Godzilla vs. Kong answers the age-old schoolyard question of who would win in a fight: monkey or lizard? The new movie, now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, solves that mystery — yes, there is a definitive winner in these giant monsters’ brawl. However, Godzilla vs. Kong raises another, perhaps unanswerable question: What is America’s sweetheart Kyle Chandler doing in this movie?
Chandler, most beloved for his role as Coach Taylor in Friday Night Lights, has been in a Godzilla movie before, as the ostensible lead of 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters. He reprises this role in Godzilla vs. Kong, playing monster scientist Mark Russell and the father to Mille Bobby Brown’s Maddie Russell. However, unlike Brown, Chandler … doesn’t really have anything to do in Godzilla vs. Kong. The former goes on an adventure, while the latter is barely in the movie at all.
Because it won’t take you that long to get through, and because inquiring minds want to know, Vulture has compiled every single scene Chandler appears in, and rounded up every single line he speaks, in Godzilla vs. Kong. None of the scenes is longer than a minute. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t turn down a paycheck.
13:38 — Mark Russell has a conversation with Maddie while working at a Monarch-run relief station after Godzilla attacks Pensacola, Florida. This is Chandler’s Big Scene and he really shows his strengths as a thespian. Evidence below:
“That podcast is filling your head with garbage. You should be in school.”
“I don’t want you to help. I want you to stay safe. We needed a plan to keep peace with these things, and the best one we had just went down in flames. I don’t have any more — and the last thing that I need is to be worrying about you.”
“Because creatures — like people — can change. And right now, Godzilla’s out there and he’s hurting people and we don’t know why. So cut your pops some slack, would ya?”
1:08:25 — Mark tries to text Maddie again and learns that Godzilla is headed toward Hong Kong. It has been almost an hour since he last appeared in the film.
“Come on, Maddie.”
1:14:43 — Mark arrives in Hong Kong and says nothing as he’s informed of the situation. He sure does sell “looking confused and concerned,” though. That’s good facial acting.
1:16:51 — Mark observes Godzilla firing his atomic breath into the ground, says nothing.
1:31:17 — Mark sees Mechagodzilla emerge from Apex Cybernetics’ headquarters. This is a key scene because her verbalizes what we’re all thinking.
“What in God’s name is that?”
1:35:19 — Maddie tries calling Mark from inside Apex HQ.
“This is Mark.”
“Madison? Where are you?”
“Maddie? Maddie? Madison?”
1:41:20 — Mark tearfully reunites with Maddie (and Julian Dennison’s Josh) in the rubble of Hong Kong. Chandler surprises us by not saying Maddie’s name this time. Instead, his final line is a little joke.
“Shut up, Josh.”
1:44:21 — Mark watches Godzilla leave along with the rest of the main cast, saying nothing while conveying the sense of awe and wonder one might have while staring up at an empty space where a computer-generated monster will later appear.
Chandler speaks a total of 115 words in Godzilla vs. Kong. If you ditched some punctuation, you could fit all of his lines into two tweets. Now, Chandler is a very good actor, so he can do a lot with a little — and it helps that some of those words are sentences like “That podcast is filling your head with garbage” and “Right now, Godzilla’s out there and he’s hurting people and we don’t know why.” Godzilla vs. Kong is a knowingly silly movie, and Chandler has the awkward job in his limited screen time of being both the responsible straight man and the person who needs to deliver some charmingly stupid exposition. When Coach Taylor tells you we need a new plan, you believe it.
The textbook answer for why Chandler is in Godzilla vs. Kong is that he was Brown’s father in King of the Monsters and she still has a major role to play in the sequel. Chandler might not have much to do, but given how prominent his character was the last time around and his relationship with Maddie, it would feel a little odd if Dad was totally MIA. Sure, you could’ve easily written him out with a one-off line where Maddie mentions her dad’s working at a Godzilla-tracking site, or whatever, but why do that when Chandler could make a glorified cameo for continuity’s sake and get an easy paycheck while he was at it?
Plus, I would argue that we don’t really need any more Chandler in the movie. Godzilla vs. Kong is about Godzilla and King Kong, and the human plot is ancillary. The filmmakers behind the movie intentionally made sure everything the humans did was directly tied to what the monsters were doing. That was one of the many problems with King of the Monsters: It was under the mistaken impression that audiences really cared about Maddie’s parents’ fractured marriage. Giant monster movies can have strong human storylines — look at the original Godzilla and King Kong, or even the 2014 Godzilla, to a certain extent. Often, though, audiences are just here for the monsters, and Godzilla vs. Kong wisely makes sure that anything the people do is really just moving the monster action along in some way.
With that in mind, would Godzilla vs. Kong have really been improved if there was an extra five minutes of C-plot in which Chandler got increasingly worried about where his teenage daughter was or in which he was trying to solve some kaiju mystery? We love Coach Taylor, but come on. Do we love him more than we love seeing Godzilla fight King Kong? Do we? Really? Be honest.