The Best Scene in Godzilla x Kong Was Inspired by a 36-Year-Old Sci-Fi Cult Classic

“My inspirations also come from really unusual places,” director Adam Wingard tells Inverse.

Godzilla x Kong scene
The Inverse Interview

Two titans face off on a dusty battlefield. They both know there’s a more dangerous enemy out there, gathering strength with every minute wasted, but they can’t help themselves. Something inside demands: let them fight.

That’s what happens about two thirds of the way through Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire when the two monsters finally cross paths in the shadow of Giza’s great pyramids. But it also sums up an iconic scene from one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made: John Carpenter’s They Live. Turns out, that’s not a coincidence.

“My inspirations also come from really unusual places,” Godzilla x Kong director Adam Wingard tells Inverse. “I mean, my favorite movie is They Live.”

Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live.


For the uninitiated, They Live tells the story of Nada, a drifter played by professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper who arrives in Los Angeles looking for work. He then finds a pair of sunglasses that reveal the real world hidden beneath the surface of his reality, one in which a race of aliens live among humans and control us using subliminal messages. (Even if you haven’t seen They Live, you’ve likely watched the scene in which Nada first puts on the glasses and sees billboards reveal their true messages like “OBEY,” CONSUME,” and “MARRY AND REPRODUCE.”) Nada laters teams up with a construction work played by Keith David and joins an underground resistance determined to expose the aliens.

So what does this have to do with Godzilla and King Kong? According to Wingard, it all comes down to They Live’s show-stopping fight scene between Nada and Frank.

“The whole Godzilla and Kong clash in Egypt is inspired by the big fight scene between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David,” the director says. “The reason for that is, I just love how the best scene in that film is two heroes fighting each other, not a hero and a villain.”

(Fun fact, the fight scene in They Live was actually inspired by The Quiet Man, which features a drawn out fight between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, and was released in 1952, just two years before the original Godzilla movie.)

Let them fight...


While the Godzilla-Kong smackdown in New Empire is an epic battle that sends the ancient bricks of Egypt’s famous pyramids flying in all directions, They Live is a lot more brutal. When Frank initially refuses to wear the glasses, Nada tries to force him, leading to a five-and-a-half-minute back-alley fight where neither character pulls any punches.

Reflecting on the scene in 2018, David told Yahoo! that the reason it works isn’t because it’s so brutal but because it serves the plot. “It was really germane to the story,” he said. “It wasn’t gratuitous, and it just made sense.”

The same could be said of Godzilla x Kong. Kaiju movies can sometimes feel like an excuse to smash giant monsters together, but Wingard takes his time building tension until we know a fight is inevitable. When it finally does happen, it’s all the more satisfying.

Godzilla x Kong smashes into theaters on March 29.

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