Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire Ending Explained: Home Is Where You Find It

Spoilers follow.

It's sometimes hard to see, given humanity's arrogance and egocentricity, but the truth is that we all live on a shared world. The process of sharing a habitat was never an easy one to begin with, but it's something that's only become more complex and vital over the past couple years, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing issues surrounding climate change. To put it bluntly: human beings, so used to being isolated, are barely able to co-exist with each other, so what hope do the rest of the species on Earth have?

The MonsterVerse series of films, Legendary Pictures' adaptation of the "Godzilla" family of characters as well as Kong, are, generally speaking, big-budget blockbusters featuring giant monsters smashing stuff up real good. However, they've done the responsible (and, in terms of drama, necessary) thing in keeping a foot in the real world, dealing with such weighty topics as nuclear proliferation, war, climate change, and the rise of AI through the lens of sci-fi and fantasy. The latest entry in the series, "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire," continues this tradition even as its titular monsters (and much more) shoot deadly breath at each other and/or smash rocks on one another's heads while destroying nearly every major city.

In the previous installment, "Godzilla Vs. Kong" (also directed by Adam Wingard, making him the first MonsterVerse director to come back for seconds) the titular Titans were at each other's throats given that both are Alphas and do not share territory well. Even though they teamed up to destroy the AI scourge of Mechagodzilla, they didn't resolve their differences so much as agree to separate themselves, with Godzilla remaining on the Earth's surface and Kong going to live where his ancestors once lived, the upside-down-y realm of Hollow Earth. "The New Empire" takes a look at how such peace can be broken due to the actions of a new faction that's as greedy as they are evil, and how these creatures, like us, just wish to find a corner of the planet that they can call their own where they can prosper.

The ugly tooth

Three years after the events of "Godzilla Vs. Kong," the MonsterVerse has reached a temporary equilibrium: the Titan-focused government agency known as Monarch has helped the cities ravaged by previous Titan fights rebuild, and the natural order has found balance with the help of nature's protector, the King of the Monsters, Godzilla. Big G is doing the good work, taking down any pesky Titan predators should they rear their heads, such as the spider-like Scylla, who menaces Rome, Italy.

Meanwhile, Kong is living not-quite-his-best-life in the realm of Hollow Earth. The giant simian is keeping the peace down there with a minimum of fuss, so much so that the Monarch operatives assigned to the Hollow Earth station are practically dying of boredom. However, Kong remains deeply lonely, believing that the rest of his race went extinct long ago. After he outwits a pack of ravenous wolf-like creatures (who are subdued thanks to a massive sinkhole that opens up beneath their feet — more on that soon), he thinks he hears Godzilla's roar nearby and goes to investigate only to find it's another, frog-like creature mimicking the sound instead. Sure, Kong and Godzilla may be natural enemies, but Kong's loneliness just runs that deep.

Unfortunately for the big fella, heartache isn't the only ailment he's dealing with; he also happens to be suffering from a massive toothache, his front fang having become infected. As both issues persist, Kong finds himself doing what he knows he shouldn't, making his way back to the surface world just outside a Monarch outpost.

Sending out an SOS

Meanwhile, Dr. Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) and her newly adopted daughter, Jia (Kaylee Hottle), the lone Iwi survivor of Skull Island, are enduring their own aches and pains. Ilene is attempting to keep the Titan-monitoring organization Monarch on track, making various public appearances assuring humanity that Godzilla and Kong are right where they need to be, and that no threats are imminent. To her dismay, a mysterious signal seems to be coming from an uncharted section of Hollow Earth, a phenomenon that she can't easily dismiss as it starts to affect Jia personally. If Jia wasn't having a hard enough time fitting into modern society while attending a Monarch school, she's beginning to have episodes where she is compelled to draw pictures of the signal's pattern. Ilene assures her daughter that no matter what happens, they'll figure this out together.

Desperate for answers, Ilene tracks down the conspiracy theorist and semi-famous podcaster, Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry), last seen helping take down Mechagodzilla in Hong Kong. Studying the signal's patterns, Bernie confirms that they're the same thing Jia is drawing, and presumes that the signal is an SOS. Bartering with Ilene to be allowed to visit Hollow Earth on their recon mission, Bernie flies with her to the Monarch base where Kong has emerged.

Worried that Kong's presence is what has made Godzilla wake up from his catnap in the Roman coliseum, Ilene calls in a favor from an old flame of hers to help with Kong's dental work: the daredevil veterinarian and Titan lover Trapper (Dan Stevens). Replacing Kong's infected tooth with a shiny metallic fang, Trapper is invited on the mission to Hollow Earth after Ilene realizes that time is of the essence — not only is Godzilla on the move for some reason, but if she doesn't investigate the source of the signal, the world's governments (who are eager to exploit Hollow Earth and its resources) may get involved.

