Godzilla vs. Kong may be a gigantic movie, so it stands to reason that even the Easter eggs would be kaiju-size. The fourth (and, for now, final) film in Legendary’s MonsterVerse franchise brings the 2 most famous giant monsters of all time together for a city-leveling showdown. The movie, call at theaters and streaming on HBO Max today, is Godzilla and King Kong’s second throwdown. Because the pair originally fought in 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, it is sensible that 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong would feature many homages to those cinematic titans’ original clash.
Godzilla vs. Kong also has plenty of Easter eggs and winking references to the MonsterVerse movies that came before it: Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Like the monster researchers who work for Monarch in the movies, we’ve hunted down every kaiju Easter egg we could find. There aren’t quite as many as there were in King of the Monsters, and many of them are a bit more subtle than KotM’s shout-outs.
Godzilla vs. Kong’s intro credits are done in the same style as the 2014 Godzilla’s opening credits and King of the Monsters’ end credits. However, they’re not packed with nearly as many Easter eggs as the former’s end credits, instead mostly serving as a loose recap of the previous movies and a subtle preview of the action to come. That said, there are still a couple of Easter eggs worth noting.
The Redacted Credits
If you’re watching Godzilla vs. Kong in a theater, you’ll almost certainly miss the text that appears around the cast and crew’s names before it’s … “redacted.” If you’re watching on HBO Max and can pause, though, you’ll see that the censored words aren’t deep-cut Easter eggs so much as they’re just a bit of clever fun. For instance, director Adam Wingard’s text reads, “The history of titan wars will be explored in a film by Adam Wingard that sheds light on previously hidden truths.” Everything but his name gets blacked out — likewise with star Alexander Skarsgård, whose censored credit simply teases what his character will try to do in the movie. (“Alexander Skarsgård needs to prove the existence of hollow earth to salvage his tarnished reputation.”) So the credits are fun, but if you’re a die-hard Godzilla fan looking for obscure references, you can probably go easy on the pause button.
Randa’s 1973 Skull Island Mission
One card in the opening-credits montage is a picture from William “Bill” Randa’s 1973 expedition to Skull Island. Randa, played by John Goodman in Kong: Skull Island, first observed Kong on this mission, although he was eventually eaten by a Skullcrawler. At least his legacy lives on in the Monarch archives.
Toward the end of the credits, we’re treated to some stats for a few of the kaiju:Godzilla, Kong, the female MUTO from the 2014 movie, a Skullcrawler from Skull Island, and King of the Monsters’ Ghidorah. It’s debatable if the stats count as real Easter eggs, though there are some fun details: Godzilla has a walking speed of 18 miles per hour, and Kong is intelligent and can use tools like axes. Also, the three vanquished monsters’ causes of death are listed as “internal combustion,” “disembowelment,” and “atomic combustion.”
Titan Truth Podcast’s Logo
Brian Tyree Henry’s kaiju conspiracy-theorist character runs a podcast called the Titan Truth Podcast, and its logo looks awfully similar to one of the posters of the much-maligned ’98 Godzilla movie — a big Godzilla eye on a diagonal angle.
Denham University of Theoretical Science
We meet Skarsgård’s Dr. Nathan Lind while he is working in the basement of the Denham University of Theoretical Science, as he’s an academic outsider due to his seemingly crackpot Hollow Earth theories. The fictional university is likely named after Carl Denham, the character from the original King Kong (and Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake) who first mounts the expedition to Skull Island because he wants to film a motion picture there.
The Hollow Earth theory first gets mentioned in Skull Island by Houston Brooks, and he’s later vindicated in King of the Monsters. Godzilla vs. Kong takes the Hollow Earth concept — the idea that there’s a habitable world underneath our feet — to a whole new level.
Japanese actor Shun Oguri makes his Hollywood debut in Godzilla vs. Kong playing Ren Serizawa, the son of the late Monarch scientist Ishirō Serizawa (Ken Watanabe). The familial connection isn’t a big topic of conversation in the movie, although it’s a little odd that the son of the man who died blowing up a nuke to revive Godzilla is working for Apex Cybernetics to build and pilot a mechanical monster that can defeat Godzilla. Apple fell far from the tree, it would seem.
Mothra’s Baby Daddy
When Maddie Russell (Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, reprising her King of the Monsters role) browses the Titan Truth Podcast feed, we see that episode No. 244 is titled “Mothra Pregnancy Theory” and has the description, “So who’s the baby daddy?” Mothra sacrificed herself to save Godzilla in King of the Monsters’ big climax, but the credits hinted that there was a new Mothra egg. Is the implication here that Godzilla is the father? That would be a first.
Emma Russell: Villain or Savior?
One of the clippings Maddie has on her conspiracy-theory-esque map of Godzilla sightings (which is surprisingly light on anything that could count as a real Easter egg, somehow) is a headline about her mom. Emma Russell (Vera Farmiga) was behind the mass release of Titans in King of the Monsters, an act of ecoterrorism that led to a lot of people dying but eventually resulted in a largely harmonious kaiju coexistence, so who is to say if she was actually a villain or a savior?
The chains and irons Kong wears on his boat ride are very similar to the manacles he wore while being displayed in New York City in 1933’s original King Kong.
Going to Need a Bigger Ship
This could be coincidental, but when Godzilla first attacks the fleet transporting Kong, he gets the anchor of a bisected battleship stuck in his scales, causing him to drag the boat behind him as he swims through the water. It’s reminiscent of the ending of Jaws, when Quint & Co. are able to track the giant shark as he swims underwater by the barrels they have attached to him.
