- Monarch: Legacy of Monsters adds depth to the Monsterverse by exploring the origins and aftermath of the Godzilla-led world.
- The show successfully brings back the dark and terrifying tone of the 2014 Godzilla reboot, tapping into the grim realism of a Titan-dominated world.
- Monarch: Legacy of Monsters expands the scope of the Monsterverse by featuring diverse international characters and settings, breaking away from the US-centric focus of previous films.
The Apple TV+ original Monarch: Legacy of Monsters significantly adds to the past and future of the Godzilla-led Monsterverse while also fixing two of the franchise’s major complaints. Revolving around the titular secret organization that specializes in studying and hunting monsters, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters offers a deeper look at the origins of the Monsterverse. At the same time, shifting the narrative fifty years later allows the series to focus on the aftermath of G-Day, the day Godzilla wreaked havoc in San Francisco (as detailed in Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Godzilla reboot). Drawing positive responses from franchise fans and critics, the show is already Monsterverse’s highest-rated title on Rotten Tomatoes.
While the 2014 reboot succeeded in bringing back Godzilla to Hollywood, its sequels and spin-offs have had a mixed track record. So, while 2017’s Kong: Skull Island fared well with audiences, Godzilla: King of the Monsters polarized viewers. Similarly, the thermonuclear lizard and giant ape’s anticipated clash in Godzilla vs. Kong was heavily entertaining but prioritized its over-the-top nature over any character building. Finally, with its ten-episode debut season, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters offers a new hope with its blend of monster action with human drama. And with a new Japanese Godzilla movie luckily released a few days before the pilot episode, the Monsterverse Godzilla show’s release is perfectly timed.
Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters Brings Back 2014 Godzilla’s Dark Tone
What set 2014’s Godzilla apart from his first Hollywood outing (the universally panned 1998 film by Roland Emmerich) was a real sense of terror. Even before Godzilla starts his deadly walk over San Francisco and encounters another MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), Edwards’s film played out within an unsettling, dim-lit visual landscape. The initial scenes with Godzilla also featured him walking among shadows, adding to the intentionally dark overtones. But no other Godzilla film within the Monsterverse could capture the same emotion, with Godzilla vs. Kong even bordering a campy, self-aware approach, complete with flashy neon lights and a face-off against Mechagodzilla.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is the second MonsterVerse show after the Netflix animated series Skull Island.
The ten-episode series, however, deliberately seeks out a darker tone comparable to the 2014 Godzilla reboot. The collateral damage and the human trauma caused by these monster attacks is captured in the first episode itself which finds a school bus full of young children meeting a tragic fate. This moment alone makes Monarch: Legacy of Monsters much darker than all of the previous Monsterverse movies. This happens not for shock value but rather to add a touch of grim realism to a Titan-dominated world. Japanese Godzilla movies have already begun exploring this grief through contemporary releases like Shin Godzilla. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters continues this trend.
Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters Is An International MonsterVerse Story
Another complaint about the Monsterverse that audiences had was its decision to keep the United States as the center of its world. From Independence Day to Godzilla’s Hollywood adaptations, all events of monster-driven crises somehow always ended up happening in the realm of America. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters broadens its focus beyond the US with a cross-country story that includes many Japanese characters. In fact, one of the main storylines includes Japanese siblings Cate and Kentaro’s pursuit of uncovering some secrets about their father which leads down a darker rabbit hole of kaiju like Godzilla. Another major character is the Japanese-origin Monarch member Keiko played by Mari Yamamoto.
While Kurt Russell takes charge of the cast as an aging military officer Lee Shaw (and Wyatt Russell playing his younger version), Monarch: Legacy of Monsters features a diverse ensemble with Japanese-origin actors Anna Sawai and Ren Watabe playing Cate and Kentaro. The Monsterverse previously did feature Japanese actors (most notably Ken Watanabe in the 2014 reboot) but with the action explicitly unfolding in Tokyo, the scope of diverse casting and characterization has expanded even more in the franchise. With the narrative shifting between 1950s-era Kazakhstan, modern-day Tokyo, and presumably other settings outside the United States as their search for answers continues, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is truly an international story.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
- Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell, Anna Sawai, Kiersey Clemons, Ren Watabe, Mari Yamamoto, Anders Holm, Joe Tippett, Elisa Lasowski
- Action, Sci-Fi
- Not Yet Rated
- Chris Black, Matt Fraction
- Streaming Service(s):
- Apple TV+
- Monsterverse, Godzilla, King Kong
- Matt Shakman
- Chris Black, Matt Fraction