What are monsters? Why do they exist? And what is their role in the world? AppleTV+’s Monarch: Legacy of Monsters needs to explore these questions and offer new insights into the nature of these mysterious creatures without cheapening the lore of this spectacular sci-fi world for the series to work. But will it be successful? Unfortunately, the MonsterVerse’s past movies say otherwise.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is a new Apple TV+ series that follows members of the organization Monarch as they encounter Godzilla and other monsters, known as “Titans”, over a half-century following the events of Godzilla (2014).
The series explores the MonsterVerse from a new perspective. Set in the years following the thunderous battle between Godzilla and the Titans that levelled San Francisco, the show follows two siblings, Cate and Kentaro Randa, as they uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch.
Monarch is a global organization studying and protecting monsters for decades. In the wake of Godzilla’s attack on San Francisco, Monarch is more important than ever. The world is now aware of the existence of monsters, and Monarch is tasked with keeping humanity safe from these powerful creatures.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is a unique addition to the MonsterVerse. It is the first live-action TV series set in the franchise, and it is the first time that we will see Monarch from the inside. The show has the potential to explore new corners of the MonsterVerse and to introduce us to new and exciting Titans.
The exciting new series is set to premiere on November 17, 2023, and stars a talented cast that includes Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell, Anna Sawai, Kiersey Clemons, Ren Watabe, Mari Yamamoto, Anders Holm, Joe Tippett, and Elisa Lasowski.
The MonsterVerse was conceived in 2010 when Legendary Pictures acquired the film rights to Godzilla and King Kong from Toho Co., Ltd. The studio then hired Gareth Edwards to direct a new Godzilla film, which was released in 2014. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $529 million worldwide.
In 2015, Legendary Pictures announced that they would be developing a shared cinematic universe featuring Godzilla and King Kong. The first film in this universe, Kong: Skull Island, was released in 2017. The film was another critical and commercial success, grossing over $566 million worldwide.
The MonsterVerse continued to expand in 2019 with the release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The film introduced several new MUTOs, including Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $386 million worldwide.
In 2021, the MonsterVerse reached its climax with the release of Godzilla vs. Kong. The film saw the two iconic monsters go head-to-head in an epic battle. The film was a commercial success, grossing over $468 million worldwide, even with Covid restrictions.
The MonsterVerse has been a commercial success, grossing over $2.3 billion worldwide. The films have been praised for their special effects, action sequences, and world-building. However, the franchise has also been criticized for its formulaic plots and lack of character development.
Exploration of the Series
The battle between Godzilla and the Titans had a profound impact on the world, and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters will have to explore the long-term consequences of this event. The series also needs to examine how the existence of monsters has changed how we view our place in the universe, but it has to do it in a substantial, meaningful way.
The primary way to do this is obviously through the work of Monarch, the mysterious organization which has been tracking monsters for centuries. The series needs to peel back the curtain on Monarch’s operations and reveal the secrets that they have been hiding but do it in a way that makes viewers feel invested in the overall story and not simply have an attraction to the show because there are monsters on-screen.
One of the biggest successes of the franchise is its special effects. The MUTOs and other monsters in the films are visually stunning and incredibly realistic. The action sequences in the films are also top-notch, and they feature some of the most epic monster fights ever put to film. The series should maintain this high bar.
Television shows usually do not have the same level of special effects, but the trailer for the series revealed terrific graphics and special effects. Apple TV+ seems to have invested enough in the series to maintain the high standards set by the films. Hopefully, the rest of the episodes will maintain this high standard.
Another success of the MonsterVerse is its world-building. The films have created a rich and complex universe of various fascinating creatures. The Monarch organization has the potential to be a focal point of the MonsterVerse’s lore and mythology, providing a fascinating lens through which to explore the world of the MonsterVerse.
The MonsterVerse Has a Human Problem
The Kaiju are the franchise’s focus; King Kong, Godzilla, Rodan and the rest are spectacular visual feasts, and it’s thrilling to see them battle each other. However, monsters fighting each other can only sustain your interest for a limited time. The lack of character-exciting stories for the humans in the MonsterVerse is a constant complaint from critics.
