Kong: Skull Island marks the fourth time an American film studio has told the Eighth Wonder of the World’s story, and the first to deviate in a significant way from the adventure laid out in the 1933 original. But fans of the previous iterations won’t be starting from square one, either, as there are plenty of similar plot points and references back to the first three versions.
Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts turns what was a loose showbiz allegory in ‘33 and 2005, and a zeitgeisty condemnation of oil companies in 1976, into a story about scientists and soldiers who wind up on the mysterious Skull Island.
Once they get there, though, the plot gets more similar — there are villagers, a giant wall containing the god-gorilla, and arguments about whether to turn back (obviously the rational people lose). And keen eye can spot a number of easter eggs. Here’s a look at the biggest King Kong callbacks in Skull Island.
Warning: There are some light spoilers below
Kong may have been king, but he was never the only incredible animal on Skull Island. This new movie features all sorts of original new creatures, but Vogt-Roberts and co. are careful to pay tribute to the dinosaurs that populated the island in the previous movies. The first movie featured amazing stop-motion animation from the legendary Willis O’Brien, and though all the creatures are now rendered in CGI, the tribute works well.
Ripping an Enemy’s Jaw
More dinosaur references: In the original movie, Kong ends his final battle with a nasty T-Rex by brutally ripping open its jaw and thereby breaking its neck. In the 1976 version, he does the same thing to a snake. We won’t give away which creature gets the mandible abuse this time, but we can guarantee it’ll be worth the wait.
All Tied Up
Kong never makes the trip to New York in this iteration of his story, but that doesn’t mean the humans he encounters aren’t dumb enough to think some metal chains will be able to contain his rage. When will people realize that you just can’t tie up a 100-foot gorilla?
Lifting the Blonde
Brie Larson’s character, Mason Weaver, is nothing like the women that came before her in the Kong canon. She’s self-possessed, not ditzy; confident, not desperate; and a master of her own fate, not just along for the ride. But King Kong is still a thousand times her size, so there’s no fighting it when he decides to hoist her into the air, rendering her for at least that moment as helpless as Faye Wray’s Ann Darrow in the original.
Even though machine-gun wielding airplanes eventually kill Kong in the original film, helicopters attack him in this one. In the original, the planes are deadly, but in Kong: Skull Island, he treats the copters like playthings, and they aren’t actually able to kill him. Maybe if Samuel L. Jackson had been piloting airplanes instead of copters, they would have had a better shot.