All 5 MonsterVerse movies ranked from worst to best

The MonsterVerse has brought two of the biggest cinematic icons back to the big screen, but which of its Godzilla and Kong movies are the best? How does the New Empire stack up?
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Over the course of the past decade, Legendary and Warner Bros. have been quietly building its MonsterVerse. It all started with 2014’s long-awaited Godzilla, which rebooted the movie monster’s US franchise and set the stage for a mighty new chapter in cinema. From there, the equally iconic King Kong returned to the screen in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, and in that moment a shared universe was born.

Two more movies followed suit (along with an Apple TV series) and now another is upon us. But what is it about the MonsterVerse that keeps people coming back? That’s a difficult question to answer as the franchise has had its highs and lows, but somewhere in there, there’s the reality of seeing two Titan heavyweights take on other monsters, the hope of a future for both of them, and the intrigue of the mysterious Monarch.

The spinoff series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters explored more of that backstory, and now Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire has expanded on the lore further. But how does the most recent installment size up to its monstrous predecessors? Let's find out, as we take this opportunity to rank all of the MonsterVerse movies.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, MonsterVerse
(L-R) KING GHIDORAH and GODZILLA in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. /

5. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

As a major fan of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, it pains me to place it at the bottom of this list. It’s such an entertaining spectacle of a movie, but it’s also the MonsterVerse film with the most issues, and that’s what ultimately prevents it from succeeding as hard as we hoped it would (though it is mostly successful nonetheless).

Released in 2019, it brought Godzilla back to the big screen after his showdown with the MUTOs. This time, however, he battled the iconic King Ghidorah, as the pair waged war across various parts of the world, with humanity unable to do anything but watch. Unfortunately, that’s where the movie struggled, as the human characters’ motivations were either non-existent or completely far-fetched. The great Vera Farmiga’s character was particularly unbelievable, and that made the script fall apart.

I’ll never forget the feeling of awe that overcame me when I first watched the trailer for King of the Monsters. It was art, and it made me so incredibly hyped for the movie. And as good as the movie was, it never quite matched the unbelievably high expectations set by that stunning trailer – which deserves a place among the greatest movie trailers of all time.

Still though, it’s a good time and the kaiju battles are, by far, its greatest aspect.

4. Godzilla (2014)

In 2014, the world witnessed the American Godzilla movie that audiences had been longing to see. While I personally love the 1998 Godzilla film, I can see why fans of the franchise wanted a more loyal adaptation of the character, and that’s exactly what they got in Gareth Edwards’ spectacular reboot.

It’s interesting watching this one back, because it doesn’t feel it was designed to be a MonsterVerse franchise-starter. There’s just something different about it in tone and visuals that is absent in all of its successors. That might just be Edwards’ incredible touch at bringing the grandeur of Godzilla and the subsequent destruction to life, but this one has a “cinema” quality to it that you just don’t see in monster movies.

Where it struggles, however, is its storytelling. Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson deliver strong performances, but their characters aren’t anywhere near as interesting as Bryan Cranston’s, which is why it was baffling that he was killed off so soon into the movie. It was his story, so Ford (Taylor-Johnson) just couldn’t live up to that. Throw in the fact that we kept cutting away from the monster fights to go back to the humans (Godzilla was only on-screen for 17 minutes, y’all) and the movie ultimately leaves you feeling a little short-changed.

Nevertheless, it’s a mostly-tight movie that successfully brought Godzilla to the silver screen and launched a franchise bigger than we all could have imagined. That closing shot of Godzilla heading back to the sea was also nothing short of cinema.

Godzilla vs. Kong, King Kong, MonsterVerse
(L-r) GODZILLA battles KONG in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action adventure “GODZILLA VS. KONG,” a Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures release. © 2021 LEGENDARY AND WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. GODZILLA TM & © TOHO CO., LTD. /

3. Godzilla vs. Kong

There was a constant criticism of the MonsterVerse movies from audiences who felt they were taking themselves too seriously, giving human characters little to do (and too much focus to hide that), and trying to be something they are not. Godzilla vs. Kong is the moment that they finally figured it out.

