The King of the Monsters faces off against Kong of Skull Island in a showdown for the ages – with one epic trailer, Warner Bros. has us wishing harder that we could see blockbusters back on the big screen again. This isn’t the first time that the giant radiation lizard and oversized ape have fought, having previously faced off in 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, but this is the first time that the two will be depicted in full CGI, and it looks like epic, blockbuster fun:
The result of worldbuilding that began with 2014’s American Godzilla reboot, the new film is the latest entry in the so-called MonsterVerse, which seeks to bring kaiju to mainstream audiences. Where the 2014 Godzilla was strangely lacking in the “giant monsters fighting” department, the filmmakers made up for it with the sequel, which added Mothra, King Ghidora, and Rodan to the fray, while 2017’s Kong of Skull Island enjoyably reintroduced viewers to King Kong in a 1960s setting.
With the film set to make its bow on March 26, here are eight of the biggest movie crossovers that fans never thought they’d see. We’ve kept it strictly to crossovers that appeared in cinemas (apologies to everyone hoping the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover would be here) and only considered films that were never previously established to take place in the same universe (sorry, Avengers fans!). In any case, catching all of these should keep you busy until Godzilla vs Kong takes over our screens!
Space Jam (1996)
No matter what one says about this one, it holds a special place in this writer’s heart, having been the first film he ever paid to see on his own. At one point, Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny were the biggest stars on the planet and, after appearing in a couple of Nike ads together, someone, somewhere, thought the next logical step would be a major summer blockbuster. Sleazy space aliens want Michael Jordan to be the main attraction at their failing theme park, forcing him to team up with Bugs and the other Looney Tunes to win their freedom in a game of basketball. It makes little sense, but we’ll be damned if it isn’t an irony-free time capsule of 90s ridiculousness. Here’s hoping the upcoming LeBron James-led sequel will be even half as fun.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf-Man (1943)
As this list will show, the horror genre is, for whatever reason, ripe for crossovers, with the first being 1943’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf-Man, which took Universal Studio’s famous creature franchises and put them together. Here, the Wolf-Man (Lon Chaney, Jr.) is seeking a cure for his werewolf curse, when the doctor he consults with decides to revive Frankenstein’s monster. While critics didn’t think much of the pairing, the film gave new life to the creatures’ respective series, which led to further crossovers, with The House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945), before switching to comedy with the well-received Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).
Zatoichi and the One-Armed Swordsman (1971)
A rare crossover of the Japanese samurai (chambira) and Chinese martial heroes (wuxia) genres, Zatoichi and the One-Armed Swordsman took the most famous heroes (of the time) from each and pit them against each other. Shaw Brothers Studio star Jimmy Wang, who portrayed the title character in the first two films of the One-Armed Swordsman trilogy, stars against the legendary Shintaro Katsu (in his 24th turn as blind swordsman. A Japanese-Chinese co-production, the film is actually the second crossover in the Zatoichi series, with the character having crossed swords with none other than Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo the year before. In this adventure, the One-Armed Swordsman is framed for a massacre, leading to the required misunderstanding that kicks off any good crossover. Katsu and Wang are in top form, and two endings were shot, with the one most widely seen leaving it deliberately ambiguous on who emerges victorious.
The Lego Movie (2014)
The theme song says it all: “Everything is AWESOME”! This first-ever full-length Lego film brought the eponymous plastic bricks to the big screen in what could have easily been a 90-minute commercial, but directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street) ended up crafting an animation classic. The fun comes both from seeing the imaginative ways the film depicts children’s (and some adults’) play patterns, and the manner in which Lego’s various licensed franchises are represented. Everybody is here: Batman, Gandalf, Chewbacca, Shaquille O’Neal, Superman – characters from entirely different universes, all interacting in a way that kind of makes sense! Spawning a Lego Batman spinoff and a sequel, The Lego Movie is a timeless, whimsical adventure that anyone can enjoy.
Freddie vs Jason (2003)
Throughout the 1980s, Freddie Kreuger and Jason Voorhees were the faces of mainstream horror cinema, appearing in sequel after sequel (after sequel) of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, respectively. As their respective series began to wind down (we’re beginning to see a pattern here) at the box office, plans were set in motion to have the two share the screen. The showdown was teased at the end of 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, with Kreuger’s hand breaking through the soil to literally drag the defeated Jason’s mask to Hell. Production issues would keep the teased film from being released for nearly a decade, with the project finally being made by director Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky, The Bride with White Hair). While a critical flop, and arriving far too late to capitalize on either character’s heyday, the film was a box office hit.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
If you ever wanted to see Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny share the screen, or Donald Duck and Daffy Duck (no relation) arguing over whose speaking voice is harder to understand, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the film for you. And honestly, who could forget the animated knockout that is Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner, Undercover Blues)? Bob Hoskins (Hook, Danny the Dog) stars as Eddie Valiant, an alcoholic private investigator looking into the titular crime. When he gets too close to the truth, he’ll have to go to the one place he never wanted to return to: Toon Town. Blending then-cutting edge animation techniques and classic characters with a film noir murder mystery may not sound like they go together, but director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) not only accomplishes it brilliantly, he makes it look easy.
Sadako vs Kayako (2016)
We weren’t kidding when we said that horror was ripe for crossovers, but even we didn’t see this one coming. In a premise that sounds like a parody, a pair of teenagers attempt to rid themselves of Sadako’s curse by intentionally invoking Kayako from The Grudge, in hopes that the two spirits cancel each other out. Amusingly, the film was presented as an April Fool’s joke in 2015 before the studios involved announced that an actual film was set for release. Produced in an attempt to recapture waning audience attention after multiple sequels (six for The Ring, and eleven for The Grudge) and American remakes (three for The Ring, and three for The Grudge), the sequel never reaches the highs of either franchise’s earlier entries, but is a fun diversion for horror fans looking for something that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)
Delightfully silly, and definitely retro, there’s no denying the charm of 1960s kaiju action, when men in suits were the easiest way to portray two giant monsters trying to take each other apart. No miniature buildings go un-stomped as these titanic beasts slug it out for the title of King of the Monsters. For years, an urban legend circulated that different versions of the film existed, with the winner depending on which part of the world you saw it in, but the studio would end up confirming that Kong was always the victor, no matter where you watched. The film was a box office success, leading to plans for a sequel, which was then switched for a concept where Godzilla fought a giant version of Frankenstein’s monster. Unfortunately, that didn’t push through either, so Godzilla ended up fighting Mothra instead in 1964’s Mothra vs. Godzilla. While we doubt the new Godzilla vs Kong will be anywhere near as cheesy, one can’t help but dream of a world where Big G fighting Frankenstein’s monster is a reality.
Did we miss your favorite movie crossover? Tell us about it in the comments!