Of the many titles on Adam Wingard's directorial resumé, there are no movies with an MPAA rating softer than an R. 2017's Death Note, 2016's Blair Witch, 2011's You're Next, 2010's A Horrible Way to Die... all R-rated movies. Now, he has wrapped production on his first PG-13 endeavor in the form of Godzilla vs. Kong which is gearing up to release in theaters and on HBO Max next month. For Wingard, this was an interesting opportunity to flex some new muscles, an exercise in limiting explicit violence or language but including two of the biggest and most iconic Titans going to battle with one another.
ComicBook.com visited the set of Godzilla vs. Kong in 2019 but Wingard was so deeply occupied with the work on set that day that his schedule did not permit for an interview on location. Instead, the director hopped on a Zoom call in February of 2021 with the production in his rear view mirror to talk about the experience and preview what's coming.
"The MonsterVerse version of Godzilla and Kong is just the fact that each one of these films by every director before me, Gareth Edwards, Mike Dougherty, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, each one, was able to kind of put their sort of stamp on these different films, and each movie feels like that directors film, and that was always the main attraction to do this series to me is that I wanted to be able to make, not just the Adam Wingard version of Godzilla and Kong," Wingard explained. "I wanted it to also be the most Adam Wingard movie that I can make, you know, so I wanted to get everything that I felt like represented me as a filmmaker into this, and all the things that made me excited about doing a monster movie in general."
Of course, to make the most Adam Wingard film possible, elements of each of his previous titles would have to shine through. "Part of that is just a tone thing," Wingard explains. "I like movies with a fun tone. This is the first PG-13 film I've ever done. I've never done a movie that wasn't rated R, with violence and had lots of swearing and stuff."
Wingard likens his experience to watching movies as a kid which an R-rating would have suggested was not intended for that age. "For instance, I would say to me, Terminator 2 is sort of like a gateway horror film, it's really made for kids' sensibilities, but it's rated R. It's very violent, but not so much so that you can't watch it as a kid. And so for me that was sort like... sci-fi was actually my way into getting into the Terminator, Aliens, and all those things. Those were the movies that kind of gatewayed me into horror, and this movie is kind of returning to that roots where the whole sci-fi thing and all that, that really kind of originally sucked me into wanting to become a filmmaker in the first place."
Though his films tend to fall into a horror genre in the past, Wingard says he always made an effort to combine some themes, genres, and tones. "Even the horror movies that I've done always have sort of an action movie kind of feel to it," the director explains. "I remember whenever I was doing You're Next, the DP I had on that film, he was not... he was a really artsy kind of guy, and that's why I brought him on it, but he was kind of a movie snob, and so he kind of didn't really watch a lot of like crazy action movies and stuff, and so the first movie I ended up showing him on You're Next, it wasn't actually a horror film. I actually showed him Face Off, which is coincidental, you know, cause all that stuff is coming out about the sequel now. But, you know, Face Off is the first movie I showed him because of the approach, the action, the slow motion, and the stylization of it and those kinds of things."