is a rather important date as it would place the Wanderer at Skull Island around the same time as the events of the original movie. In addition thanks to the Kong: Skull Island novelization by Tim Lebbon, we learn from Bill Randa (played by John Goodman in the film) that their expedition wasn’t the first to explore the island:
“There’s even talk of a movie crew disappearing here in thirty-three,”
So, taking all of that into account, I truly believe the answer to whether the events of 1933’s King Kong take place in the MonsterVerse is a resounding yes… and no. While in this shared universe it is apparent that Denham and the crew of the Venture/Wanderer did not return to New York City with Kong in chains – I feel there is enough evidence to believe that the filmmakers are suggesting that they not only encountered Kong but their adventure on Skull Island played out in a similar fashion as seen in the 1933 movie. With the big difference being that they all somehow perished on the island – which sadly would include Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) as well as the heroic John Driscoll (Bruce Cabbot).
In closing out this article, let’s talk about the upcoming Godzilla vs. Kong, which was originally scheduled to be released on November 20th of 2020 – pushed back due to the obvious threats of the pandemic – to May 21st of this year. In fact as many of you are already aware, Godzilla vs. Kong is one of the upcoming films being released by Warner Bros. in 2021 that will have a simultaneous debut on HBO Max as well as in theaters. This is without a doubt one of the films this year that I am most excited about – which is why it is so maddening that we fans of the MonsterVerse have YET to receive even a teaser trailer for the picture – beyond a two second snippet from CCXP 2020.
With Godzilla vs. Kong set to be released in a little over four months – isn’t it time for us to get our first glimpse at the finished film, to whet our appetites for the brawl between these two cinematic titans?