The Monsterverse Is Losing Its Biggest Director — But Nobody Panic

Adam Wingard, the wizard behind Godzilla x Kong, isn't coming back for a third movie. Here's why that's not the end of the world.

Godzilla x Kong
Warner Bros

The most unstoppable shared cinematic universe of the moment doesn’t concern superheroes, but instead, giant monsters who smash things. While film critics — or even fans of monster movies in general — struggle to take Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire seriously, the movie is impossible to ignore. So far, it’s earned $564 million at the box office, making it the highest-grossing Godzilla movie of all time and, at the moment, the second-biggest movie of 2024.

But despite this success, it turns out the next film in the series won’t be directed by the person who seemingly made Godzilla x Kong click. Adam Wingard — who also helmed the 2021 streaming hit Godzilla Vs. Kong — will not be returning to direct the next film in the series. For fans of his style of storytelling, this might seem very sad. But perhaps this is exactly what the Monstervse needs.

Adam Wingard at the premiere of Godzilla x Kong.

Amy Sussman/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Godzilla x Kong is certainly not the smartest, most nuanced take on its two titular monsters, both of whom have been bashing around in the zeitgeist since 1954, and 1933, respectively. Arguably, the big-screen monster team-up we’re getting with this movie is closer to one of Toho’s gonzo movies like Destroy All Monsters (1968), a kind of monster-mash version of The Avengers. In other words, the Wingard movies don’t really resemble the kind of contemplative, metaphorical films from which this chimera-of-a-franchise was built upon (although there have been plenty of instances of kaiju absurdity in the franchise’s 72-year history). With these last films, Wingard helped transform the Monsterverse into reliable popcorn movies that don’t require us to really reflect on the analogies and ruminative morality of the classic black-and-white versions.

This isn’t to say that the mainstream Monsterverse needs to move away from a blockbuster model. But Apple’s spinoff series Monarch also proved the franchise world doesn’t have to go big to make an impact. That time-spanning show has probably done more to expand the mythos of the Monsterverse than either of the Wingard movies — while barely even showing the famous monsters everyone loves.

A quiet moment in 2014’s Godzilla.

Warner Bros

The current Monsterverse began in 2014 with the Gareth Edwards-directed Godzilla. While slightly misunderstood at the time of its release, this movie has continued to age well, and next to the Wingard films feels more nuanced and restrained, in a good way. The period piece Kong: Skull Island was directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, while Monarch owes its vision to a team that includes Matt Shakman (WandaVision), Chris Black, and Matt Fraction.

What all of this means is that this film series does well when the directorial talent is varied. The smash success of Godzilla x Kong is certainly a credit to Wingard, but it also appears that his departure from the next film is simply a scheduling issue. (Wingard wants to take a break and return to his indie horror roots, while Hollywood can barely wait to get started on the next MonsterVerse movie.)

This moment could allow for another director to step into the footprints of these giant monsters, and, if we’re lucky, make a new kind of mark in a way we haven’t seen before. The idea of monsters like King Kong and Godzilla seems simple, but what the growing MonsterVerse proves is that there’s a lot of room for competing visions and a monstrous scope.

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