In Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, Chris Black has set his stall out to deliver the most compelling, dramatic, and unmissable entry in the MonsterVerse to date.
The MonsterVerse has become a cinematic staple in the last decade. From Godzilla to Kong, the biggest Titans ever imagined have stomped across our screens, flattened our cities, and made the heavens shake with their colossal roars. And all under the watchful eye of Monarch. The mysterious government agency has been at the forefront of Titan research since the MonsterVerse was envisioned. And now, thanks to a collaboration between Legendary and Apple TV Plus, we are finally peeling back the veil of secrecy.
The two giants have collaborated on an all-new series titled MONARCH: LEGACY OF MONSTERS. And it promises to fill in all the blanks from a decade of monster movies. But can a limited series fronted by screen legend Kurt Russell truly redefine the MonsterVerse and deliver a series of true substance? Or is this latest outing just another shameless cash-in on one of the biggest cinematic franchises of all time?
Fear not MonsterVerse fans because MONARCH: LEGACY OF MONSTERS is a revelation. It boasts standout performances from its cast, a compelling storyline, and adds some much-needed gravitas to the MonsterVerse as a whole, and although the series utilizes some of the franchise’s biggest stars, this story is about the incredible individuals responsible for creating Monarch as a whole. As well as the fabric of the entity itself. What we are rewarded with is a gloriously compelling series that is rich in story, light on disappointment, and colossal in monster action. And it all starts on familiar territory.
Now, to be clear, this is an initial reaction post. Not a full review. All reviews have been redacted by those pesky NDAs enforced by Monarch. However, Future of the Force will be reviewing each episode as it drops on Apple TV Plus. But let me just say, that after five thrilling episodes, this series grabs you by the arm and drags you down the MonsterVerse rabbit hole with glorious purpose. Yes, the Titans feature heavily, some more familiar than others, but the lineage of the icons of the organization is where the hidden treasure of this series truly lies.
The series follows two siblings following in their father’s footsteps to uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch. Clues lead them into the world of monsters and ultimately down the rabbit hole to Army officer Lee Shaw (played by Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell), taking place in the 1950s and half a century later when Monarch is threatened by what Shaw knows.
From the outset, the series centers on the two siblings searching for clues about their father’s secretive history. Anna Sawai turns is wonderfully weighted performance as the traumatized former schoolteacher Cate. Her fateful encounter with Godzilla on “G-Day” (San Fransisco) has all but destroyed her life and the crippling PTSD she endures has left deep scars. Sawai delivers a truly relatable performance that deserves attention. And I cannot wait to see where her story arc takes her next. But on this showing, it’ll be well worth the wait.
Kurt and Wyatt Russell on the other hand deliver a truly safe pair of hands at the wheel. Throughout his career, Kurt Russell has crafted some of the most memorable characters in Hollywood history. And I can see Lee Shaw joining that illustrious list of characters. The artistic choice to have Kurt and his son Wyatt play the same role at different times was a bold one. But it pays off in spades here. Their mannerisms are practically identical, and their joint performance adds a rare quality to proceedings. This masterstroke of storytelling allows the creatives to create an instant heritage dating back to the very start of Monarch. Once the story begins to unfold, it serves to add some extremely rich meat to the figurative bones at both points in the timeline.
Now, any series playing in the MonsterVerse sandbox must incorporate the King of the Monsters in its events. And I am delighted to confirm that Godzilla features prominently throughout. Not that he is a major focus of the series. However, his presence is always at the forefront of every event that plays out on the screen. In truth, it is Godzilla’s arrival that serves as the major focal point of the series. And he casts a long shadow. But even though he only features from time to time, his legacy is a constant companion on the journey. Even Kong gets in on the action, as do some of the other Titans. But this series is about Monarch, and the exploration of the elusive organization is a joy to behold.
Overall. I am loving every second of MONARCH: LEGACY OF MONSTERS. The series has a rare quality. It manages to connect to the events of the cinematic universe and expand the story in ways many never thought possible. The legacy of Monarch has been fleshed out in a tantalizing fashion and has added far more depth to the series as a whole. This can be attributed to the usage of Kurt and Wyatt Russell to create a character both young and old, naive and experienced. And at the forefront of the story in both timelines.
In creating this series, Chris Black has set his stall out to deliver the most compelling, dramatic, and unmissable entry in the MonsterVerse to date. And by all accounts, he has succeeded. The show may be light on the franchise’s two biggest stars, but it more than makes up for it with some of the best storytelling in the series. And it is this triumph of storytelling that will legitimize the MonsterVerse and cement its foundations as the true home of the monsters…on both the big and small screens.
Epic monster fights belong on the big screen. But the true legacy of the Titans is on Apple TV Plus.
MONARCH: LEGACY OF MONSTERS launches with a two-episode premiere on Friday, November 17, 2023. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter at the top of our homepage for all the latest news and reviews from Future of the Force.
Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!