While the films have made plenty of money at the box office, a MonsterVerse film with better storytelling could make financial gains closer to a billion dollars. The highest box office in the franchise goes to Kong: Skull Island, which grossed $568 million. This substantial amount could climb far higher if greater attention were paid to the actors and their place in the story.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters will need to or instead be forced to invest in better character development and more exciting stories for the humans. Charles Nicholas Raymond from Screenrant highlights how the series is hemmed in and needs to focus on the humans, saying,
“A Godzilla movie can still work with boring humans, but a MonsterVerse TV show won’t have the same luxury. After all, there’s a strong likelihood of episodes where the MonsterVerse Titans won’t even appear. When that happens, Apple TV+’s Godzilla show must rely on its human heroes to maintain the viewer’s interest.”
Raymond also adds that developing better human stories will be a challenge, but Legacy of Monsters has significantly more time to develop its characters properly. The show’s premise is based on a family with ties to Monarch, thus allowing viewers to delve into the emergence of Titans and the human response to the creatures’ existence.
According to the show’s plot, the Randa family has a long history with the Monarch, and Cate and Kentaro’s journey will take them to the far corners of the world to find answers about their family’s past. Cate and Kentaro must be real characters, not props subservient to the Titans on-screen. Cate and Kentaro also need to have a strong screen presence and be able to share the screen with Kurt Russell and not be overshadowed or downplayed.
One way to make sure they have a meaningful character arc is for Cate and Kentaro’s desire to learn the truth about their father’s disappearance and their family’s connection to Monarch to be critical to the plot and use this to add depth to the story.
Charismatic Lead Character
The addition of Kurt Russell is a boon for the franchise. Not only did MonsterVerse lack proper focus on the humans, but it also needed a charismatic lead for their films. How much screen time Russell is given is in question, but he should receive the bulk of the focus without overshadowing the siblings, of course.
Monarch Legacy of Monsters is based on the siblings and their ties to Monarch, but that should only be the secondary focus of the show. Russell is as charismatic as they come on-screen, and he should lead most of the series.
The MonsterVerse has the most fascinating creatures to fill the screen but does not have an actor who can be the story’s focus. Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Preston Packard, in Kong: Skull Island, was second to Brie Larson as the lead in the film, but neither could adequately carry the film. Jackson was great but, unfortunately, was killed off too soon. Larson’s Mason Weaver character was good but needed to be more interesting for a film that needs a robust, charismatic lead.
The Jurassic World franchise is the closest to the MonsterVerse in comparison. Jurassic World focused their films on the lead characters much better than the MonsterVerse. The second trilogy of films starring Chris Pratt and Dallas Howard have charismatic leads, which gave audiences a balance between humans and monsters.
This balance means that Jurassic World can release films that reach over one billion at the box office. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters has Kurt Russell and needs to use his magnetism to lay the foundation for the films to tap into their human characters more often as the central point of the films.
The upcoming Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, releasing in 2024, could benefit immensely from the Jurassic Park treatment. Let’s hold thumbs that the leads, Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey and Rebecca Hall from Iron Man 3 and The Prestige, can have enough character development to balance the film’s storyline. Hopefully, Apple TV+’s Monarch series can kickstart a renewed focus on the humans.
Could the MonsterVerse ever rival the MCU? It might sound preposterous, but it could happen. The MonsterVerse has many monsters and Titans to choose from and could make tons more films and series if they play their cards right and invest in better storylines that balance spectacle with emotion and drama.
The MonsterVerse is a unique and original franchise, and the series should reflect that. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters should tell stories that are unexpected and thought-provoking and that challenge the audience’s expectations. Improved plotlines and better casting could help level the playing field with Marvel and raise the box office for the MonsterVerse significantly when more films are released.
The MCU can become confusing for ordinary cinema-goers who have to follow many films and television series to understand a film. Legacy Television should keep the MonsterVerse simple and not convulate the lore and mythology too much. A few central characters could be retained across films similar to the MCU, but this is optional. As long as Monarch is at the core of the franchise, a rotating cast of new characters could be sprinkled in here and there.
The MonsterVerse has its stars, the Kaiju, but the monsters have to share the screen with human characters for the franchise to begin to challenge the MCU. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters has the potential to kick the MonsterVerse into a higher level of storytelling, which could make it the next best franchise.