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The Showa King Kong (キングコング,   Kingu Kongu?) is a giant ape kaiju created by RKO Pictures that made his first appearance in a Toho film during the Showa era with the now classic King Kong vs. Godzilla.

Appearance

In all of his appearances, Kong mostly resembles a giant silverback gorilla, with either light black or brown fur. Kong varies between knuckle-walking like a real gorilla and walking bipedally and upright like a human, sometimes utilizing both forms of locomotion in the same film.

Roar

King Kong's roar in the Toho films was later reused for King Caesar.

In Go! Greenman, Gorilla's roars are reused Black King roars.

Personality

In all of his appearances, Kong is portrayed as a tragic and sympathetic monster. Kong lives a very solitary and difficult existence, constantly being attacked by the vicious giant creatures that live on his island.

Kong rarely attacks unless provoked, and is capable of causing mass destruction due to his size and strength, which causes human beings to fear and attack him. Kong has a soft spot for human women, and will do anything to protect a woman that he likes, whether it be battling against another monster or battling military forces.

Kong demonstrates at least semi-sapience in all of his film appearances. He frequently utilizes environmental objects while fighting, and learns over the course of a battle.

Origins

In King Kong vs. Godzilla, Kong instead comes from an island called Farou Island, where he is worshiped by the local natives as their mighty god. In King Kong Escapes, Kong is a legendary giant ape that resides on Mondo Island.

History

In 1962, RKO licensed the character of King Kong to Toho Company Ltd., who produced a crossover film featuring King Kong and Godzilla. Toho considered producing another King Kong film in 1966, Operation Robinson Crusoe: King Kong vs. Ebirah, but replaced Kong with Godzilla and produced Ebirah, Horror of the Deep.

Toho then co-produced another King Kong movie, King Kong Escapes, with Rankin/Bass the very next year. Toho's rights to King Kong expired shortly afterward, but they still used the character in their TV series Go! Greenman in 1974, under the name "Gorilla."

King Kong vs. Godzilla

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King Kong in King Kong vs. Godzilla

King Kong was discovered by an expedition to Farou Island, which was sent there by Mr. Tako, marketing executive for Pacific Pharmaceuticals, in order to find a legendary monster worshiped by the natives. The expedition only heard Kong's roar from the mountains, but saw the beast himself when he battled a Giant Octopus that attacked a village on the island. After chasing the octopus off, Kong began to drink jugs of the Soma berry juice that the natives had prepared, and fell asleep. The expedition members had Kong tied to a raft and taken back to Japan to be used as publicity for the company, but their boat was stopped by the Japanese Coast Guard, who informed Tako that he would be liable for any damage caused by King Kong in Japan. Suddenly, Kong began to stir and try to break free of the raft. The crew members opened fire on the dynamite attached to the raft, causing it to explode. Kong emerged from the water unharmed, and swam to the Japanese mainland. Kong rampaged along the coastline until he encountered Godzilla in the wilderness. Kong tossed a boulder at Godzilla, who responded with a blast of his thermonuclear breath, which singed Kong's fur and set much of the forest ablaze. Kong scratched his head and walked away in defeat.

Later, Kong arrived in Tokyo and easily passed the electrical barrier that had been used to repel Godzilla earlier, actually drawing strength from the electrical currents. Kong smashed several buildings in his path and grabbed a train, and while looking inside was smitten with Fumiko Sakurai. Kong grabbed Fumiko and dropped the train, then climbed to the top of the National Diet Building. The J.S.D.F. surrounded the building and loaded rockets with the Soma berry juice while playing a recording of the Farou Islanders' chant, hoping to lull Kong back to sleep. After a few minutes, Kong fell unconscious and slid off the building, allowing the J.S.D.F. to rescue Fumiko. The J.S.D.F. then formed a desperate plan: bring Kong to Mount Fuji so he can fight Godzilla and the two monsters will destroy each other. Kong was tied to several large balloons with indestructible metal wire and carried to Mt. Fuji. Kong was dropped onto Godzilla, and the two titans resumed their battle. Godzilla again claimed the upper hand, eventually battering Kong into unconsciousness and razing him with his atomic breath. Luckily for Kong, a lightning storm passed over head and Kong was struck by lightning, re-energizing him and surging an electrical current through his body. Kong grabbed Godzilla's tail, electrocuting him with his touch, and the battle raged on, this time with both combatants on equal footing. The monsters fought across the Fuji wilderness until they reached a cliff, where they tackled each other into the ocean below, causing an earthquake. After the tremors settled, Kong emerged from the water, victorious, and began to swim back to his home on Farou Island.

