|“||An uncharted island? Let me list all the ways you're going to die. Rain, heat, mud, disease carrying flies and mosquitoes. Sure, you could load up on the atabrine for the malaria, but what about the other bacteria? And we haven't even started on the things that want to eat you alive.||„|
— Conrad to Randa and Brooks
James Conrad is a soldier character created by Legendary Pictures who first appeared in the 2017 MonsterVerse film, Kong: Skull Island, and returned in the 2019 Godzilla graphic comic, Godzilla: Aftershock.
|“||A British SAS officer sent to Vietnam to teach jungle warfare and survival techniques to American troops, as the war comes to an end, Conrad becomes something of a lost and disillusioned soul. Recruited as a tracker by Bill Randa, Conrad’s raw courage, survival skills and understanding of nature could represent the expedition’s best shot at making it off the island alive.||„|
— Warner Brothers website description.
|“||You came here looking for a tracker. Who, or what, am I tracking?||„|
— Conrad to Randa
Conrad’s father served the British army in Europe against the Nazis in World War II. However, his father's plane went down, and despite months of searching, his father was never found and presumed dead. Sometime later, Conrad would honor his father by becoming a soldier in the British S.A.S. and a specialist in recovering lost people.
Sometime in 1965, during the Vietnam War, Conrad accepted a Malaysian government mission to rescue Jenny, the seven-year-old illegitimate daughter of a Malaysian woman and a British embassy worker, kidnapped and held for ransom by a rogue Indonesian soldier unit. Unfortunately, Jenny and two of Conrad's five men were killed in an ambush while approaching the border. When Conrad examined the bullet hole in Jenny's head, he realized it came from a sniper, as if the mission was always doomed to fail. This mission was Conrad's last as a soldier in the British Special Forces. The failure marked the beginning of Conrad's disillusioned outlook as he lost trust in his government and country and himself. Ever since then, Conrad cautiously accepted freelance missions only when he felt the odds were in his favor.
|“||Kong was just defending his territory.||„|
— Conrad to Packard
In a bar in Saigon, witnessed by William Randa and seismologist Houston Brooks, Conrad quickly and effortlessly deals with two men at the pool table when they don't let him take the money he won. Conrad talks with the two men as Randa wants to hire him as a tracker for an expedition to Skull Island with a military escort in the form of the Sky Devils, a Vietnam War helicopter squadron led by Lt. Colonel Preston Packard and his subordinates, Major Jack Chapman and Captain Earl Cole. Despite the deal's sketchy nature, Conrad accepts the job with the conditions of more money plus a bonus if they make it back alive.
Conrad goes to Bangkok and boards the expedition ship, the Athena. During the mission briefing, he expresses skepticism when Brooks reveals they will be dropping bombs to map Skull Island's surface. Afterward, Conrad goes to the cargo hold to look at the expedition's seismic charges and meets war photographer and photojournalist Mason Weaver. She asks him why a "geological mapping mission" would need explosives and if Conrad believes it to be a geological survey. Then Mason tells him about meeting Packard and finding him to be wound too tight; Conrad says that's to be expected with a decorated war hero. He asks Mason why she's part of the mission, and she says the right photo can shape people's opinions, though Conrad thinks it can also win her a Pulitzer. Then she asks how Conrad got involved since he's a British SAS officer, and he tells her he's decommissioned and was paid to join the mission. Weaver tells Conrad he doesn't strike her as a mercenary, and he says the same about her as a war photographer, with Mason correcting him by referring to herself as an "anti-war photographer."
The following day, Conrad boards a helicopter being piloted by young soldier Reg Slivko with Weaver joining him. Upon arrival at Skull Island, Packard's men begin dropping the explosives to map out the island as Conrad and Weaver watch uneasily. However, as they are doing so, the air unit is attacked by Kong, who kills several military personnel and scatters the others across the island. Conrad and Weaver manage to survive the attack along with biologist San Lin, Brooks, Slivko, and Landsat employee Victor Nieves.
Together, with Conrad taking charge, they try to get to a rendezvous point at the island's northern end to meet a resupply team arriving in three days. They encounter a Sker Buffalo and find some ruins, where they find the local Iwi natives and meet an American World War II veteran named Hank Marlow, who spent 28 years stranded on the island. He reveals that Kong is the island's guardian and is worshiped as a god by the natives for protecting the island's inhabitants from many predators, the most dangerous of which are reptilian underground monsters that Marlow calls "Skullcrawlers." They had killed Kong's ancestors, leaving him as the last of his kind, and one killed his friend, a Japanese soldier named Gunpei Ikari. Marlow reveals that Kong only attacked the helicopters because their bombs caused some Skullcrawlers to awaken and to prevent them from awakening the largest of them, which he calls the "Big One." Then Marlow reveals that if anything happened to Kong, the still-dormant Alpha Skullcrawler would show up and, with the smaller ones, lay waste to everything.
As Weaver interacts with the Iwi natives, Conrad and the men help Marlow complete a boat built from parts scavenged from Marlow and Ikari's downed planes. That night, while Weaver is trying to take a long-exposure photo of the aurora, Conrad lends her his father's RAF lighter and tells her about his father going missing in World War II. The next morning, the group leaves the Iwi settlement and ride the boat down the river. They soon manage to secure communication with Packard's group and find their location via flare, but pterosaur-like creatures called Leafwings attack the boat and kill Nieves. Still, they manage to regroup with Packard, who insists on searching for the missing Chapman, despite Marlow's objections. Weaver insists they should listen to Marlow given his knowledge of the island; Conrad is also reluctant, but Packard ignores Weaver and convinces Conrad.
