- Chris Black serves as showrunner; Black and Matt Fraction serve as co-creators and executive producers.
- Produced by Safehouse Pictures, Toho Co., Ltd., Mikfred Criminal Masterminds, Chris Black Broadcasting System and Legendary Television,
- The series premiered in November 17, 2023 on Apple TV+ and consists of 10 episodes.
Synopsis: “Set after the battle between Godzilla and the Titans, revealing that monsters are real, follows one family’s journey to uncover its buried secrets and a legacy linking them to Monarch.”
Let’s see if I can do better:
Synopsis: “This series develops Legendary’s MonsterVerse featuring Godzilla and a world swarming with other kaiju like Kong. A scientist’s secrets threaten Monarch, an agency founded on the destruction of all kaiju.”
Okay. That was harder than I thought it would be. There was so much I wanted to add. I still think I put in too much. If you haven’t been keeping up with the Godzilla crowd:
“The MonsterVerse is an American multimedia franchise and shared fictional universe featuring Godzilla, King Kong, and other characters owned and created by Toho Co., Ltd. The franchise is produced by Legendary Pictures and co-produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and consists of five films and two television series. The franchise has received a generally positive critical reception and has grossed $1.955 billion worldwide at the box office.”
— Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MonsterVerse
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
This series featuring a popular science fiction backstory of a mysterious organization claiming to be tasked with destroying kaiju but appearing to be content to just watch kaiju without engaging them.
Let’s be fair. Fighting these things is out of the question. They are too large, too nimble, bloody hard to damage and if you have drawn a particularly short straw, they have extraordinary physical or energy manipulating abilities.
You know what I mean: The cosmic, atomic fire, god-breath, thing Godzilla does after he does the dorsal fin lightshow.
Anyway, the show features three young characters to become part of the new story of Godzilla who has become a senior citizen in my lifetime. They’re young, plucky, intelligent and related? Awkward.
Two young protagonists come to the attention of Monarch after some old notes get picked up by a fishing vessel many years later. Cate (Anna Sawai) and Kentaro (Ren Watabe) Randa investigate their father’s relationship to Monarch, the mysterious, powerful agency studying the Titans (the name they give to kaiju.) Kiersey Clemons plays May Olow-Hewitt, an American hacker and American immigrant living in Japan. She is an unknown element in the story, revealing almost nothing about herself.
So far, I am completely enjoying the series. We don’t get a lot of kaiju because this series wants us to focus on the people, their stories, their relationships after being exposed to kaiju. I know it supposed to be important that we get invested in Lee Shaw, played by Kurt Russell and his son who plays young Lee Shaw in this split period drama, building drama by showing how Monarch came to be and the history of the Titans and their effect on the world.
I Am Here for the Kaiju
I have nothing against humans but they’d better make themselves interesting, because I am not in the habit of caring about Humans in kaiju films. They tend toward disposability. If this show has any hope of keeping an audience, they are going to have to make the main protagonists of this series relatable and interesting.
The kaiju we have seen thus far have been impressive, imposing and almost believable. I am a CGI snob. I know. I was there for the weird camera angles and rubber suit days. I should be grateful.
The kaiju are great. You don’t understand. I used to sit and wait for weeks for these movies. Godzilla vs Monster Zero. Destroy All Monsters. Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster.
These were some of the worst movies on television, but my ten to fifteen year old heart enjoyed Godzilla for the vicarious destruction he brought to the world. They were willful temper tantrums which someone let me burn off some steam. Godzilla is a folk hero, and I understand.
But Did You Like It?
Overall, yes. I say if you are a fan of daikaiju, then even with all of the time spent on Humans, the kaiju make it worth your while.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, has a pacing issue, including some awkwardly slow spots. Fortunately, as the actors got into their roles, some of the strangeness passed. The back and forth might begin to annoy me, but I am liking the twin stories.
Monarch had better be doing something dastardly, something so terrible they deserve a visit from Godzilla. (Or insert some equally terrifying kaiju here.)
I hope they continue to develop new kaiju for the series. I remember being a kid cataloging each appearance and hoping to see them again in the next Toho adventure. I may have to create a new catalog, now with desktop publishing.
There are currently four episodes out so this might be a good place to set up camp while you catch up on Season 1, Episode 5, “The Way Out”, which came out December 8, 2023. There are supposed to be ten episodes this season.
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.