‘Kong: Skull Island’ Reveals First Look at the Bigger, Badder Beast

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Warner Bros.

2017 is already shaping up to be more exciting for new blockbuster films than 2016, and one of the most intriguing titles is Kong: Skull Island, from Kings of Summer director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. We’ve already seen one impressive trailer for the film, which stars Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson and takes the legendary ape back to his titular home. That trailer offered a tantalizing tease of the creature, but today brings our first full look at the all-new Kong — still kind of the same as the old Kong, but definitely more ferocious.

Vogt-Roberts spoke with EW about his vision for reviving the classic movie monster, and “movie monster” was a term he used quite a bit in describing the inspiration and design for Skull Island’s beast — seen below in a new photo that debuted with the interview:

The director took much of his inspiration from the classic 1933 film, and says he wanted to create a monster that was godlike — both awesome and fearsome to behold:

…A big part of our Kong was I wanted to make something that gave the impression that he was a lonely God, he was a morose figure, lumbering around this island.

We sort of went back to the 1933 version in the sense that he’s a bipedal creature that walks in an upright position, as opposed to the anthropomorphic, anatomically correct silverback gorilla that walks on all fours. Our Kong was intended to say, like, this isn’t just a big gorilla or a big monkey. This is something that is its own species. It has its own set of rules, so we can do what we want and we really wanted to pay homage to what came before…and yet do something completely different.

There’s subtle nods. [The ’33 film] was black and white, so it’s really easy to assume that the fur on the monkey is black, but there’s actually a lot of forums and things that you read and there’s some real poster artwork where Kong’s fur skews more brownish, so we actually pushed his fur in more of a brown as opposed to the traditional black. It really was trying to create this feeling so that when these humans look up at him, they hopefully have a visceral response, saying to themselves, ‘That’s a God, I’m looking at a God.’

Vogt-Roberts went on to distance his film from Peter Jackson’s previous attempt to reboot the series and expresses a real understanding of and reverence for what makes Kong, well, Kong:

[Kong] was a movie monster, so we worked really hard to take some of the elements of the ’33 version, some of those exaggerated features, some of those cartoonish and iconic qualities, and then make them their own…We created something that to some degree served as a throwback to the inspiration for what started all of this, but then also [had] it be a fully unique and different creature that — I would like to think — is fully contained and identifiable as the 2017 version of King Kong. I think there are very modern elements to him, yet hopefully he feels very timeless at the same time.

The new Kong film is set in the ’70s during the Vietnam war, and as seen in the trailer that debuted over the summer, Vogt-Roberts was clearly influenced by other iconic films like Terence Malick’s The Thin Red Line and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.

Kong: Skull Island also stars John Goodman, Samuel L. Jackson, John C. Reilly, Straight Outta Compton’s Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell, Thomas Mann, Toby Kebbell, Shea Whigham and John Ortiz, and hits theaters on March 10, 2017.

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