Carrying Kong via Helicopter
After Godzilla takes the boats out of commission, the humans transport Kong the rest of the way to Antarctica by carrying him via helicopter. This, as Wingard confirmed, is a direct homage to the old King Kong vs. Godzilla, which featured a scene in which a drugged-out Kong was carried into battle with Godzilla via balloon. What’s more, Wingard said he initially didn’t want to do anything quite so silly for Godzilla vs. Kong, but there was a gap in the script where they needed to find a way to get Kong from point A to point B. Turns out the old movie had the right idea — he just swapped helium for helicopters.
When Kong and his human tagalongs make it to Kong’s Hollow Earth homeland, we see a couple of new monsters, including a flying snake, big spiders, a chill-looking lizard guy, and some nasty cave pigeons. None of these are existing kaiju, and while there is some theorizing that they’re heavily altered versions of old favorites, it’s highly doubtful that’s the case.
Turns out Godzilla and Kong aren’t the only kaiju in this fight. Although it was largely kept secret prior to the film’s release, Godzilla vs. Kong marks Mechagodzilla’s MonsterVerse debut. Godzilla’s robotic counterpart is one of the most iconic kaiju out there, having appeared in three different live-action forms prior to this. The first Mechagodzilla, who appeared in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1973 and 1974, respectively), was created by invading aliens. The second, 1993’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, recast the robot as a human creation — an advanced weapon meant to fight Godzilla. The third version, also known as Kiryu, appeared in 2002’s Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and returned in the following year’s Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (There was also a Mechagodzilla, sort of, in one of the anime Godzilla movies currently streaming on Netflix and in Ready Player One, but the less said about them the better.)
Godzilla vs. Kong’s Mechagodzilla is perhaps the most similar to Kiryu, because that Mechagodzilla was a cyborg that was built around the bones of the original Godzilla, and it briefly went out of control when the destructive instincts in those old bones took over. This new Mechagodzilla is partially powered by one of Ghidorah’s skulls (more on that in a moment), and it goes berserk for bone-related reasons too.
Mechagodzilla’s Familiar Finishing Move
Mechagodzilla kills the Skullcrawler (and then later attempts to finish off Godzilla) with a move straight out of his organic counterpart’s playbook. Godzilla finished off the MUTO in the first MonsterVerse movie by blasting his atomic breath right down the MUTO’s throat, a move Godzilla vs. Kong’s opening credits refer to as “the kiss of death.” Mechagodzilla does the same thing here.
Kong Opens the Gate
When Kong arrives at the source of the energy in his Hollow Earth homeland, he must push open some gigantic stone doors in order to gain entry. The doors — and the columns on either side of them — are quite similar to the gate Kong pushed open back in 1933. Seeing as the MonsterVerse version of Kong hasn’t actually done that many things we’d expect from a typical Kong, seeing him push open a giant gate is a fitting little throwback.
Hong Kong Attacked (Again)
In addition to sharing half of its name with the Eighth Wonder of the World, Hong Kong also has the distinction of being a two-time victim of Godzilla’s wrath. Godzilla attacked Hong Kong in 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. (Fun fact: That’s the movie during which Godzilla “dies” because he’s basically having a nuclear meltdown, leading to the glowing, “burning” Godzilla that King of the Monsters borrowed for its grand finale.)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ post-credits scene revealed that ecoterrorist Alan Jonah (Charles Dance) had purchased one of Ghidorah’s severed heads. In Godzilla vs. Kong, we learned that Apex Cybernetics has seemingly acquired it and is using the innate “telepathy” in the skull to control Mechagodzilla. It’s not the first time that Ghidorah has been a cyborg, although previously he was his own monster. In 1991’s Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, invaders from the future unleashed Ghidorah on Japan. Godzilla is able to eventually defeat the three-headed monster, blasting off its middle head, but then he continues to go on a rampage. One of the visitors from the future, having had a change of heart, travels back to the future, finds Ghidorah’s corpse, and turns it into a cyborg version known as Mecha-King Ghidorah so she can use it to defeat Godzilla back in the past, which was our present. The futuristic tech from Mecha-King Ghidorah would help humanity build Mechagodzilla in the next movie in the series.
Kong Tries to Break Godzilla’s Jaw
The original ’33 Kong killed a T. rexby forcing his foe’s jaw open and breaking it. Many subsequent Kong movies have had him finish off a monster by using this same move, so it’s no surprise that he tries it against Godzilla in their fight. No luck, though.
Godzilla Chokes on an Ax
One of the more beloved moments from 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla occurs when Kong shoves a tree into Godzilla’s open mouth. It is very corny in a charming sort of way, and the new movie pays homage to this move when Kong stops Godzilla from firing off an atomic blast by shoving the handle of his ax right into Godzilla’s open maw.
Kong’s Revived by Electricity
In King Kong vs. Godzilla, Kong gets a little extra juice so that he has something that can compete with Godzilla’s atomic breath. After Godzilla knocks out Kong, a bolt of lightning strikes the big ape, reviving him and giving him “electric fingertips” so he can shock the hell out of the King of the Monsters. Godzilla vs. Kong doesn’t go that far, but Kong is revived when Dr. Nathan Lind uses a H.E.A.V. to defibrillate him — so he’s still getting powered up by electricity in a way.