A new King Kong movie has finally arrived and to be perfectly honest, I couldn't be more excited about it! Believe it or not, this is the 8th time our favorite giant ape is going to be taking central stage, and the overwhelming majority of his movies have been... Really, really bad.
Sure, the original is a cinematic masterpiece and one of the most important movies in history, and the Peter Jackson remake from 2005 wasn't too bad, but everything else ranges from bad to hilarious. I don't believe I need to remind anyone of the time when King Kong defeated Godzilla by shoving a tree in his mouth?
Yeah, one of the most recognizable cinematic icons hasn't exactly been treated with the respect he has deserved, which is why Kong: Skull Island's promise to make us believe King Kong really exists has me so excited! But that begs the question... Is it even possible to portray a creature so huge realistically, or is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts on a fool's errand? To answer that question, let's take a closer look at the anatomy of Kong and see if a creature this big could ever realistically exist.
The thing is, previous versions of King Kong aren't actually that big, all things considered. Kong from the original 1933 movie is only 25 feet tall - only slightly taller than a giraffe. At this size, he'd weigh less than 20 tons, which is nowhere near what the heaviest animal in the world (the blue whale) weighs. The original Kong isn't only a perfectly feasible creature - he would have been right at home a few thousands years ago, when even an animal as ordinary as the sloth was over 20 feet in length!
With that said, however, it bears saying that the Kong found in Skull Island isn't the same Kong found in the original movie. He's bigger - much bigger. According to an interview with the director, this Kong is going to be four times bigger than his inspiration, standing at 100 feet tall.
Of course, that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows that Skull Island is set in the same universe as the 2014 Godzilla movie, and that the two monsters will eventually clash in 2020. (Hopefully with a lot more success than they had in 1962.) Naturally, Kong had to be given a massive (tee-hee) upgrade in order to even stand a chance against the King of the Monsters, but at 100 feet, he's just 10 feet shy of the largest animal that ever existed in the history of the planet, the aforementioned blue whale.
While the whale might have Kong at a disadvantage when it comes to size, what about weight? Well, thankfully, this amazing infographic did the math for me so I don't have to, using the square cube formula to calculate the height/weight ratio of a chimpanzee and then apply it to Kong, ultimately deducing his weight. As you can see, the lord of Skull Island weighs over 1400 tons - over 10 times as much as the heaviest blue whale ever caught! For reference, the Empire State Building - the building Kong climbed in the first movie, and one of the top 25 largest and heaviest buildings in the world - weighs 365,000 tons. The building that Kong climbs weighs only 260 times more than Kong himself! That's insane!
Of course, you might have already figured out that it's impossible for a creature of Kong's size to physically exist on Earth. The biggest and most prominent problem is that he wouldn't be able to move - the ground would literally crumble underneath his steps. Sure, we're able to construct buildings which are far, far heavier, but we only do so after heavily reinforcing their base to ensure that the ground is sturdy enough to take all that weight, not to mention the weight itself is very carefully spread throughout the building rather than just focused on 1-2 spots (like, say, Kong's feet). And there's also the fact that buildings are completely immobile, while a creature like Kong would be constantly moving and climbing. Most terrain simply isn't fit to withstand 1400 tons of pressure, which is why the majority of heavy creatures live in the ocean, where they don't have to worry about that.
For reference, the biggest land animal that ever lived in the history of the planet only weighed about 84 tons (or 77 British tonnes), which doesn't even come close to Kong's weight. Another gigantic problem is food shortage. What would a creature that large eat? The infographic points out that he'd need over 50 tons of food a day to survive. Where would he be getting that? Certainly not some tiny, undiscovered island in the middle of nowhere! To satisfy his appetite, he'd need to eat between 7 and 8 elephants every single day. There is literally not enough food around to give him the nutrition he'd need to keep going. Last, but not least, he'd also be faced with the same problem that hugely contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs and other huge animals - most of their bodies simply weren't equipped to handle their size, with hearts too weak for the gigantic amounts of blood running through their veins and muscles not strong enough to fully support their weight. If Kong somehow did retain the agility and strength of an average chimpanzee, like we see in the trailers for the movie, his body would eventually burn out and he would live a very short life.
Skull Island's Kong just isn't physically possible in the real world. But then again, maybe he doesn't need to be. After all, we're talking about a movie about a giant ape that serves as a set-up for another movie where he punches a giant lizard. It's admirable that Jordan Vogt-Roberts has put so much effort into trying to depict a realistic portrayal of his titular character, but at the end of the day, we shouldn't forget the golden rule of cinema: "It's just a movie". That doesn't mean that we should be dismissive of a narrative just because it's fiction, but rather, that we should be glad it's presented with a world that makes the impossible possible, where the laws of physics don't apply, where the imagination is the only limit. And I don't know about you, but I'd certainly prefer to see a larger-than-life Kong that couldn't possibly exist in the real world than a 20-foot one that could. Wouldn't you?
Stay up to date with the latest news on Jordan Vogt-Roberts's Kong: Skull Island movie by liking Scified on Facebook and by following us on Twitter and Instagram! Also, consider subscribing your email to our Kong: Skull Island blog for instant notifications of when new posts are made!