In view of the 70th anniversary of Godzilla, a mythical character in Japanese popular culture that in 2024 will celebrate the 70th birthday of the first movie in the saga (Ishiro Honda’s 1954 Godzilla) with the new feature film of the famous Toho production company (the highly anticipated Godzilla Minus One, thirty-third installment of the official Japanese franchise), Legendary Pictures and Apple TV+ join forces for the impressive TV show Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, a new installment in the Western franchise known as the MonsterVerse after previous movies Godzilla (2014), Kong: Skull Island (2017), Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), and Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), to be followed by the upcoming Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, coming in April 2024.
Set, curiously enough as Oppenheimer by Christopher Nolan (the Godzilla myth is directly traceable to the Atomic Bombs that struck the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) in two distinct eras, either several decades before the events of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla and some time after, the story of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is that of two brothers who accidentally find themselves following in their father’s footsteps to discover their family’s connection to the secret organization known as Monarch.
The clues will lead them into the presence of General Lee Shaw (played in the two different timelines by Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell, father and son in real life), spanning from the 1950s to half a century later, when Monarch is threatened by the secret truths known by Shaw himself.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, a monster of a TV show
Collecting the seeds of that great off-screen film that was Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (the director recently returned to prominence with his new effort, the original sci-fi The Creator), Monarch: Legacy of Monsters expands Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse by taking advantage of the narrative spaces afforded by the episodic television format, succeeding where Godzilla vs Kong by Adam Wingard failed: if the spectacular clash of Titans staged in the 2021 blockbuster won on all fronts in the moments when there was hand-wringing to be done, suffered major slowdowns when distracted by too many human characters, uninteresting when it was going well and irritating the rest of the time.
Due to the streaming format and the timeframe possible with this type of dilated storytelling (but don’t tell Martin Scorsese and his Killers of the flower moon, another new Apple TV+ title), Monarch: Legacy of Monsters manages to tell a compelling and profound story about known or buried family ties , that we want to forget or that life makes us discover, all in the shadow (and under the rubble) of a natural disaster that becomes a metaphor for the pandemic years and the resulting post-traumatic stress disorder.
From the production point of view Apple TV+ proves to be a guarantee: in recent years, we are increasingly seeing more and more TV shows that can pretend to be almost perfectly like cinematic works, from Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power to Foundation via the many Marvel and Star Wars series, and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is undoubtedly among them.
However, the real stroke of genius is the father-son Kurt and Wyatt Russell casting, called upon to play the same character as old and young. In a story about heritage and legacy right from the title and which will revolve around the children’s search for answers to a missing father, the sequence in which Wyatt’s image is projected onto Kurt’s body is one of the greatest visual gimmicks that TV has created in recent years.