“Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire” and Its Skar King Issue

A Showa Era Throwback Had Fun, But A Major Flaw Stands Out

Before I start, let me make something absolutely clear: I AM NOT COMPARING THIS FILM TO GODZILLA MINUS ONE! Don’t even ask. Also, SPOILER ALERT.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a polarizing film. Fans and critics are split because though the film isn’t story-driven or gives compelling human characters, fans were excited to see Godzilla and Kong in a tag team match against a foe billed as their greatest threat to date: the enigmatic Skar King, an orangutan like ape with a whip, and the gigantic Shimo, the largest villain seen alive in the Monsterverse and her ice powers.

To be absolutely fair, the film gives you the fight and has fun with the circumstances at Rio De Janeiro’s expense. Using buildings as weapons, mini Kong joining the fight, ice beams… The fights were inventive before Godzilla and Kong inevitably win. If you watch enough films, particularly the fight budget effect-driven films, you know the results are inevitable, so take it as it is. It’s a popcorn film, and if you and your friends want to see something mindless and watch giants clobber each other, this is the film for you. That isn’t a detraction either, that’s a good thing. We need fun films as much as we need thought-provoking films. You’re supposed to be entertained, and this one does that… Except for one major issue.

Skar King is NOT a Great Villain

Writing films is hard. Crafting characters to be used in films is hard, especially when your main characters are 3-400-ft tall super beings. Skar King in theory isn’t a bad villain. He’s 318 ft tall, agile, carries a pretty cool whip, he’s cruel, and controls a much larger Shimo, who towers over Godzilla. He’s an ancient threat who rules over the rest of Kong’s species with an iron fist, uses a crystal to torture Shimo to doing his bidding, and wants to take over both the Hollow Earth and the surface world. He has the story, the cruelty, and even the backup to be a great villain, but unfortunately, he wasn’t. So what went wrong?

First, nobody took Skar King seriously as a villain. Though large, he was smaller than Kong in both height and weight, and though size doesn’t matter, Kong easily overpowered him in their first fight, and Kong had taken on several other apes by himself before getting to Skar King, which didn’t give him a final showdown feel. There are other villains who were smaller throughout the Monsterverse, but they used either powers or numbers to consistently win, and in a film about a team up, this didn’t help stack the deck against Kong, let along Godzilla and Kong. By the time the showdown began, Godzilla has beaten Kong in several fights, he beat Skar King before, and now he’s superpowered and Kong has an armored super fist, so we didn’t think he’d win a fight. I will give the film credit in the fact that this is the first film to depict Kong fighting a giant ape, so it deserves that.

The Skar King also dealt with another setback: He was billed as the greatest threat, but was he? The Mutos in the 2014 film were parasites who could reproduce at a high rate and their EMP could weaken Godzilla’s atomic breath, so they had a much more real threat to both humans and monsters. MechaGodzilla was a rogue robotic monster who was more than enough of a threat for Godzilla and Kong to make peace and fight, and it was controlled by the next monster. King Ghidorah was an invasive species from another planet that was climate change in carnate and was Godzilla’s archnemesis that woke every titan on Earth to destroy it. Skar King on his own is hilariously outmatched by every other villain in the Monsterverse, but with Shimo, was still… barely threatening. Shimo alone was far more threatening, and I get that its the point, but the two together didn’t really pose Godzilla much of a threat. Skar King would’ve benefitted from either being earlier in the franchise or being more of a credible threat to the non-monster characters in the film. This takes me to my final point.

The Skar King never really interacted with the humans who were most vulnerable against him. In all of the films leading up, the human characters were placed in immediate peril with the monsters or were in the same vicinity of them. For the most part, the film’s central characters were nowhere near Skar King. They weren’t hunted by him, when he landed in Rio, the main characters weren’t there, and without a human face to put on the suffering, there wasn’t much of a threat to people. If Skar King used his cruelty on humans as a way for Kong to relent, this could’ve been something that added more character to a fleshed-out Kong, but there wasn’t enough interaction on that end.

For what it’s worth, the film is dumb silly fun. If you and some friends watch the movie to escape and watch giants pummel each other, this is definitely worth it. If you’re watching it to see the greatest threat Kong and Godzilla ever faced, you’ll be let down. The film goes as far as possible with what it has, and it should be applauded for having what’s the equivalent of playing with toy dinosaurs. That is meant as praise because they’re having fun, and we’re having fun, but Skar King left a lot to be desired.

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