Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse just received a new entry in the form of the Apple TV+ series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. The show follows the events of Godzilla, the Gareth Edwards-directed Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Cranston-starrer that kickstarted the MonsterVerse.
The show has been widely appreciated since the release of its first two episodes, with praise for the writing, direction, and performances of stars Kurt and Wyatt Russell. Co-creators Chris Black and Matt Fraction revealed in an interview that they had to avoid showing too much of the monster battles as they could not compete with the blockbuster films.
Production Of Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters
Despite the lackluster performance of the 1998 adaptation of Godzilla, an American adaptation of the legendary kaiju epic was being considered for a reboot. The rights of the franchise as transferred to Legendary Pictures, who hoped to create a shared cinematic universe similar to the MCU. The first film in pursuit of the universe was Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla.
The 2014 film was a surprise hit and prompted the production to kickstart its MonsterVerse with more films and TV shows. The spin-off Kong: Skull Island was the first entry after the 2014 film, which was followed by Godzilla: King of Monsters. Then came the team-up film Godzilla vs. Kong, which was a huge hit, earning over $470 million despite a simultaneous streaming release.
On the TV front, the makers released an anime-inspired TV show called Skull Island, which debuted on Netflix. A live-action MonsterVerse TV show called Monarch: Legacy of Monsters that focussed on other monsters in the universe was launched with Chris Black and Matt Fraction joining as showrunners.
Speaking about his initial talks with Legendary Pictures in an interview with The Verge, Black said,
“One of the first conversations I had with them was when they asked if I wanted to be involved, and I asked, ‘Does it have to be like the movies?’ And they said, ‘No, it should be whatever you think works best.’ With that freedom, when Matt and I started working on it.”
The series is premiering on Apple TV+ and features Anna Sawai, Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell, and Kiersey Clemons.
Monarch Creators Did Not Want To Compete With The Films
As mentioned, creators Chris Black and Matt Fraction were particular about not wanting to compete with the blockbuster spectacle of the MonsterVerse films such as Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Kong. They stressed bringing in human stories to explore the effects of a catastrophic event.
In an interview, Fraction mentioned their thought process with how they wanted to treat the series,
“We didn’t want to make a Godzilla spinoff show; we wanted to make a series that lived in that world…we knew we couldn’t compete with the spectacle, and we weren’t even going to try…It’s not a 9/11 show; it’s a 9/12 show. The movies are where the buildings get knocked down, but this show is where people are getting up again, dusting themselves off, and figuring out, “What does my life mean now when my world has changed entirely?”
The series follows the story of the Randa family who discover their secret connection to the Monarch organization which is connected to the monster battle. The creators mentioned that they chose to focus more on the human stories as the spectacle aspect of the Godzilla films would be better suited for a film that comes between long intervals as opposed to a weekly episode. Black said,
“Some fans of the franchise say, “Okay, well, we’ve met these characters; now let’s get to the spectacle.” I think if you’re talking about one movie that comes out every four years, you can do that…if you immediately dispense with the characters to get to the monsters, it’s going to get boring.”
The show is currently streaming on Apple TV+, with the first two episodes currently rated fresh on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator.