King Kong is a giant ape, the last member of his species (Megaprimatus Kong). They are not native to Skull Island, but it is presumed that the species Gigantopithecus (from the greek word Γίγαντας Gigantas meaning Giant and the word Πίθηκος Pithecus meaning monkey), a prehistoric gorilla that was bigger than modern apes, came to the island via an ancient land bridge linked to Asia. This of course happened many thousands of years ago.
Physical appearance EditMegaprimatus' appearance was like that of an ordinary gorilla, except they were much larger and stronger, regularly growing to heights of over 18-25 feet. As in most gorillas, their fur was a dark black ,with the hair on the heads and backs of the older males turning greyish-silver,hence the term 'silverback'.
In the original film, the character's name is Kong -- a name given to him by the inhabitants of "Skull Island" in the Indian Ocean, where Kong lived along with other over-sized animals such as snakes, pterosaurs and dinosaurs. 'King' is an appellation added by an American film crew led by Carl Denham who captures Kong and takes him to New York City to be exhibited. Kong escapes and climbs the Empire State Building (the World Trade Center in the 1976 remake) where he is shot and killed by aircraft. However, "it was beauty killed the beast," as he only climbed the building in the first place in an attempt to protect actress Ann Darrow (Dwan in the 1976 remake).
Spoilers end here. A mockumentary about Skull Island on the DVD for the 2005 remake gives Kong's scientific name as Megaprimatus kong, and states that his species may have evolved from Gigantopithecus.
Filmography EditKing Kong (1933). The original, classic film, is remembered for its pioneering special effects using stop-motion models, animatronics and evocative story.
Son of Kong (1933). A sequel released the same year, it concerns a return expedition to Skull Island that discovers Kong's son. King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962). A film produced by Toho Studios in Japan. It brought the titular characters to life (the first time for either character to be in a film in color) via the process of suitmation. The Toho version of Kong is at least five times the size of the one in the original film. This is more than likely because of a significant difference in size between the 1933 King Kong and Godzilla (and, for that matter, all of the company's giant monsters), with Kong automatically rescaled to fit Toho's existing miniature sets. King Kong Escapes (1967). Another Toho film in which Kong faces both a mechanical double, dubbed Mechani-Kong, and a giant theropod dinosaur known as Gorosaurus (who would appear in Toho's Destroy All Monsters the next year). This movie was influenced by the contemporaneous cartoon television program, as indicated by the use of its recurring villain, Dr. Who, in the same capacity. King Kong (1976). An updated remake by film producer Dino De Laurentiis, released by Paramount Pictures, and director John Guillermin. Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin starred. The film received mixed reviews, but it was a commercial success, and its reputation has improved over the last few years. Co-winner of an Oscar for special effects (shared with Logan's Run). King Kong Lives (1986). Released by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG). Starring Linda Hamilton, a sequel by the same producer and director as the 1976 film which involves Kong surviving his fall from the sky and requiring a coronary operation. It includes a female member of Kong's species, who, after supplying a blood transfusion that enables the life-saving surgery, escapes and mates with Kong, becoming pregnant with his offspring. Trashed by critics, this was a box-office failure.
King Kong and Ann Darrow in the 2005 remakeKing Kong (2005). A Universal Pictures remake of the original (set in the same period) by Academy award-winning New Zealand director Peter Jackson, best known for directing the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The most recent incarnation of Kong is also the longest, running three hours and eight minutes. Winner of three Academy Awards for visual effects, sound mixing, and sound editing. Late in 2005, the BBC and Hollywood trade papers reported that a 3-D stereoscopic version of the 2005 film was being created from the animation files, and live actors digitally enhanced for 3D display. This may be just an elaborate 3D short for Universal Studios Theme Park, or a digital 3D version for general release in 2007.