Weird Hollywood Crossover Films That Make 'King Kong v. Godzilla' Seem Pretty Tame
The transfer of the developing King Kong movie Kong: Skull Island from Universal Pictures to Warner Bros. is a move that makes it very clear what's in store for monster enthusiasts. Now that WB has the rights to both the giant ape and Japan’s favorite nuclear fallout metaphor Godzilla, a property the studio revived to relative success in May of 2014, the opportunity practically goes without saying. In due time, we’ll be witnessing the cinematic smack down of the generation. That's right: soon, there will be a King Kong vs. Godzilla movie to entertain us all at the theaters.
Considering the casting shakeups that have so far haunted the developing Skull Island picture — namely the dismissal of stars Michael Keaton and J.K. Simmons — the attachment to a forthcoming event piece like a King Kong vs. Godzilla movie (their first rematch since 1962) might be all too necessary. Granted, standing involvement of favorites like Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson surely bodes well for the colossal simian’s origin story. But it isn’t the charm of Loki that Warner Bros is interpreting as the secret of Marvel’s success, rather the gravitational pull of the looming assembly feature.
That said, you couldn’t accurately call The Avengers, and its sequel Age of Ultron, crossover films, like you would the inevitable KongZilla phenomenon. The crossover is a different beast from the franchise assembly; it congregates independent characters that have no real business interacting with one another, usually resulting in some mighty weird cinema. Here are a few memorable (though not universally for the better) entries from Hollywood’s crossover history.
Even at its most marketable, the crossover species has, historically, been inherently odd. The earliest, and probably most affectionately remembered, propagators of the trope were comic duo Abbott and Costello, who had run-ins with monsters and creatures from all corners of Hollywood horror (and once with “the killer Boris Karloff” himself).
In the early 2000s, studios ripped monstrous antagonists from ’70s and ’80s genre cinema to yield the likes of Freddy vs. Jason and Alien vs. Predator. Both, though inherently watchable, suffered thanks in part to their dismissal of what made Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, the Xenomorph, and the Predator compelling in the first place: fear, which doesn’t carry a lot of weight when there’s no one else in the movie to scare.
But at least the pairings of Freddy Krueger with Jason Voorhees and the Xenomorph with the Predator made relative thematic sense…at least when compared to efforts like the 2005 animated VOD release, The Batman vs. Dracula. Although there was print precedent for the idea of Bruce Wayne fending against the vampire race, it’s still a befuddling notion to see take form in action.
Just as jarring, perhaps, is the wave that has overtaken the Hanna-Barbera lot over the past decade: a real-world partnership with WrestleMania that has placed Scooby-Doo and the Flintstones in the company of professional wrestlers like Triple H, the Undertaker, and John Cena. Even though the Scooby-Doo franchise entertained celebrity guest stars at the height of its popularity, there’s something a bit more strange about seeing Mysteries, Inc. cavorting with Vince McMahon rather than with Sonny and Cher.
The Totally Bonkers
But none of that compares to the most extreme variations of the type. The pairing of real life historical figures with fantastical monsters became an unlikely trend in the mid ’60s, finding Billy the Kid in the company of Dracula, and Jesse James facing off with, of all characters, Frankenstein’s daughter. A few years later, this degree of peculiarity hit the realm of animation, teaming Godzilla himself with gentle deer Bambi.
We haven't quite kicked the compulsion to unite unlikely friends or foes on the big screen, gearing up not only for the King Kong/Godzilla crossover, but for a NickToons roundup as well. I have reason to believe more in said features than I might in, say, this year's TV film Lake Placid vs. Anaconda. Godzilla and Kong could make something altogether new of a once schlocky creature feature faceoff tradition, while the NickToons picture might be wise to take a few notes from form pioneer Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Neither one predicts certain disaster, but each predicts certain weirdness. As it should be.
Images: Universal International; New Line Cinema; Warner Home Video/WWE Home Video; Embassy Pictures