Godzilla vs. Kong finally bows on Blu-ray, 4K, and DVD this week, though if you have HBO Max, odds are you’ve watched it a time or two at home already. The 4K adds a more muted color filter to the proceedings, as some of the bright blues and purples distort a bit around the edges in regular HD. But both the 4K and the Blu-ray include a commentary track by director Adam Wingard. Because he recorded the commentary not long after his special effects were finished, he frequently gets distracted watching his own movie, and goes quiet at times. But here are the most fun factoids we learn.
1. King Homer
If the opening shots of Kong remind you of Homer Simpson, you’re not alone. Homer, of course, portrayed the original King Kong in a Treehouse of Horror episode, and the butt-scratch feels like a major shoutout. What’s indisputably a nod, however, is the location of the containment field where Kong throws the tree spear. It’s sector 7-G, the same area for which Homer is responsible at Mr. Burns’ nuclear power plant. Wingard also compares Kong to fat Elvis, and Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven.
Kong underwent some evolution since last we saw him in Kong: Skull Island. After all, he’s chronologically some 50 years older, and big enough to face Godzilla without it being a total David and Goliath stand-off. Godzilla, however, remains the same, as Wingard wanted to keep continuity with Godzilla: King of the Monsters. And he has one regret about that: that Godzilla’s head is too small. Capturing the big lizard’s facial expressions often messed up the framing of shots because of how proportionately little it is relative to his torso.
3. Unfinished Effects
There’s one unfinished visual effects shot in the movie, and it uses low-budget trickery to incorporate. The image of Godzilla that appears on the TV news is an unfinished visual effect. To make it seem authentic, the shot was projected onto the screen, filmed with a shaky cell phone camera, then adapted to video for the TV screen. Good enough.
4. Well You Know His Name Is Adam
…and he likes to do DRAWRINGS! All the child’s drawings that were supposedly done by Kaylee Hottle’s Jia are actually by Wingard himself, playing around with crayons. He initially asked the art department to provide them, but the artists were just too good to effectively pretend to be unskilled. So he just took their crayons instead.
5. Speaking of His Inner Child…
A big motivating factor for Wingard in making the movie was to settle an argument begun in second grade. Back then, he took it as a personal outrage when one of his friends suggested Kong could beat Godzilla. This despite the fact that Toho made a movie in which that, in fact, does happen. For him, it’s time to correct an injustice and show the correct winner. But a gracious one — he still wants fans of the non-winner to feel satisfied that their guy gave as good as he got.
6. Did He, Though?
Obviously biased, Wingard notes that the odds aren’t really even in this battle, repeatedly noting that “Godzilla’s a god” and he’s just “having fun.” Sure, he gets pissed off when Kong manages to hurt him a little bit, but Kong is fighting for his life the entire time. Wingard concedes that the one time, maybe, Godzilla could have been killed is when Mechagodzilla’s about to laser him down his throat. Though he adds that we don’t really know what Godzilla’s insides are made of, and they might be just as tough.
7. Seeing Is Believing
A lot of preproduction art in the Monsterverse movies features the creatures in thunder and lightning, because it looks apocalyptic and dramatic on the page. But even before the reactions to Godzilla: King of the Monsters came in, Wingard was determined to fight that impulse, because he didn’t want to hear any audience members complaining they couldn’t see the creatures or their battles clearly. As a result, scenes of Kong in the rain at night were limited to his interaction with Jia on the boat.
8. Yes, It’s a Theme Park Ride
If the HEAV flying vehicles look familiar, it’s because, like Wingard, you’ve seen Back to the Future Part II. Specifically, in the climax where they fly around the monsters, that sequence is based on the Universal Studios Back to the Future ride, in which passengers would board a flying DeLorean and at one point, circle a large dinosaur. That ride no longer exists, though its mechanism has been repurposed for…The Simpsons.
9. Legit Rubble
For the 1:1 sets of trashed city streets, the crew would repurpose sets that had already been torn down, and used what remained to create authentic “rubble.”
10. Made in the Edit
It’s often said that movies are made in the editing room. But that’s extra-true on this one, with many, many scenes having been repurposed from their original intent. The movie was never supposed to open on Kong, and that only changed when everyone involved gained the confidence that he worked as a character rather than an effect. Some scenes of Godzilla attacking the tech facility are repurposed from an older bit where he attacked a Monarch base. At any given time, shots of crowds running may have been taken from a completely different moment. And if you want to really see how the characters’ journeys have been changed, look closely for the moments where their clothes changed between shots. Odds are you didn’t catch any of that the first time, which means the editors did their jobs. Trust the director to spoil their secrets.