An Iwi discovery

As Ilene, Jia, Trapper, Bernie, and the ornery Monarch pilot, Mikael (Alex Ferns) take a psychedelic journey into Hollow Earth, they attempt to keep a low profile and steer clear of the local wildlife, which includes some yellow-and-black-striped bird-like creatures who emit a deadly electrical charge toward anything that gets too close to them. Landing near the main Monarch outpost, they discover it's been totaled and the few personnel there slaughtered by something mysterious and large. Continuing to follow the signal, Trapper explains to a terrified Bernie that humans needn't worry about finding themselves sliding down several notches on the food chain because it's just nature finding a place for everyone, a very Zen philosophy that the militant Mikael does not share. Unfortunately for him, he finds himself at the end of that food chain pretty quickly, swallowed up by a tree beastie.

Venturing deeper into Hollow Earth, the gang soon finds an ancient temple that was clearly constructed by the Iwi, confirming that their culture began here and eventually ended up on Skull Island, meaning they may have been the first human society on Earth, ever. Following the temple's layout to a large, organic blob-like membrane, Jia opens up the barrier and the group discovers a hidden population of Iwi, protected from the rest of Hollow Earth by the barrier.

As Jia and the others explore the hidden kingdom, they discover that the Iwi communicate via telepathy and that they have access to a series of portals to Earth that emerge at key points on the surface, including Egypt. As Wingard states in the film's official press kit, this Iwi sanctuary is "our version of an Atlantean civilization," indicating that the Iwi were somehow involved with many ancient mysteries. After the Iwi Queen (Fala Chen) reveals to Jia that it was the Iwi who were sounding the SOS and that the girl is important to one of their ancient prophesies, Ilene begins to worry that she's about to lose her daughter in a most unexpected fashion.

Ape-pocalypse now

Kong's having some domestic issues, too, as he quickly discovers that he's not as alone as he initially thought he was. Venturing into the sinkhole created by his battle with those wolf-like creatures earlier, Kong discovers another large, uncharted area of Hollow Earth, which is populated by a hidden society of apes. At first, Kong encounters a couple of ape minions and a rambunctious little fella named Suko, and after Kong quickly dispatches the minions who attack him, Suko decides to buddy up with the big guy, showing him around this corner of Hollow Earth while Kong keeps some other natural enemies at bay.

Soon enough, Kong discovers where all these other apes and Suko have been hiding for centuries: under the dictatorial thumb of the megalomaniacal Skar King, who keeps the rest of the apes under subjugation. As the Iwi Queen reveals to Jia and the Monarch gang in the Iwi kingdom, at the beginning of the world there was harmony between the Titans, who were protectors of nature, the apes, who protected humanity, and humans. However, a revolt was begun by Skar King, who was driven by greed and a lust for power, beginning a war with the Titans in order to establish dominance on the surface. The war broke the alliance between species, and Godzilla banished Skar King and his apes deep into Hollow Earth, where they've remained ever since.

As Kong discovers, the Skar King is a bit like Kurtz from "Apocalypse Now," a militant general (complete with a bandolier of bones) hellbent on acquiring power. Although the brave Kong challenges the evil Skar, the King has an Ace up his sleeve: a special crystal in his possession allows him dominance over the captured Titan named Shimo, who has the power to turn whatever she breathes on into ice. It turns out that the incursion of Monarch (and Kong) into Hollow Earth has riled up the Skar King from his exile, and he aims to start the war with the Titans up again, a threat that holds weight after he uses Shimo to defeat Kong, the ape barely escaping with his life, his hand severely wounded.

Godzilla's world tour

Ever since he woke up in Rome, Godzilla has been on his own personal Euro Trip, making his way through the likes of Italy, Germany, and eventually the Arctic. Although Ilene earlier assumed Big G was headed after Kong, it becomes clear to her and the others at Monarch that Godzilla is actually gearing up for a rematch with Skar King and his followers. After all, Godzilla isn't going through your typical weight training regimen; he's hitting site after site that's rife with radiation, charging himself up like a battery.

Godzilla's ultimate destination is the home of the predatory Titan named Tiamat, and it's not just for a warm-up bout; Tiamat lives in a cave that's a huge source of radiation, power that Godzilla can siphon after defeating the monster, which he soon does. During the process of charging up in Tiamat's irradiated cave, Godzilla's usual blue spikes turn a bright shade of pink, a visual cue that not only indicates his new power level but also pushes "The New Empire" further into Showa-era homage, something Wingard was deliberately after. As he states in the film's press kit, the main aesthetic question he asked of himself and his collaborators was "'Can you make that Showa absurdity feel grounded, and can you make an '80s cartoon vibe feel grounded?'"

As it happens, Godzilla is not the only Titan in the mix when it comes to quelling the rise of Skar King. Jia and her Monarch pals discover that the Iwi prophecy she's meant to fulfill is that her return to her people shall signal the reawakening of a dormant Mothra, who's sleeping at the top of one of the Iwi temples in Hollow Earth. After sacrificing herself to stop Ghidorah during 2019's "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," Mothra is reborn, ready to put nature back into balance.

