Could King Kong Take Out Godzilla? A (Semi-) Scientific Inquiry

Ever since it was announced that Warner Bros. will be pitting Kong Kong against Godzilla, there’s been an argument that boils down to… why is this even a fight? Kong climbs skyscrapers, Godzilla crushes them. They might as well remake Bambi vs. Godzilla! Well… maybe. But maybe not.

First, let’s look at our competitors. They’ve met before, as you can see above. But that was in 1962, back when Godzilla was much smaller, albeit bigger than Kong. Sad to say, Toho more or less just fudged it and made them the same size while giving Kong electrical superpowers. It also declared King Kong the winner, in part because the studio wanted a spin-off franchise.

For our purposes, we’ll be using the most recent of both monsters, the Godzilla of the 2014 film Godzilla and the Kong from Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong. Neither are pushovers; he’s roughly 25 feet tall and weighs close to 60 tons. That said, Godzilla is 300 feet tall and weighs 164,000 tons in his current incarnation.

Pound for pound, it would seem like Kong will be a flat ape before the fight even starts. And we haven’t even talked about Godzilla’s nuclear breath yet! How screwed is Kong, right?

But don’t count him out yet. It’s not uncommon for a much smaller animal to take down a larger target. Admittedly, they usually do this with poison, which Kong lacks. But Kong has a much more important advantage: He’s a tiny, dexterous opponent fighting a big, slow one.

Godzilla, for all his power, might as well use a giant Hoveround; he only clears 18 miles an hour. Everything about Godzilla is slow; he moves slowly, his nuclear breath takes time to fire up, and he’s not exactly nimble, either. He has decent reflexes for a gigantic monster, but overall, Godzilla is a slow-moving tank who uses fire and weight to win.

Kong can easily climb Godzilla, and there’s not much Godzilla can do about it; he doesn’t have a ton of mobility in his arms, and Kong is faster anyway. Nuclear breath isn’t much of an advantage when you’ve got an ape trying to rip your face open or punching you in the throat.

The Big G’s final disadvantage: He’s usually not very smart. His go-to tactic is “Hit something until either it falls down or I fall down” and when he outwits an opponent, it’s usually because that opponent either has bad luck or is even dumber than he is. Kong is fully capable of using tools, forming tactics, and assessing a situation better. If Kong has an effective strategy, Godzilla may simply lack the brainpower to counter it.

Kong has his own issues: One bad choice and he’s testing his ability to outrun a death ray. And Godzilla undeniably has a lot of advantages. But size, as we’ve seen, isn’t everything, and if Godzilla goes in taking this fight for granted, he might just learn the hard way why Kong rules Skull Island.