Why Godzilla Was Originally Defeated By Kong

Kong was declared the winner of Toho’s 1962 crossover film, King Kong vs. Godzilla. So why did Toho let their monster lose the final fight?

Despite Toho being the creators and owners of Godzilla, Kong was allowed to beat him in their 1962 crossover movie, King Kong vs. Godzilla. Their fight in the classic Toho movie is the first and only time the two have clashed on the big screen. The two won’t get a rematch until 2021 when Warner Bros. releases its fourth MonsterVerse installment, Godzilla vs. Kong.

In the early 1960s, Toho worked out a deal with RKO (who owned King Kong at the time) to make a movie that would center on a conflict between the giant ape and the terror of Japan, Godzilla. King Kong vs. Godzilla saw the two titular monsters come to blows in what Toho called the “battle of the century”. During a fierce battle, Godzilla hit a super-sized Kong with everything that he had and greatly injured him with his atomic breath. Kong fell in their first true showdown, but got another shot at Godzilla when a lightning bolt fueled him with energy. After getting his second wind, Kong overpowered Godzilla and the two went tumbling into the ocean.

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Related: How Godzilla vs Kong Can Avoid Having Kong As The Underdog

Kong was seen as the victor when he alone emerged from the water, but this outcome has been debated by Godzilla fans. However, Toho has offered an answer as to who won the fight. According to a synopsis, King Kong was the winner. To many, Toho conceding that Kong won is surprising, especially since Godzilla – their most recognizable and beloved property – is essentially their mascot. That being said, Toho allowing Kong to beat their monster makes a bit more sense when taking into consideration the story and how both monsters were perceived during this time period.

In 1962, King Kong vs. Godzilla was only the third film to feature the King of the Monsters, who had previously appeared in 1954’s Godzilla and in Godzilla Raids Again, where he fought Anguirus. At this time, Godzilla was regarded as a villain and a threat to the people of Japan. This was two years before the release of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, the movie that rebranded Godzilla as an anti-hero who fights off bigger threats to Japan. So in King Kong vs. Godzilla, he was still being treated as a villain.

King Kong, in contrast, had a much different reputation. Similar to the situation with Godzilla, his franchise only consisted of two movies – King Kong and Son of Kong — but even so, he was a much bigger icon. Kong was incredibly popular, and this was true in Japan as well. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that though Kong wasn’t necessarily a hero, he was seen as a sympathetic figure. Unlike Godzilla, Kong has always had a strong emotional connection to humans, particularly with females. Kong generally tries to protect them from harm, and this combined with his status as a misunderstood monster is part of what makes him someone audiences can root for. Godzilla, on the other hand, wasn’t at that point yet, so it stands to reason that if King Kong vs. Godzilla needed an antagonist, it should be him and that Kong should be the hero who defeats him. Since the days of Godzilla simply being a villain are over, the ending of their next fight in Godzilla vs. Kong is harder to predict. Either monster could win, and without Kong’s electrical powers to fall back on, getting a victory over Godzilla may be more difficult to pull off.

Related: Kong’s Best Weapon Against Godzilla May Not Work In The MonsterVerse

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Updated: November 11, 2020 — 7:52 pm

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