You gotta hand it to 'em

As Mothra and Godzilla gird themselves for the upcoming smackdown, it appears that Kong might have to tap out, due to being gravely wounded. He just barely makes it to the Iwi hideout with Suko in tow, and initially, it seems that there's not much anyone can do for him given their being unable to make it back to the surface in time. However, Trapper asks Ilene if the secret Monarch program codenamed "Project Powerhouse" had any materials stored at the Hollow Earth base, and Ilene confirms that they did. Trapper flies off to retrieve the highly fortunate piece of equipment that Monarch finished but decided to abandon given the risk it implied: a mechanical gauntlet/arm for Kong, intended to increase the ape's power level if a rematch with Godzilla ever took place.

Once Trapper installs the arm on Kong, the device doesn't just provide the ape with a heckuva new punch; it also injects medicine into his wounded hand, allowing him to heal as well as be augmented. Kong's new tooth and arm not only represent the symbiotic relationship humanity has formed with the lovable ape; they also allude to the ways science and modern medicine allow us to survive in the face of overwhelming odds. A revitalized and refreshed Kong is told by Jia that he needs to recruit Godzilla to take the fight to Skar King, and thus Kong uses one of the Iwi's portals to travel to Egypt, where Big G senses Kong and makes a beeline for him.

Sadly, old grudges die hard, and despite Kong's attempts at de-escalation, Godzilla starts a rematch with him amongst the ancient pyramids (which the two thoroughly destroy in the process of their tiff). In a moment deliberately reminiscent of John Carpenter's "They Live," the two heroes of the movie seem ready to tear each other's heads off. Fortunately, Mothra decides to make her presence known, calming the boys and reminding them of the real threat to all life on Earth. With that, the three monsters head back into Hollow Earth, just as Skar King and his army attack the Iwi kingdom.

When twilight dims the skies above

While Kong, Godzilla, and Mothra team up to bring the pain to Skar King and his apes, the Iwi don't merely wait on the sidelines. Instead, they start up a device that mashes the crystal pyramids at the center of their hideaway together, ancient technology that inverts the gravity of the kingdom, allowing the invading apes to be thrown completely off balance. Unfortunately, Skar King proves himself to be too cunning, his eyes fixed firmly on the prize: the Iwi portals to the surface world. Selecting one at random, Skar King and the enslaved Shimo make their way to Rio de Janeiro, promptly ruining the sun-soaked day currently being enjoyed by locals and tourists alike as Shimo shoots her icy breath into the atmosphere, bringing a sudden, cold, and unforgiving winter to Brazil.

While Mothra stays behind in Hollow Earth to mop up the ape stragglers and protect the Iwi, Godzilla and Kong (with Suko close behind) follow Skar King to Brazil. Kong challenges the King to a rematch, while Godzilla attempts to knock some sense into poor Shimo. The reluctant dynamic duo of Kong and Godzilla try their best, but Skar's possession of Shimo proves to be just too powerful for the two of them to stop. Fortunately, Suko pitches in at a critical moment, shattering the crystal that gives Skar King dominance over the Titan. The spell now broken, a rageful Shimo directs her beam of ice toward Skar King, freezing the ape almost entirely. Kong's revenge is as swift as it is devastating: he throws the Skar-sicle to the ground, then pounds him into thousands of little shards, forever ending the reign of the tyrant.

Proving himself once again as King of the Monsters in more than one area, Godzilla follows up the ape's defeat by putting right what Skar had ruined, shooting his atomic breath into the atmosphere and restoring the natural climate.

Wherever I lay my phone, that's my home

With the threat of Skar King now quelled, the Titans, apes, and humans all manage to not only find balance with each other, but discover where they're all meant to fit. A tearful yet supportive Ilene tells Jia that she understands and supports her if the girl wishes to remain with her people, and Jia happily informs her adoptive mother that her true home involves the two of them sticking together. Trapper and Bernie are accepted by the Iwi as heroes, indicating that integration and co-existence between the modern surface humans and the timeless Iwi is more than possible.

Meanwhile, Mothra helps restore the organic barrier surrounding the Iwi kingdom, not so much to keep them isolated but to protect them from the more vicious wildlife within Hollow Earth. Godzilla treks back to Rome, choosing to once again make the coliseum his bed. Most happily, Kong and Suko return to the one-time realm of the Skar King while consensually riding on the back of a free Shimo. Kong raises his fists in the air, shouting his triumph over the dictator and announcing his own reign, which will no doubt be a far more benevolent one. The once-lonely King is now lonely no longer.

There's some clever irony in the needle drops Wingard chooses to open and close the film with; the movie begins with Jim Reeves' "Welcome To My World," subtly indicating a selfish point of view while inviting a more diverse one, and closing the film with Badfinger's "Day After Day," a song which contains the lyric "Looking out from my lonely room," contrasting it with Kong's newfound companionship. The world as we know it contains multitudes, filled with beings who are neither wholly good nor wholly bad, and although some tip those scales out of balance (and thus need correcting), the majority of life on Earth is only able to exist thanks to everything around it. Co-existence isn't just aspirational, it's necessary for our survival, and if these giant, destructive creatures can inherently understand and accept that, perhaps we can, too.