|Monarch: Legacy of Monsters|
by Toho Co., Ltd.
|Music by||Leopold Ross|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||5|
|Running time||41–50 minutes|
|Release||November 17, 2023 –|
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is an American monster television series created by Chris Black and developed by Black and Matt Fraction for the streaming service Apple TV+ based on Godzilla by Toho Co., Ltd. Produced by Safehouse Pictures, Toho Co., Ltd., Milkfed Criminal Masterminds, Chris Black Broadcasting System and Legendary Television, it is the sixth installment and the second television series in the MonsterVerse franchise. The series follows members of the organization Monarch as they encounter Godzilla and other monsters, known as "Titans," over the span of a half century, following the events of Godzilla (2014). Black serves as showrunner.
The series stars Anna Sawai, Kiersey Clemons, Ren Watabe, Mari Yamamoto, Anders Holm, Joe Tippett and Elisa Lasowski, alongside Wyatt Russell and Kurt Russell in the shared role of Lee Shaw. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters premiered on Apple TV+ on November 17, 2023 to positive reviews from critics.
In 2015, one year after the re-emergence of Godzilla[a], half-siblings Cate and Kentaro Randa investigate their missing father Hiroshi's connection to Monarch, the covert organization monitoring giant monsters known as Titans. Two generations earlier, Bill Randa and Keiko Miura are scientists involved with the early development of Monarch. Former Army officer Lee Shaw becomes a close ally to the Randa family across both time periods.
- Anna Sawai as Cate Randa: A San Francisco schoolteacher coping with PTSD whose search for her missing father leads her to uncover his involvement with Monarch.
- Ren Watabe as Kentaro Randa: An artist and Cate's half-brother who joins her on a journey to find their mysterious father.
- Kiersey Clemons as May Olowe-Hewitt: A hacker and American immigrant living in Japan.
- Mari Yamamoto as Keiko Miura: A scientist who investigates monsters with Bill Randa in the 1950s.
- Anders Holm as Bill Randa: A cryptozoologist who will eventually become a researcher for Monarch.
- Joe Tippett as Tim: An overzealous Monarch office worker who goes into the field to track down the organization's lost documents.
- Elisa Lasowski as Duvall: A skilled Monarch operative partnered with Tim.
- Kurt Russell as Lee Shaw: A former U.S. Army colonel who joins Keiko and Bill's investigations of monsters and later becomes involved in Monarch.
- Takehiro Hira as Hiroshi Randa, Keiko and William's son and Cate and Kentaro's father
- Qyoko Kudo as Emiko Randa, Kentaro's mother
- Tamlyn Tomita as Caroline Randa, Cate's mother
- Christopher Heyerdahl as General Puckett, Shaw's superior officer
- Bruce Baek as Du-Ho, Shaw’s old friend and an ally
- Mirelly Taylor as Natalia Verdugo, the deputy director of Monarch
- Jess Salgueiro as Dr. Barnes, a Monarch researcher
|No.||Title ||Directed by||Written by ||Original release date |
|1||"Aftermath"||Matt Shakman||Chris Black||November 17, 2023|
In 2015, one year after Godzilla's emergence in San Francisco,[a] traumatized schoolteacher Cate Randa travels to Tokyo to settle the affairs of her missing father, Hiroshi. She discovers that he had a second wife and a son, Kentaro, in Japan. Kentaro leads Cate to Hiroshi's office, where she discovers a safe containing files belonging to their grandfather, Monarch researcher Bill Randa. Seeking answers about Monarch's presence in San Francisco and Hiroshi's connection to them, Cate and Kentaro recruit Kentaro's ex-girlfriend May Olowe-Hewitt to decode the files. Monarch employee Tim is notified of their attempt.
