Matt Shakman On His Approach To Godzilla & Fantastic Four


  • Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is a series set after the battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs, exploring the aftermath and the revelation that monsters are real.
  • The show delves into the origin of Monarch and the years before Kong: Skull Island, with a focus on a multi-generational family drama and the dark truths about Monarch.
  • Matt Shakman, the executive producer and director, aimed to capture the feel of the 1950s and explore themes of trauma and legacy found in shows like WandaVision, while also paying homage to the iconic character of Godzilla.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is set in the aftermath of the destruction of San Francisco during the battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs. As the world reels from the revelation that monsters are, in fact, real, two siblings learn a secret about their father that shocks them to their core. As they dig deeper, they discover his connection to the very agency that has been hiding the truth about monsters from the world, Monarch. As they learn more about their family, dark truths about Monarch will come to light as well.

The series is set after Godzilla (2014), but also explores the origin of Monarch and the years before Kong: Skull Island. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters was developed by Matt Fraction and Chris Black, with Matt Shakman serving as an executive producer and director. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters stars a powerhouse cast led by Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell, Anna Sawai, Kiersey Clemons, Ren Watabe, Mari Yamamoto, Anders Holm, and Joe Tippett.

Related: Everything We Know Godzilla Did After Beating The MUTOs (& Before KOTM)

Screen Rant interviewed Matt Shakman about his new series, Monarch: A Legacy of Monsters. He explained how he wanted to capture the feel of the 1950s with the scenes set in the past and reflected on being drawn to series that delve into trauma. Shakman also shared his love for Godzilla and teased what he will explore in Marvel’s Fantastic Four.

Matt Fraction Talks Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters

Screen Rant: I love the show. I binged the whole thing in a day. It’s so good.

Matt Shakman: Oh, that’s great to hear.

Kong: Skull Island does a really good job of capturing not only a specific era, but a specific mentality of the 70s in America. How did you approach capturing the post-World War II mentality of America, not only with the military, but a Japanese scientist?

Matt Shakman: That’s a great question, and I agree with you. I think Kong: Skull Island is absolutely beautifully done from a stylistic standpoint, but also, as you say, it feels very true to its time. We certainly looked at a lot of reference movies made at that time period, photography, and then we were also looking at the MonsterVerse movies too. To try to figure out, because we were dancing in a timeline that had already been established by a couple of other films.

So we wanted to make sure that we were honoring not only the aesthetic of that time, but the aesthetic of the way the movie captured that time. So in the case of Skull Island, our show opens with an homage, like an event you didn’t see, and we hope that we honored their stylistic approach there.

I loved it. I actually, that was one of the things that was so cool to me was seeing this new side of Bill Randa in series. Can you talk about fleshing out his past while also setting up his decision making in Skull Island?

Matt Shakman: That’s a great question that would probably be better for Matt Fraction and Chris Black, who created the show. They have been working on this for years and working very carefully to build this mythology. But what I can say is that, that question is one of the reasons why I wanted to do the show. Is that I love Godzilla, I love these epic MonsterVerse films, and I’ve loved Godzilla, since I was a kid watching the original Toho movie with my dad, on the couch at home. But what I found so special about what Chris and Matt did with this show and the world that they were creating is that it was about humans.

It was about a multi-generational family drama, about legacy, about how the choices we make sometimes the mistakes that we make in the past have enormous ramifications for ourselves later in life and for our descendants. And so Rand is a part of that. Certainly, there are others as well. And so they managed to create all of these distinct, beautiful characters that have emotional journeys, and those journeys start to intersect in surprising ways and build upon each other. And so, the kind of puzzle of that, but also the messy human drama of that felt really fresh and cool. And then it’s set against this huge scope and scale of the world of monsters. And hey, I’m all in.

Definitely. I was curious, did you approach shooting the scenes that are set in the past differently than those set in the present timeline?

Matt Shakman: Yes, for sure. Certainly our lighting, our lenses, the way we were going to grade the color, and all of that would be different. Costuming and wardrobe, and all that has such a big factor in hair styling, all of that. But there’s a formality, I think, also to maybe how some of that was shot. I love when you’re shooting period things to shoot them kind of in the way that maybe they would have done them, then. It captures an authenticity and a spirit of that. If your camera’s zipping in and out and going all around in a way that they probably wouldn’t have done in the 50s, then Hey, you sort of break a bit of that reality.

monarch legacy monsters
Anders Holm and Mari Yamamoto in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Definitely. And then one of my favorite parts of the show is how it shows the post trauma in the world itself, as well as the characters. And I thought you did a really good job of that in WandaVision as well. Was there anything you took from that experience that you wanted to bring into Monarch?

Matt Shakman: It’s a great point and both shows are about trauma, about grief, about the weight of trauma and the weight of grief. And about love, too. In this case, it was so much about how the people we love can also disappoint us in big ways. And in WandaVision I think she was trying to figure out how you move on after you lose love and if you can at all. And so they’re linked in certain thematic ways.

And maybe that’s one reason why I was drawn to it is that I think those kinds of stories resonate with me. And the thing that’s different about Monarch is the fact that we’re going on a journey of discovery for these younger characters who were learning about their own past and about the people that they thought they knew. The sense of betrayal, this idea of secret lives, and who was my father. All of that is a different kind of messy family drama, but compelling, very compelling.

Definitely. And then can you talk to me a little bit about working with Kurt and Wyatt Russell to create this singular character that they’re both playing at different times in his life to make it feel consistent?