The King Kong Show

King Kong in The King Kong Show

King Kong in The King Kong Show

In 1966, Rankin-Bass acquired the rights to King Kong and co-produced an anime series with Toei Animation called The King Kong Show. This series featured Kong befriending a human family and protecting them from various monsters and villains. The success of the series led Rankin-Bass to approach Toho, who produced King Kong vs. Godzilla in 1962, and offer to co-produce a new King Kong movie with them. The resulting film, King Kong Escapes, borrowed several elements from The King Kong Show, including the monster Mechani-Kong, Kong's island home Mondo Island, and the recurring human villain Dr. Who.

King Kong Escapes

King Kong3

King Kong in King Kong Escapes

King Kong was discovered on Mondo Island by a joint expedition of American and Japanese scientists, led by Carl Nelson. When Susan Watson, a member of the expedition, was attacked by Gorosaurus, Kong saved her and defeated Gorosaurus. Later, when the crew tried to leave Mondo in their submarine, they were attacked by a Giant Sea Serpent. Kong swam out to sea and fought off the snake, allowing the sub to escape safely. New of Kong's discovery alerted the evil Dr. Who, who kidnapped Kong and placed him under mind control, forcing him to mine a radioactive element called Element X so that Who could sell it to the mysterious Madame Piranha. Nelson, Susan, and their other crew member Jiro Nomura arrived at Who's base in the North Pole and managed to free Kong, leading him back to Tokyo. Enraged, Who sent his robot version of Kong, Mechani-Kong, to Tokyo to kill Kong. Mechani-Kong kidnapped Susan and climbed the Tokyo Tower, and Kong pursued them. Kong rescued Susan and battled Mechani-Kong, and eventually managed to cause Mechani-Kong to fall from the tower and onto the street, destroying it. Kong then attacked Dr. Who's submarine in Tokyo Bay and destroyed it, killing Who and ending his evil plans. Kong then returned to Mondo Island to live in peace.


Go! Greenman

Ike! Kong

Gorilla in Go! Greenman

King Kong, now called Gorilla (ゴリラ,   Gorira?) due to the rights of the character for use by Toho being lost, also appears in episode 38 of the series Go! Greenman titled Greenman vs. Gorilla. In the episode, Gorilla was a creation of Tonchiki, created for the sole purpose of retrieving the blood of children in order for Maoh to escape the Underworld. After being teleported to the overworld and attempting to kidnap a young boy, Greenman was signaled to Earth by the child, where he did battle with the monster. As Greenman and Gorilla fought, Tonchiki drew a ring around them, turning the fight into a sumo match. Eventually, Tonchiki cast a spell on Gorilla, causing him to grow to giant size. Luckily, Greenman also grew and Gorilla was eventually defeated. The King Kong suit used is from 1967's King Kong Escapes. In the series, he was the thirty-ninth monster to battle Greenman.

Abilities

Atomic breath resistance

King Kong appears to be particularly resistant to Godzilla's atomic breath. He is hit by it multiple times throughout King Kong vs. Godzilla, and usually suffers little more than having some of his fur singed.

Durability

Kong also demonstrates durability when he is able to continue fighting against airplanes and even destroy some of them after being riddled with bullets.