In 1959, Cate and Kentaro's grandparents, Bill Randa and Keiko Miura, follow radiation in Kazakhstan with fellow Monarch official Col. Lee Shaw. A local boy claims that the radiation is a cover story for the government drilling a hole through the earth. Randa and Miura discover that radiation levels drop to zero around a power plant, and that hollow caverns exist in the bedrock beneath it. Venturing inside, they discover eggs belonging to insectoid Endoswarmers. Miura and Shaw rappel down to collect genetic material from the eggs, but the Endoswarmers awaken and drag Miura into the caverns below.
|2||"Departure"||Matt Shakman||Chris Black||November 17, 2023|
In 2015, Kentaro discovers Monarch files in Hiroshi's office indicating that Shaw, his great-uncle, moved to an assisted living facility in Japan. Tim and Monarch field operative Duvall track down Cate, Kentaro, and May in an attempt to find the decoded files, but they escape. Cate, Kentaro, and May go on the run and find Shaw, who reveals that the facility is a pretense for Monarch to keep him under house arrest. Shaw convinces them to escape from the facility and follow Hiroshi to his last known location in Alaska.
In 1952, Shaw is assigned as Miura's escort on an expedition following unusual radiation in the Philippines. They meet Randa in the jungle, who claims to be following folk tales of a fire-breathing dragon. Miura recruits Randa against a skeptical Shaw's advice, and Shaw departs. Continuing alone, Miura and Randa discover the wreckage of the USS Lawton, a Navy ship that sank in 1943 from which Randa was the sole survivor.[b] They discover corpses in the ship and are attacked by an Ion Dragon. Having seen the Ion Dragon's radiation-based fire, Shaw returns to rescue them from the ship.
|3||"Secrets and Lies"||Julian Holmes||Andrew Colville||November 22, 2023|
In 2015, Cate, Kentaro, May, and Shaw escape Japan on a ferry bound for Pohang, Korea. In Pohang, they are accosted by border guards before one of them, Du-Ho, reveals himself as Shaw's old friend. Du-Ho transports them to Alaska by plane; on the way, May infers from Bill Randa’s files that Hiroshi was likely following a list of coordinates identified by Monarch. In Alaska, they find the wreckage of Hiroshi’s plane as well as an encampment suggesting his survival. Du-Ho realizes that Hiroshi’s plane was attacked after landing; a Frost Vark kills him and destroys his plane.
In 1954, Shaw has joined Monarch in a command position. He, Randa, and Miura present a cast of Godzilla's footprint from Indonesia to Shaw's superior officer, Gen. Puckett, to secure uranium to lure Godzilla out of hiding. In Bikini Atoll, Randa and Miura are horrified to discover that Puckett has delivered the uranium in the form of a nuclear bomb intended to kill Godzilla as part of the Castle Bravo test.[a] As Godzilla surfaces, Miura attempts to halt the detonation, but Shaw restrains her. In the aftermath, Shaw is given a blank check by Puckett for Monarch to research the Titans.
|4||"Parallels and Interiors"||Julian Holmes||Milla Bell-Hart||December 1, 2023|
In 2015, the Frost Vark's emergence is detected by Monarch. Cate, Kentaro, May, and Shaw manage to escape from the Frost Vark, but May falls into a pool of water and quickly develops hypothermia as they try to find shelter. Kentaro splits off from the rest of the group and finds a building that he saw from the plane, which turns out to be an old radio station that had previously been repaired by Hiroshi. Having learned that the Frost Vark feeds on heat energy, Cate, May and Shaw create a bonfire to distract it, long enough for a helicopter that Kentaro contacted to arrive and rescue them. The group are taken to a Monarch facility, where they are greeted by Tim and Duvall.
In 2014, Kentaro meets May while waiting for his first art show at a prestigious gallery. He chooses to spend the evening with her instead of preparing for the show, and they bond. It's ultimately revealed that Kentaro decided to present his art before he was ready to do so, out of a desire to make his father proud, and that the night of the gallery was the last time he saw Hiroshi before the latter's disappearance.
|5||"The Way Out"||Mairzee Almas||Amanda Overton||December 8, 2023|
In 2015, Monarch deputy director Verdugo is frustrated to learn that Shaw has kept Cate, Kentaro, and May in the dark about the true nature of Hiroshi's activities in Alaska. Duvall suggests releasing the three to track their movements. After returning to San Francisco, Cate convinces her mother, Caroline, and Caroline's colleague James to smuggle them towards Hiroshi's office in a restricted zone of the city's ruins. Evading military patrols and dealing with Cate's PTSD, they eventually reach Hiroshi's office. While they fail to find further hidden files, Kentaro concludes from Hiroshi's maps that he likely headed to Africa in search of Titans. May secretly contacts Duvall, asking to go home in exchange for her cooperation.
