Kong: Skull Island hits theaters on March 10, 2017 and with each new trailer and promotional spot, a bit more of the plot comes into focus. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts and inspired by the classic 1933 film King Kong, Skull Island picks and chooses from the source material instead of playing it straight. Instead of focusing on a filmmaker with a vision of creating his masterpiece on the forgotten island, Skull Island concerns a military operation. Instead of a Tyrannosaurus rex, there are creatures inspired by the world of Miyazaki. But the gist remains the same: a group of people get in over their heads while exploring an ancient island full of monsters far higher up the food chain than humanity.
So where does Brie Larson’s character Mason Weaver fit in? We know from interviews with Larson that her role is that of a photojournalist. We know Weaver is a peace activist (the film is set in 1973) and has a “has a closer, more loving, and intimate relationship with Kong.” But the trailers and TV spots have gone out of their way to obscure Weaver’s role. In fact, since the first trailer dropped at San Diego Comic-Con, Larson has uttered two lines, both during a 30-second commercial released in January. In the latest commercial, she’s barely even present. Blink and you’ll miss her.
Of course, movie trailers are not always indicative of the final product and directors rarely have any influence over how their film is marketed. But with Brie Larson being almost surgically removed from the marketing, my biggest fear was she is being shunted into the role that Fay Wray embodied in the 1933 original: that of the imperiled beauty to Kong’s beast, especially given Larson’s assertion that her character Weaver has a special relationship with the king of Skull Island. With a few weeks left until the premiere, there’s still a chance Mason Weaver could get a character-driven TV spot, but barring that I decided to go straight to the source for an answer. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts himself.
In an exchange on social media over the weekend, Vogt-Roberts assure me that despite how she’s being sidelined in the ad campaign, Mason Weaver is no wilting hothouse flower.
“I can’t control the marketing but I can promise you she is not a damsel in the film.”
This raises the question as to why Warner Bros. is playing coy with Larson’s role within the film. (Full disclosure: When I pitched this article to my editor, he didn’t even know Brie Larson was in Kong: Skull Island, so effectively have they removed her from sight.) As one of the film’s headliners and one of only two named women in the movie (the other being Tian Jing playing San, another enigma of a character), you’d think Warner Bros. would have her front-and-center, especially after her Oscar win for Room and subsequent casting as Captain Marvel.
Are the marketers for Kong: Skull Island keeping the character of Mason Weaver shrouded in mystery on purpose? Or is this just another case of unintentional sexism in the Hollywood machine?