Electricity absorption

In his first incarnation in King Kong vs. Godzilla, the mighty primate cannot be harmed by electrical currents, and instead, feeds on their power in order to revitalize or awaken him from a state of unconsciousness. He can also use those same electrical currents, whether they are man-made or natural, to allow him to release surges of electricity from his hands, a powerful tool against Godzilla.

Intelligence

Kong is also remarkably intelligent. He makes use of environmental objects like trees or rocks when fighting, and even when overwhelmed by more powerful or more numerous opponents he can think on his feet and find a way to win.

Physical strength

In both of his Toho incarnations, King Kong is an extremely capable melee combatant, using his large arms, powerful muscles, and mighty fists to strike fear in foes such as Gorosaurus, the Giant Octopus, and even Godzilla himself.

Radioactive immunity

The second incarnation of the Toho Kong who appeared in King Kong Escapes lacked these abilities but instead was immune to the radioactive Element X.

Trivia

  • King Kong was the first American-made monster to fight Godzilla in a movie, the second being Zilla, and the third being M.U.T.O..
  • According to an interview with Ishiro Honda, an early draft for the 1968 film Destroy All Monsters called for "all monsters" to appear. It's possible that Kong was to be among them, but it is unconfirmed.
  • King Kong was also supposed to return in the Heisei era, but Turner Entertainment Inc., by then the copyright owner of the 1933 King Kong film, prevented this by stating that Kong shouldn't be in a Japanese monster film, and even blocked Mechani-Kong's return in the Heisei series.
  • He is one of the many kaiju who share "King" in their names. Some examples are King Ghidorah, King Caesar, Red King, Kingsaurus III, Jumbo King, Live King, Grand King, Five King and Godzilla, who is called "King of the Monsters".
  • In the Toho films, Kong is much taller than the original King Kong, who was said to stand at 50 feet tall in the original 1933 film. Kong is approximately 145 feet tall in King Kong vs. Godzilla, and 60 feet tall in King Kong Escapes.
  • Toho's King Kong was the basis for the American/Japanese anime TV Show, The King Kong Show. Toho was not involved in its development, though they later collaborated with the show's makers, Rankin/Bass Productions, to produce the film King Kong Escapes, which adapted several elements from the show.
  • In King Kong vs. Godzilla, Kong's electrical powers are based on the monster Dr. Frankenstein made.
  • King Kong's suit in King Kong vs. Godzilla could have been modified from Snowman's.
    • The original 1962 King Kong suit would later be loaned to Tsuburaya Productions for the second episode of Ultra Q where he was given more pronounced eyebrows, a tail, and more visible ears, to portray the massive monkey, Goro.
  • King Kong is the first monster to defeat Godzilla and the first monster not to be killed by Godzilla.
  • King Kong's roars from the Toho films have been used for many other kaiju, particularly in the Ultraman series. Gudon, a kaiju from Ultraman Jack and King Caesar are among the best known of these examples. Kong's roars from the 1976 film were later used for Toto in Gamera: The Brave.
  • Some of the German releases of the Showa era films changed the names of various unrelated characters to King Kong. For instance, both Jet Jaguar from Godzilla vs. Megalon and Mechagodzilla are called King Kong in the dubs. However, unlike what many people believe, they aren't stated to actually be the real King Kong wearing robot suits or confusion with Mechani-Kong. The name 'King Kong' carried great marquee-value, and this is likely the reason why the German distributors changed the names around.
  • There were two known unlicensed Japanese King Kong films produced in the 1930s, Japanese King Kong and King Kong Appears in Edo. Though these films are not official King Kong films, they are notable for being two of the first ever tokusatsu/kaiju films ever made, predating Godzilla by two decades. Unfortunately, all prints of these films are believed lost and very few records of their existence remain.
  • In 1998 there was an unlicensed animated King Kong film made entitled The Mighty Kong, which was a family-oriented musical retelling of the original 1933 film. Because this film was not officially licensed, King Kong is never referred to by his full name in the film, only "Kong" or "the Mighty Kong."

References

  1. The Official Godzilla Compendium. Profiles of the Monsters; Page 131.
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