The new King Kong has been unveiled. A new image from Kong: Skull Island, Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated reboot of the King Kong property, has been released online that gives us our first look at the creature, and yep, he looks like an angry gorilla. Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the filmmaker behind the Sundance indie Kings of Summer, directs this big-budget pic that takes place in the 1970s, during the Vietnam War. Tom Hiddleston stars as a British Special Forces vet while Brie Larson plays a war photographer, and their group stumbles upon King Kong himself while exploring the titular Skull Island.
Speaking with EW, Vogt-Roberts explained his approach to reimagining the creature:
“I had a mandate that I wanted a kid to be able to doodle him on the back of a piece of homework and for his shapes to be simple and hopefully iconic enough that, like, a third grader could draw that shape and you would know what it is. A big part of our Kong was I wanted to make something that gave the impression that he was a lonely God, he was a morose figure, lumbering around this island.
We sort of went back to the 1933 version in the sense that he’s a bipedal creature that walks in an upright position, as opposed to the anthropomorphic, anatomically correct silverback gorilla that walks on all fours. Our Kong was intended to say, like, this isn’t just a big gorilla or a big monkey. This is something that is its own species. It has its own set of rules, so we can do what we want and we really wanted to pay homage to what came before…and yet do something completely different.”
That’s a different approach than Peter Jackson took with his big-budget 2005 remake King Kong, which served as his follow-up to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That film was met with a mixed response given its length and lovingly faithful approach to the 1933 film. Vogt-Roberts stressed that he wanted to steer away from Jackson’s approach—which was that of an accurate silverback gorilla—and play on the myth of the 1933 version:
“I wanted to tell a movie about what happens when people are re-confronted with myths and put back into the food chain and how that makes them react and behave and I think that Kong is a myth that we have been telling now, so if you’re going to re-engage with that myth I think it’s important on a larger scale, but also on a franchise scale that you make it [a new myth]. Every other Kong movie for the most part has essentially been — yeah, there’s been Son of Kong and King Kong Lives and things like that — but the main sort of Kong stories throughout time have been remakes of the same beauty and the beast story, and this movie is not the beauty and the beast story. It’s sort of fundamentally a new telling within some of the mythos of this world and some of the imagery and ideas within this world.”
Additionally, for those frustrated by the Jaws trend of hiding the monster for as long as possible, as in Gareth Edwards’ excellent Godzilla, Vogt-Roberts has some good news:
“We’re also fundamentally not playing the same game that Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla did and most monster movies do, which I’m sort of sick of the notion that a monster movie needs to wait an hour or 40 minutes until the creature shows up. Kong traditionally does not show up in these movies until very, very late, and the monster traditionally does not show up until very, very late in a monster movie, so a lot of these movies tend to have this structure that’s a bit of a slow burn. Something about this movie made me want to reject that and play a very, very different game.”
So it sounds like Kong: Skull Island will hit the ground running. This is a lead-up to an eventual Kong vs. Godzilla movie as Warner Bros. and Legendary are currently developing Godzilla 2 (which lost Edwards as director). It’ll be interesting to see how Skull Island contrasts itself with Edwards’ Godzilla, and one imagines a new trailer for the film will be arriving soon.
Kong: Skull Island opens in theaters on March 10, 2017.