Godzilla vs. Kong has a definitive winner, and unfortunately for many fans of the giant ape it wasn't exactly in Kong's favor. The film delivers exactly what the title promises in that Godzilla and Kong finally come to blows after four films of build up for the MonsterVerse, and there are a few clear cut victories and losses across their multiple fights in the film. Just as Godzilla proved through the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (and with the fact it still gets top billing), it's got its own domain to take care of. But that's not exactly a loss for Kong either.
While Kong took some notable losses during the events of the film when it came to actually fighting Godzilla, Kong got the moral victory. Godzilla vs. Kong essentially acted as a Kong: Skull Island sequel and set Kong as an underdog against this force of nature, and while he does lose, it's not whether or not he actually wins that matters. It's the fact that he keeps on fighting. If you'll notice by the final moments, the fight's really only over when Kong decides to stop fighting.
The opening credits of the film plot out the fights of the MonsterVerse thus far like a tournament bracket. For fans who have seen tournaments play out in other media like anime, wrestling, and more, the core story of a tournament usually focuses on one competitor's journey through the bracket. For Godzilla vs. Kong's purposes, it decides to focus on Kong because it truly is outmatched here.
Kong does indeed have the intelligence and ability to use tools and improvise, but this can really only take him so far against a being with literal nuclear superpower. This is proved to be the case in the film as Kong usually needs help from outside sources or tools to keep him in the fight. But physical dominance isn't the point even if the film makes it out to be that way through its presentation.
With the film following Kong through the finals of this tournament bracket, Kong's underdog story develops. We learn about his roots, true home, and the emotional core of the film is about Kong finding a place where he belongs. This build up also necessitates rooting for this underdog, and when he loses in the climax, it's the lowest point in the film. He even gets to have a heroic revival and return.
When these former rivals team up together to take on a stronger opponent, Kong cements his place on the top of the narrative. While he did lose, he secures the cool victory as the one who ends up being Godzilla's savior in the final moments. Godzilla finally acknowledges him for this effort, and when Kong drops his axe and concedes, this is a moral victory as the fight truly ends at this point rather than through aggression.
In this moment, it also kind of comes full circle. Godzilla's acknowledgement of Kong seems like the ultimate victory for Kong, who was just trying to prove that he was as much of a monster badass as Godzilla was. It was Kong's pride against Godzilla's force, so it's this victory of pride that really matters. It's why Kong even gets the final shot of the film as the ruler of Hollow Earth.
But what did you think? Who really won the fight in Godzilla vs. Kong Let us know your thoughts in the comments or you can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!