Godzilla X Kong Can Thank Avatar: The Way Of Water For Helping Make The Kings Of Monsters So Formidable

 Kong and Jake Sully.
Kong and Jake Sully.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The recently released Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire has made quite an impression on the movie-going public. Aside from notching some solid receipts at the box office, some consider it to be the best film in the MonsterVerse. The visual effects arguably factor heavily into why the movie – which was filmed for IMAX – is such a sight to behold. Its creative team relied on techniques used for past installments in the franchise, as you’d imagine. However, as it turns out, the flick also has Avatar: The Way of Water to thank for making the Kings of Monsters so formidable.

Wētā FX – the renowned, New Zealand-based VFX company that’s worked on countless blockbusters – provided its services for Adam Wingard’s GxK. The artists had quite a task ahead of them, as they had to help craft the looks of new characters like the villainous Scar King and the small, but tough, Suko. On top of that, Kong himself also needed a bit of an update from a visual standpoint. Motion-capture performance and keyframe animation techniques were once again used for this endeavor. Interestingly though, animation supervisor Ludovic Chailloleau revealed to IndieWire that a specific piece of tech used for Way of Water also proved to be invaluable:

We relied on the underlying muscle technology from ‘Avatar.’ When you want Kong to give an expression to that performance, you’re going to get a lot better results and faster. So going from a smile to a frown is more realistic because you’re blending together those face shapes better.

James Cameron has always set a high bar when it comes to visual effects, and that’s definitely been the case when it comes to his Avatar franchise. The original 2009 film was lauded for its VFX, specifically the implementation of motion capture. And, in 2022, the critically praised Way of Water was praised for skillfully taking advantage of more recent technological advancements in filmmaking. Keeping all of that in mind, it’s not all that surprising that Adam Wingard, Wētā and co. took cues from Cameron’s latest feature.

More on Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Kong stands roaring in front of lava, while holding an axe in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.
Kong stands roaring in front of lava, while holding an axe in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Review: Adam Wingard And Company Get Weirder, Go Harder, And Deliver Even More MonsterVerse Joy

Those who’ve seen the movie – and are well-versed when it comes to effects work – may be able to spot the enhancements in Godzilla x Kong right away. When seeing the film for myself, I was personally impressed with how smooth the animation for the kaiju characters looked. That’s always very important but especially for this particular film, which features a number of dialogue-less scenes that feature the monsters without the presence of humans. It’s also worth noting that these sweet effects look especially impressive when you see The New Empire in 3D.

Avatar and its follow-up also make for stunning three-dimensional viewing experiences at the cinema, and that’s certainly thanks to the vision of Jim Cameron and the efforts of countless VFX workers. Of course, such quality takes time to create, as pointed out by producer Jon Landeau, who spoke about the “epic undertaking” of making the upcoming sequels. With that, audiences still have over a year before the series’ third installment hits and even longer for the subsequent flicks. However, considering Cameron’s past work, it’ll surely be worth it.

It’s currently unclear when the next installment in the MonsterVerse will be with us, as they’re haven’t been any concrete announcements at this point. Considering the box office success of GxK though, it’s likely that one will happen at some point. And, if or when it does, I wouldn’t be surprised if it utilizes more tech from Way of Water (and maybe even the upcoming threequel).

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire – one of the marquee titles on the 2024 movie schedule – is now playing in theaters. You can also stream the Avatar movies now using a Disney+ subscription.