Matt Shakman: Yes, they’re amazing both as people and as performers, and they are wonderful actors, but completely different actors, which is so exciting. And so they, I think we’re quite taken, and I was taken with this idea of them creating a character together and sort of taking bits of each other’s approach and style and putting it together in a whole new character. A version of a character, that if they were just doing that character on their own, they might not have done in the same way. And so they would be at the monitor when the other one was shooting and sort of studying and sort of saying, Oh, well, I can take that bit of how he’s doing this.

And they would talk about, Oh, how can I bring a little bit of what Kurt does to this? Wyatt would say. And so there really was a constant conversation happening. And I think you feel that in the way the character is created and how it grows and changes over the course of the series. And it’s also just charming as a joint father-son project, to a father, son acting, family coming together and making something special together, it was just fun to be a bystander around.

I love that. And then can you talk to me a little bit about filming these really big Titan scenes, because, I mean, they’re not there. We don’t have actual Titans that you’re using to film.

Matt Shakman: We don’t no. It would be a lot cheaper if we did, maybe, although it probably costs a lot to feed them. But the tennis ball is what you have instead of a monster, a tennis ball and a long stick half the time, or a piece of tape on some telephone pole in the distance. And myself or somebody else on a microphone making monster noises or telling you where to look or what’s happening. But it is all about the imagination.

And there’s a lot of work that goes into planning these sequences before we actually shoot them, which allows us to storyboard them and create animations. And there’s a lot that people can look at before they shoot it. So the actors, the camera operators, the cinematographer, the designers—everyone can sort of gather around and kind of understand what the scene is and what’s going to be there eventually. And then it’s beautiful, because it’s like when we were kids in a sandbox, right? It’s not there, but it’s as real as anything because you will it in to being, right? You use your imagination to make it happen.

Godzilla in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

Definitely. And it looks great. So you definitely pull it off. What were you excited to explore with Godzilla in this series? Because he’s such an iconic character in cinema.

Matt Shakman: I love Godzilla. Just getting a chance to make scenes with Godzilla in them is just one of those bucket list things I get to check as a filmmaker. But I’ve loved Godzilla since I was a kid. It’s such an iconic character. It’s a character that will outlive us all and yet is a character that somehow allows you to put a lens up to the time that you’re living in, right? We’re able to look at the world we’re living in now, even though it takes place in all these different time periods, but it reflects what we’re thinking about now as filmmakers and what Matt and Chris who created it were thinking about as writers. Godzilla allows you to sort of tell these timely stories, even though you have this timeless character and so they come together in a really great way.

Definitely, and I’m gonna shift gears for just a second. I’m very excited for your Fantastic Four movie. I cannot wait for it. I’m curious. What themes are you excited to explore with that? That maybe sets these heroes apart from others in the MCU?

Matt Shakman: I love The Fantastic Four just like I love Godzilla. It’s funny, we have these characters that you discover when you’re a kid, and they just stick with you. Godzilla was one of them, and The Fantastic Four is another. I think I love the space race, Kennedy-era optimism of that world. The idea that we can solve all of our problems, that we can, through the right heart, the right mind, and the right technology, conquer any problem. It’s different. It’s different in so many ways because they are a true family.

Not a family you find along the way like the X-Men or the Avengers, but true family with all the messiness of a family like on Monarch. With all the love, the hurt, and the complexity of that. And also, they approach things with a sort of an optimistic and scientific approach that is very different from these other Marvel characters that I absolutely love, but how they solve problems is unique and I’m excited about it as well. I hope folks like it when we put it out.

And then what were you really looking forward to digging into with the lore of Monarch? Because we get to see a bunch of new Titans, we get to explore how it was created. What was it that really stuck out to you and drew you in?

Matt Shakman: Was certainly Godzilla. The minute you say, Hey, do you want to do a show with Godzilla? The answer is usually yes. Oh my God, of course! But then I read the pilot script that Matt Fraction and Chris Black had created together. And it was just such a surprising take on Godzilla. It was fresh. It was emotional. It spoke to me on so many levels as a filmmaker, too. I liked the puzzle box of it, but I also loved that at the heart of the puzzle was heart and an emotion. I liked that it was this multi-generational story. That it was about trauma. I liked that it was built for television, right?

It wasn’t saying, We’re gonna do the MonsterVerse on TV and that’ll be that. It understood that what we love about television, or what I love about television, I think, is characters and people that you root for, that you love, that you get frustrated with, and that you want to check in with week to week and figure out how they’re doing and where they’re going. And, you’re setting those characters against the huge stakes of a world of monsters. And the way monsters are working in the story is to affect those humans lives, to change their paths, and to make them reevaluate their priorities.

And that’s really cool, because a movie can spend two hours, and it’s awesome to see Kong fight Godzilla and to be up in the stratosphere with them. Like, yes, I’m there! Two hours, Sign me up. But for 10 hours on television, it’s a different thing, I think, that draws us in. It’s a different thing that sustains, and they had built something that had so much heart and also poetry to it. Really. And I think that was undeniably special to me.

I completely agree. I think this is the best pilot I’ve seen in a while. It immediately hooked me in.

Matt Shakman: Oh, that’s good to hear. Thanks.

About Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters


Following the thunderous battle between Godzilla and the Titans that leveled San Francisco and the shocking revelation that monsters are real, “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” tracks two siblings following in their father’s footsteps to uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch.

Check out our other Monarch: Legacy of Monsters interviews:

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters premieres globally on Friday, November 17 on Apple TV+.

Source: Screen Rant Plus

  • Monarch Legacy of Monsters Poster

    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:
    Apple TV+

    Monsterverse, Godzilla, King Kong

    Matt Shakman

    Chris Black, Matt Fraction


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