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MonsterVerse Movies Ranked After Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

If you asked me about the state of Legendary’s MonsterVerse a few years ago, immediately following the release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, I would’ve told you the franchise was all but dead. Yet, here we are, in 2024, where Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire just stomped its way to box office glory with a massive $80M domestic opening and nearly $200M worldwide, setting up a unique cinematic universe that shows no signs of slowing down.

Reviews were mixed on Godzilla x Kong, with only 54% of critics awarding the pic a positive score on Rotten Tomatoes. Over 90% of audiences, meanwhile, gave the Adam Wingard-directed pic two giant thumbs up. So, where do we stand? Where does The New Empire rank amongst the other MonsterVerse titles? Read on to find out!

5) Kong: Skull Island (2017)

For all its lavish visuals and star power, Kong: Skull Island remains a middling creature feature that feels more obligatory than necessary. Released nearly a decade ago, I can honestly say I’ve never wanted to watch this one again. In fact, reaching through the credits, I completely forgot John C. Reilly pops up as a crazed American pilot who escorts our heroes, played by Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and Brie Larson, around Skull Island, where they battle monsters aplenty, and eventually come face-to-face with a very young King Kong.

Some action scenes pop and Larry Fong goes bonkers with his cinematography, creating a quasi-artsy blockbuster epic. Still, it all feels like a forced expedition—the film you must watch to get to the next movie. Honestly, you could probably skip Skull Island and head straight into Godzilla vs. King without missing much, which is why it is at the bottom of our list of the MonsterVerse movies ranked.

4) Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (2024)

At a certain point during my screening of The New Empire, I jotted down in my notes: Adam Wingard understood the assignment. Kong had just battled a sea monster and was now feasting on its entrails alongside mini-Kong. Until then, the picture had been an exciting series of mini-episodes propelled by a rail-thin but worthy plot that propelled everything forward with ample speed. Even when Kong discovers his species enslaved under the rule of a fearsome leader, Skar King, resulting in another CGI smackdown, I remained committed to Wingard’s vision.

Unfortunately, our bland human characters — led by Rebecca Hall, Kaylee Hottle, Dan Stevens, and Brian Tyler Henry — interfere with the story and kill all the momentum with a subplot involving random Mothra worshippers fixated on a half-assed prophecy involving Jia. A series of contrivances follow: a wounded Kong somehow stumbles upon our crew—how big is Hollow Earth?—Trapper happens to have a giant metal hand lying nearby, and the third act is succinctly laid out on a series of tablets for Hall to read. Eventually, Godzilla turns up, and everyone heads to Rio de Janeiro to fight.

Admittedly, the action is exciting, and Kong remains the ultimate, noble badass, but the human crew lacks intrigue, and the plot never settles on anything interesting. Ten-year-old kids will adore the massive production and likely skip over its flaws because shiny things go boom. Still, after five films, you’d think these overpaid screenwriters could have settled on an intriguing direction to take the franchise rather than merely relying on empty spectacle to sell the product. I mean, mission accomplished; New Empire is already a massive hit, so we’ll probably get another dozen or so before audiences move on to something else.

3) Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

Dumber than a box of rocks but more exciting than it has any right to be, Godzilla vs. Kong delivers everything you expect from a film about two giant titans vying for supremacy, even if it’s merely the latest example of CGI-infused style over substance. Sure, the human stuff sucks, and at least two-thirds of the flick are disposable nonsense packed with bland exposition, but when the action finally picks up in the third act with a royal rumble set in Hong Kong, you’ll be happy you stuck around.

Director Adam Wingard serves up a wicked collection of large-scale battles replete with mass destruction and enough drama to make us give a damn about the outcome. Godzilla vs. Kong might be nothing more than a mid-tier blockbuster, but it occasionally hits a few highs that make it worthy of a look, placing it in the middle of our MonsterVerse movies ranked.

2) Godzilla (2014)

Here’s the gist: you either buy into Gareth Edwards’ lavish homage to Steven Spielberg or walk out frustrated at the lack of Titan vs. Muto action. I fit into the former category and appreciate Edwards’ craftier approach to Godzilla despite its abundant flaws, bland characters, and conflicting tone. He goes for big-time dramatic stakes, focusing on the Brody family (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Carson Bolde), who are swept up in this calamitous situation, albeit from different parts of the country. The story follows a pair of vicious Mutos as they trek across the United States en route to a breeding ground in San Francisco. Godzilla rises from the depths to save humanity by taking them head-on, resulting in a rock ‘em sock ‘em battle for dominion that humans can only watch from afar.

Godzilla doesn’t quite hit the mark it’s aiming for, but it remains an enjoyable crowd-pleaser that doesn’t overload the senses. Following four bloated sequels, this one continues to look better and better.

1) Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

After hearing complaints about the lack of action in Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, WB overcorrected and released Michael Dougherty’s action-packed sequel, King of the Monsters. Here, Godzilla takes on a heap of new foes, including the fearsome Monster Zero, all vying for global dominance. Dougherty goes for broke, delivering the monster epic to end all monster epics, leaving the franchise with no direction to go. In between the non-stop assault on the senses lies a silly human story about a grieving mother (Vera Farmiga) who decides to destroy the world after Godzilla kills her kid. Naturally, her daughter (Millie Bobby Brown) and husband (Kyle Chandler) try to stop her alongside returning players from Godzilla (notably Ken Watanabe). Still, the tacked-on drama never quite lands and detracts from the shit we all wanna see.

So, why does King of the Monsters rise to the top despite featuring the same problems as other entries in the MonsterVerse franchise? I mean, this is the ultimate Godzilla picture. King of the Monsters gives fans everything they could ever want and more. It’s almost too much of a good thing. If you want a heaping dish of stylized monster carnage, this insane sequel should satisfy your hunger to the point where you’re too full for more.

Somehow, audiences turned their noses up at this chapter. Maybe it’s too long, dark, nonsensical, or loaded with Godzilla lore for the general public … or maybe they just really like King Kong. At any rate, King of the Monsters gave me everything I ever wanted out of Godzilla. Now, I’m drowning in the excess rather than appreciating it. King of the Monsters is peak monster mayhem, which is why it tops the list of MonsterVerse movies ranked.