Today we review Kong: Skull Island (2017), the follow-up to Godzilla (2014), and another installment in Marvel’s line of monster movies. The film involves several Marvel characters joining forces to stop a monstrous threat. It stars Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
The movie is set in 1973, and the plot involves a team of heroes (and villains) who visit the dangerous Monster Isle on a military monster-hunting expedition. First, let’s take a look at the heroes involved at this point in MCU history:
- Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) leads the expedition, at this time just a military Lieutenant Colonel–long before he becomes director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) comes along as an anti-war photojournalist, fighting as a social justice activist even before becoming Captain Marvel. It seems heavily implied that this military expedition is what eventually inspires her to rethink her stance on war and begin a military career of her own.
- Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken on the illusion of a British SAS captain, for mysterious reasons of his own. This movie on its own actually gives no indication that Captain “James Conrad” is secretly the god of mischief in disguise, but we’re very hopeful that the upcoming Loki series will further explore his motives for coming on this mission.
- The group encounters Nova corps member Rhomann Dey (John C. Reilly), as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). At this point, he has been stranded on the island for some time after a previous space mission gone wrong.
- A young Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) also accompanies the mission. His disfigurement and apparent death in this film at the hands of the subterranean monsters no doubt begin to set him on his villainous path to becoming Dr. Doom as seen in Fantastic 4 (2015).
Next, let’s talk about the villains. The goal of this military expedition is to seek out and destroy a hostile giant ape. Of course, a giant ape as a primary villain is a terrible idea, and sounds like one of those flashy, Grodd-awful characters that the Dreaded Competition would come up with! However, this ape is one of the minions of the Red Ghost, a minor Fantastic Four villain from comics lore, who uses three Super-Apes to do his bidding. While we never actually see the Red Ghost in this movie (because he’s an intangible ghost, obviously), his involvement can be clearly deduced by the presence of the Super-Ape. In short, having a super-powered gorilla as a main villain is a Dumb, Crappy idea, but making a super-powered ape the minion of another, off-screen villain is clearly the formula for a much more Marvelous movie.
This movie actually acts as an origin story for several Fantastic Four villains, as Monster Isle is traditionally the home of the Mole Man and his monstrous minions. We’re confident that this film marks the beginning of the Mole Man and the Red Ghost influencing Dr. Doom to oppose the FF as well (behind the scenes, of course). Strangely, though, it leaves out the origins of the greatest Fantastic Four villains of all, 20th Century Fox and Jessica Alba.
In the end, most of the group resolves to spare the giant ape and leave the island in peace. Nick Fury, though, recognizes that the rest of his team has made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid-ass decision, elects to ignore it. He parts from the rest of the group in an attempt to kill the ape, proving that he isn’t in the business of monkeying around.
Kong: Skull Island is a fun film that provides action, thrills, and helpful backstory for a number of essential Marvel characters. Go give it another watch!