Cinema Slap Fight: King Kong Vs. Godzilla

In which I settle an old score.

Obviously, there is already a movie dedicated to the entire proposition of Gojira and Kong beating the crap out of each other. Shockingly, it was called King Kong vs. Godzilla and came out in 1962. In the film, Kong appears to emerge victorious, rising from the ocean and swimming back to Faro Island (not Skull Island, as in the original film...or Mondo Island, as in King Kong Escapes).

It is not my intention to give a blow-by-blow of that movie, because let's face it: As critical as the movie is to the kaiju canon, it still kind of sucks. Instead, I want to look at the fundamental premise of the film itself: In a stand-up fight, could King Kong defeat Godzilla?

And before you ask, yes: These are the kind of questions that keep me up at night.

In This Corner: Kong; a.k.a. Megaprimatus kong; baddest ape on the whole damn island (whichever island that happens to be). Enjoys brawling and has a weakness for blonds/Asians, suggesting he might have had a fine career as a mixed martial-artist.

And In This Corner: Godzilla, a.k.a. Gojira, Gozira, not to be confused with "That Stupid Iguana from the American Film." Atomic ray-breathing, mutated dinosaur resurrected by nuclear testing and key contributor to Japan's exorbitant insurance rates.

Professional Record: Despite the wild popularity of both characters, Kong and Godzilla have only scrapped in the one movie. Godzilla beats him straight up in the film's first bout, sending him fleeing from his atomic breath. Later, when it's discovered Kong gains power from electricity, he has better success against Godzilla. The two fight as equals until falling into the sea, whereupon Kong rises from the waves alone, leading to (misguided) speculation he has vanquished Godzilla.

So against each other, Kong and the Big G are 1-1.

Why This Is Bullshit: We'll get into that. Suffice to say, there's no way Godzilla, whose powers and size have stayed fairly consistent through the years, would have lost to an oversized ape, I don't care what kind of laughably retconned abilities Toho gave him for their movie.

Japanese vs. American: For the longest time, the rumor was propagated that the Japanese version of King Kong vs. Godzilla had two endings, with the Japanese version allegedly showing Godzilla as the winner. This myth has persisted since the 1960s, and were it true, would have mitigated the need for this blog. Sadly, the only real difference in the American/English version is that Kong's roar is the only one heard at the end of the credits (instead of both), and the spectators don't say that Godzilla might have survived. Both of which only reinforce the ridiculous assertion that Kong is somehow Godzilla's equal.

Size Matters: Toho Company, creator of Godzilla, knew the RKO version of Kong -- who stood about 50 feet tall -- wouldn't stand a chance against a 164-foot, 20,000-ton atomic dinosaur. Which is why their version is almost as tall as Godzilla and derives strength and a "shock touch attack" from electricity, which just so happens to be one of Godzilla's occasional weaknesses (it doesn't affect him in the 1954 movie, but in KK vs G, he's vulnerable to it).

[Explaining the issues surrounding the rights to King Kong would give you a headache; the short version is that RKO licensed Kong to Toho for use in King Kong vs. Godzilla, without the consent of Kong's creator, Merian C. Cooper. There is, at present, no sole rights holder.]

Hulk Godzilla Is The Strongest There Is: With the exception of the one movie, Kong is nothing more than a big ape. Even Toho's second live-action King Kong movie -- King Kong Escapes -- depicted him as a larger-than-average gorilla. Godzilla consistently requires the efforts of two, three or even more opponents to try and beat him. For crying out loud, in Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, he killed Baragon, Mothra and King Ghidorah, only succumbing to an experimental warhead fired by the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JDSF), the budget of which must exceed those of the U.S., NATO and China combined.

So now you're telling me some oversized banana-muncher from the sleepy South Pacific could beat him in a straight fight?

Costuming: I'd be prepared to concede Kong's superiority in this category, given Godzilla's 1960s/1970s resemblance to Cookie Monster, if the ape costume in King Kong vs. Godzilla wasn't the worst thing I'd ever seen. I chalk it up to the fact that most Japanese, having never seen a gorilla, were just winging it on the appearance. Or maybe they assumed "King Kong" was English for "Hairy Primate with the Face of a Burn Victim and Enlarged Areolae."

The Verdict: Are you kidding? Look, I admit to personal bias. My extended family are huge Godzilla fans (my uncle cried at the end of KK vs G when he as a kid), but that aside, this shouldn't even be a question.

Finally, which one has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Go go, Godzilla.

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