There might be no other movie franchise that has stacked up quite as many films as Godzilla and King Kong. Godzilla, which first hit theater screens in 1954, boasts 36 entries, while King Kong, which started way back in 1933, has 12 to its name. Between the two, that’s almost 50 movies!
But why would we associate both of these movie franchises together? Well, 2021 saw the release of Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) — a reboot of King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) — which marked the fourth installment in Legendary Pictures’ “MonsterVerse” franchise.
Ever since, these two prehistoric titans have almost always been considered rivals, which is why we’ve decided to rank the American-made, “modern-era” live-action Godzilla and King Kong movies, starting with Godzilla (1998) up until the most recent monster movie, Godzilla vs. Kong.
So here are all the Godzilla and King Kong movies ranked from worst to best!
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6. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
The follow-up to Gareth Edwards’ monster revival movie, Godzilla (2014), is one of those sequels whose creators appear to have taken onboard the major criticism of the previous movie, which was that fans weren’t happy that the titular lizard barely had any screen time. In other words, Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) is monsters galore, with plenty of Godzilla.
But as is the case with such sequels, other crucial things get overlooked, like characterization and storytelling. And these problems plague Michael Dougherty’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, even with a cast that includes Millie Bobby Brown (Emma Russell) and the MCU’s Vera Farmiga (Dr. Madison Russell). If it’s only monster action you’re after, though, you’re in for a treat.
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5. Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Intended to build upon the MonsterVerse first established in 2014’s Godzilla, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island (2017) is the second installment in a shared universe rather than a reboot of King Kong — whichever version that may be. As such, this is a completely different animal from what you’re used to when it comes to the story of the ill-fated Kong.
Skull Island is pure popcorn entertainment with some seriously impressive action sequences, but even with its cast of MCU stars — Brie Larson (Mason Weaver), Tom Hiddleston (James Conrad), John C Reilly (Hank Marlow), and Samuel L Jackson (Preston Packard) — there’s little in the way of interesting characters. Sadly, that includes King Kong himself (Toby Kebbell).
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4. Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Adam Wingard’s Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) is almost impossible to critique, a challenge that stems from the fact that this MonsterVerse entry knows exactly what it is. It’s wildly entertaining, totally unbelievable, and unapologetic stuff that requires the departure of common sense, and never once begs to be taken seriously. But its self-awareness doesn’t render it immune to its own problems.
The fourth installment in the series — which also has its fair share of MCU stars, Rebecca Hall (Dr. Ilene Andrews) and Brian Tyree Henry (Bernie Hayes) — is as packed with problems as it is with epic monster fights, from gaping holes in logic to generally being totally inconsistent with its own predecessors. Why, you may ask? Four words: spaceships inside the earth.
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3. Godzilla (2014)
From the director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) came the long-awaited Godzilla reboot, which promised to honor the original 1954 Toho classic. And indeed it does — it’s essentially a remake of that film, which means that, if you’re a fan of the original, you’ll probably love what Gareth Edwards brings to the table with this very grounded disaster epic.
However, while Godzilla looks frighteningly real, the fact that he becomes the “hero” of the piece makes him less, well, frightening. And like the other three installments, characters are a big problem, with MCU stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ford) and Elizabeth Olsen (Elle Brody) failing to shoulder the rest of the film after Bryan Cranston (Joe Brody) is prematurely disposed of.
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2. Godzilla (1998)
This might just be the most controversial ranking ever, because Godzilla (1998) is one of the most hated blockbusters from the ’90s, despite it being just as cheesy as most beloved films from that era, like Independence Day (1996), which was also directed by disaster movie master, Roland Emmerich. But the reason this film makes our second spot is simple: it’s huge fun!
We get it — it’s no masterpiece, and the humor often falls flat, but it’s an action-packed thrill ride with a Godzilla design that’s one of the best. The film also has a fun cast which includes Matthew Broderick (Nick Tatapoulos) and Hank Azaria (Animal), and like Batman Forever (1995), has two excellent tracks (“Come With Me” by P Diddy and “Deeper Underground” by Jamiroquai)!
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1. King Kong (2005)
No film is more deserving of the top spot than Peter Jackson’s King Kong (2005), the epic remake of the original 1933 film of the same name (there’s also a 1976 version starring Jeff Bridges — what is it with MCU stars and Godzilla/King Kong movies?!). In fact, the 2005 beast might just be the closest a monster movie has ever come to being a masterpiece, and it’s plain to see why.
Jack Black is terrific as Carl Denim, while Andy Serkis (surprise, surprise — another MCU star) turns in an excellent motion-capture performance as Kong (he also plays Caesar in the Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy, opposite Koba, who is played by fellow Kong mo-cap actor, Toby Kebbell). It might not be perfect, but like the 1933 original, Peter Jackson’s King Kong is a film for the ages.
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How would you rank all the recent Godzilla and King Kong movies?