Is ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ a Sequel? What to Watch Before the Epic Monster Crossover

Godzilla vs. Kong is set to reunite cinema’s most iconic giant monsters this year for another round of kaiju carnage. The two beasts haven’t met onscreen since 1962, which saw the release of the Japanese cult favorite, King Kong vs. Godzilla. As part of the massive streaming push by Warner Bros., reported by outlets like Deadline, the film will debut in theaters and on HBO Max on March 26.

This new take has been years in the making, starting in 2014 with the release of the first American Godzilla movie since 1998 and proceeding over the course of two more films. Of course, some viewers who are excited to check out the culmination of this series might not have been keeping up with all the films building up to it. Here’s what you need to know.

The seeds were planted in 2014

A 6.6 meter replica Godzilla is lit up during a press preview at Tokyo Midtown on July 17, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan
A 6.6 meter replica Godzilla is lit up during a press preview at Tokyo Midtown on July 17, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. | Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The shared universe of films that have built up to Godzilla vs. Kong is produced by Legendary Pictures and known as the “MonsterVerse.” It began in earnest with 2014’s Godzilla, starring future Marvel siblings Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, and Bryan Cranston fresh off of Breaking Bad.

Directed by future Rogue One helmer Gareth Edwards, the film took a more grounded and suspense-driven approach to the King of the Monsters. It gave only brief glimpses of Godzilla until the explosive final confrontation in San Francisco, where he takes on the film’s villains, a pair of gangly monsters called MUTOs.

This approach divided opinions at the time, with some viewers bothered by the lack of Godzilla until the end. Others found that the slow and deliberate build-up of the action heightened the impact of each encounter. Edwards was also praised for his ability to convey the massive scale of the monsters onscreen.

The film is not currently available on any major streaming services, but cable subscribers can use their login info to watch it on the TNT app.

Connections emerged in ‘Kong: Skull Island’

The universe expanded in 2017 with the release of Kong: Skull Island. Originally conceived as a standalone reboot of King Kong, the film was reimagined as an entry in the MonsterVerse once Legendary decided on building to an eventual clash in Godzilla vs. Kong.

Set in 1973, the film follows a team of scientists, Vietnam War veterans, and a photographer on a mission to inspect the titular island after reports of giant monster activity. The story also expands on the secret government organization, Monarch, which studies reports of ancient monsters and ties together all the films in the MonsterVerse.

Kong: Skull Island featured an even bigger cast than Godzilla, including the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, and Toby Kebbell. It is currently streaming on HBO Max.

The MonsterVerse exploded in ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’


King Kong vs. Godzilla: When Does the Next ‘Godzilla’ Movie Come Out?

The most recent entry in the MonsterVerse was the 2019 sequel, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Trading original director Edwards for Trick ‘r Treat‘s Michael Dougherty, the film diverged from the first film dramatically with a more bombastic and colorful approach to monster battles.

Set a few years after the original film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters sees the world beset by a horde of newly awakened monsters. Chief among them the classic Godzilla adversaries Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah.

The film stars Millie Bobby Brown, Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. According to Variety, Brown and Chandler will be reprising her role in Godzilla vs. Kong. It is also streaming on HBO Max.