The movie is exactly what it says on the tin; a super-sized showdown between the two biggest movie monsters of all time. It’s also silly, outlandish, and just plain bonkers at times, and as a result, it’s bloody beautiful. Kong and Godzilla have bad blood, so they decide to have an all-out war to determine who the true king/god of the Titan kingdom is. However, their attention is turned when a new, more deadly threat emerges.

There’s a lot to love about Godzilla vs. Kong. After a bit of a slow start, it just goes all in on the ambitiously ridiculous story its telling. Some of the Titan mythology is better when you don’t think about it, but the rest of the movie is outrageously entertaining, overstuffed with the kaiju fights we had been waiting for. It’s also a visual effects marvel, and overperforms in just about every aspect. And, really, all it had to do was deliver; and it did, it really really did.

Godzilla vs. Kong saved this franchise by throwing caution to the wind and having the time of its life, and as a result, we got an even stronger sequel.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, MonsterVerse
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire © 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved /

2. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

After the unexpectedly monumental success of Godzilla vs. Kong, a sequel was greenlit that would bring the Titans back to the big screen. Was it necessary? Absolutely not, the previous movie was the endgame audiences were waiting for. But it was a pleasant surprise that could be fun.

That's exactly the kind of energy that Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire radiates, having an absolute blast of a time just because it can. It's because of that outrageously fun approach that we also have a good time watching it. It's the kind of film that justifies its own existence simply by providing us all with good old-fashioned entertainment. And I love it for that.

This time, Godzilla and Kong reunited to take on new threat the Skar King and their battles raises a lot of hell, that's for sure. But the good thing about The New Empire is that it doesn't make you wait endlessly for a larger-than-life battle that may or may not deliver; it offers up plenty of monster-mayhem throughout, with multiple super showdowns littered across its respectable two-hour runtime. This is a great pacing tool as it keeps the audiences satisfied by giving them what they want throughout while also holding onto the promise of something bigger in the end. The human characters are actually among the strongest in the whole of the MonsterVerse (second only to those in Monarch), which is also a refreshing change, allowing us to get invested in their emotional storyline.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is a kaiju movie made for kaiju fans and a reminder that sometimes all you need is good old-fashioned entertainment.

1. Kong: Skull Island

You might be surprised to see Kong: Skull Island at the top of this list, but even after an almighty showdown between King Kong and Godzilla, this movie remains king of the MonsterVerse.

This one premiered in movie theaters in 2017 and it was the first King Kong movie in 12 years. It was also the character’s official introduction into the MonsterVerse, serving as both a prequel and spinoff to Godzilla and setting the stage for their future showdown. Oh, and yeah, it’s also a pretty darn epic monster movie.

Whereas the recent Godzilla movies have overcomplicated things, Kong: Skull Island‘s strength lies in the fact that it keeps things simple. When the main characters enter and threaten the wildlife in Skull Island, Kong attacks. When those who don’t wish to cause it harm are in jeopardy, Kong protects. And when the Skullcrawlers attack, Kong fights. Maybe it’s the island setting, but the film just feels more ambitious and aesthetically pleasing than its MonsterVerse counterparts, and that makes it a much more compelling watch too, especially as it turns into a tale of survival.

The characters are also solid with strong enough motivations, particularly Samuel L. Jackson’s character. They aren’t all the most interesting, but it’s easy to feel something for them – which is more than we can say about most monster movies.

Kong: Skull Island was larger than life when it was released and it’s still larger-than-life today. The fact that it did all that by just being a damn good monster movie is pretty darn impressive in and of itself. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to rewatch it!

Every King Kong movie ranked from worst to best. Every King Kong movie ranked from worst to best. dark. Next