Marlow reluctantly leads everyone to the Forbidden Zone, a forgotten battleground between Kong's ancestors and the Skullcrawlers littered with the bones of Kong's family. The same Skullcrawler that Conrad quickly discovers devoured Chapman attacks the group, killing Randa and many soldiers. In the process, Slivko is rendered unconscious, and a cloud of toxic gas is unleashed, causing a flock of Leafwings to descend upon the humans. Taking Marlow's katana and dons a gas mask, Conrad enters the green gas cloud, slicing through Leafwings as he goes, and reaches Slivko. As Conrad rescues him, the Skullcrawler races toward them before dying in a flammable gas explosion triggered by Weaver using Conrad's lighter.
The remainder of the group leaves the Boneyard and goes into a forest, where Conrad reveals to Packard that the Skullcrawler killed Chapman. Despite this, a vengeful Packard still insists on going to Chapman's chopper's crash site to retrieve weapons from it and kill Kong, blaming him for his men's' deaths, ignoring the objections of Marlow and Brooks. When Weaver warns Packard that he will get them all killed, he aims his assault rifle at her face before Conrad gets between them and resolves the situation.
The two groups part ways, with Packard's group going to Chapman's crash site and laying a trap for Kong, while Conrad leads the non-military personnel back to the boat. Then Conrad decides to find higher ground to see the river where the boat is with Weaver in tow. By nightfall, they climb up a tall cliff and find the river. Then Conrad and Weaver see Kong approach them from the fog. Weaver steps toward Kong and touches his face, with her and Conrad mesmerized and emotional as they watch Kong become teary-eyed, realizing his true gentle nature. As Conrad and Weaver bond with Kong, Packard's group triggers explosions that sound in the distance, and Kong goes toward them. Knowing that Packard is luring Kong to his doom, Conrad and Weaver run back to the others. Conrad tells Brooks and San to head for the boat while he, Weaver, and Marlow, go to save Kong.
The three of them race to Packard's location at the lake, where he has incapacitated Kong with a napalm trap and has his men set explosives around Kong. Conrad's group arrives and initiates a standoff at gunpoint with Conrad and Weaver standing between the downed Kong and Packard, who's holding a detonator for the bombs. As Packard tries to justify his actions, Conrad tells him Kong only attacked them to protect his home. Conrad and Weaver persuade the other soldiers to spare Kong, but Packard refuses to stand down. Then, the Skull Devil, the largest of the Skullcrawlers, emerges from the lake. On Conrad's order, everyone flees except for Packard despite Conrad’s pleas for him to come with them. After Conrad leaves, Kong awakens and proceeds to crush Packard to death before he detonates the charges. The Skull Devil overpowers Kong and chases the survivors toward a marsh at the island's edge as dawn approaches.
Conrad tells Weaver to climb some tall rocks to send up a flare for Brooks and San to find them while he and the men buy her time. Cole dies in a failed suicide bomb attempt, but Kong returns and rescues the others. When Kong becomes entangled in the chain of a shipwrecked boat and about to be killed by the Skull Devil, Brooks and San arrive on the boat just in time to distract the giant Skullcrawler. When the Skull Devil turns its attention to the humans and comes toward them, Conrad lures it away by running into the marsh. After Kong frees himself, he resumes fighting the Skullcrawler and throws it against the cliffside Weaver stands on, causing her to fall into the bog as Conrad watches. Dealing with the Skull Devil, Kong saves Weaver from drowning and protects her from the Skull Devil as it tries to eat her. The giant Skullcrawler wraps its tongue around Kong's wrist and pulls his hand, with Weaver held inside, down its throat. Kong kills the Skull Devil by yanking his arm out and ripping out its innards.
With the Skull Devil defeated, Kong lies the unconscious Weaver down on the bank, where Conrad rushes to her and revives her. They share a final look with Kong before he leaves and embrace each other. She and the other survivors continue toward the end of the island on the boat. Though Conrad tells her the word will get out about Skull Island, Weaver assures him it won't come from them. Then Kong allows the remaining humans to leave the island as helicopters rescue them. However, soon after returning home, Conrad and Weaver are detained by Monarch. Brooks and San Lin greet them, saying Monarch has recruited the former two. Then they reveal to Conrad and Weaver that there are more creatures like Kong in the world, showing them images of cave paintings of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Ghidorah, and one depicting a battle between Godzilla and Ghidorah.
Conrad, along with Ishiro Serizawa, Vivienne Graham, and Emma Russell arrive in the Joint Region Marianas, Guam, shortly after the battle between Godzilla and MUTO Prime. They assess the damage and have a brief confrontation with Alan Jonah in the runway, though Jonah manages to escape.
- In an interview, Tom Hiddleston says Conrad's close encounter with Kong reveals his unconscious desire for redemption for his failure to save Jenny. Conrad's heart is reopened to wonder, innocence, and humility as he looks into Kong's eyes. Conrad starts his journey from a cynical place as a soldier looking for an easy paycheck, sleepwalking through his life. However, once he meets Kong, Conrad sees a glimmer of his former self, and he's fully awake again, and his survivalist skills truly kick in.
- Writer Dan Gilroy originally wrote Conrad to be "a guy whose unit was attacked by a monster in Vietnam, driving him to go in search of it, and instead of being approached at the bar and being given a job, Conrad would have wanted to be part of the mission."
List of appearances
- Kong: Skull Island (First appearance)
- Captain James Conrad. Warner Bros. Retrieved November 15, 2017
- Warner Bros. Pictures (February 18, 2017). KONG: SKULL ISLAND Production Notes and High-Res Photos. SciFi Japan. Retrieved December 22, 2017
- Cook, Tommy (November 7, 2017). ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Writer Dan Gilroy Reveals the Character Backstories Cut from His Script. Collider. Retrieved November, 10, 2017
|Kong: Skull Island|