In 2014, two days before Godzilla's emergence, Cate is in a relationship with fellow teacher Dani. On G-Day, feeling guilt over having cheated on Dani, Cate chooses to leave her behind to chaperone a bus of children across the Golden Gate Bridge. Many of the children are killed when Godzilla crashes through the bridge during his clash with the military.
|6||"Terrifying Miracles"||TBA||Karl Taro Greenfeld||December 15, 2023|
|7||TBA||TBA||Mariko Tamaki||December 22, 2023|
|8||TBA||TBA||Al Letson||December 29, 2023|
|9||TBA||TBA||Matt Fraction||January 5, 2024|
|10||TBA||TBA||Chris Black||January 12, 2024|
Following the success of Godzilla vs. Kong, discussions commenced on ways that the MonsterVerse could be expanded beyond feature films. Legendary proposed a live-action series, and amongst the potential investors, Apple TV+ expressed immediate interest and negotiated a deal and green-lit the series in January 2022. The project will be a joint-venture production between Legendary Television, Safehouse Pictures and Toho, although Warner Bros. still owns the rights for the MonsterVerse franchise alongside Legendary. Chris Black will serve as showrunner.
In May, Matt Shakman was hired to direct the first two episodes in addition to executive producing. In addition to Black and Matt Fraction, writers for the series include Andrew Colville, Milla Bell-Hart, Amanda Overton, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Mariko Tamaki, and Al Letson.
In June 2022, Anna Sawai, Ren Watabe, Kiersey Clemons, Joe Tippett and Elisa Lasowski were cast in the series. In July, Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell were added to the cast, with Mari Yamamoto joining in August. In September, Anders Holm joined the cast while also revealing the show's title. In September 2023, with the release of the teaser trailer, John Goodman was revealed to be reprising his role from Kong: Skull Island (2017) as William "Bill" Randa.
In July 2022, it was revealed that principal photography had commenced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Two weeks of filming occurred in Japan in August. The series is shot with 3D cameras in Apple's Spatial Video Format for the Apple Vision Pro.
In October 2023, Leopold Ross was confirmed to be composing the score for the series. The soundtrack was released digitally by Milan Records on November 17, 2023, with the series' main titles track released on November 3 as a single.
|8.||"Not in Trouble"||1:47|
|9.||"Love and Titans"||3:38|
In August 2023, Apple released first look images of the series, now officially titled Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. The teaser for the series was released on September 8, 2023, along with more images. The first trailer for the series debuted at the 2023 New York Comic Con, and the official poster was also revelead. In October 2023, a viral marketing website called "Monarch Unlocked" was created for the series that featured some Monarch computer private files.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series has an approval rating of 85% based on 74 reviews, with an average rating of 7.05/10. The site's consensus reads, "With performances by father-son duo Kurt and Wyatt Russell that work a charm, Monarch adds a welcome wrinkle to the Godzilla legacy by honing its monstrous scope to a very human level." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 68 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Mike Hale of The New York Times commended the film's straightforward narrative and visual effects. He noted that Kurt Russell's presence lent a "nostalgic charm" to the film. In Variety, Aramide Tinubu wrote that the series "will likely satisfy the most novice MonsterVerse explorer".
Writing for RogerEbert.com, Brian Tallerico praised the performance of Kurt and Wyatt Russell, but he expressed dissatisfaction with the writing, describing the characters as "underdeveloped", the plot as lacking depth, and the dialogue as too lengthy.
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- ‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ Review: Kurt and Wyatt Russell Anchor Apple TV+’s Refreshingly Human-Scale Godzilla Series
- Producer Talks Kurt Russell’s Godzilla Casting
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