Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Team on Expanding the World of Godzilla and the MonsterVerse

John Nguyen

The MonsterVerse is growing thanks to fans of Godzilla and King Kong, Godzilla (2014), Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), and more. The franchise features giant Titans fighting each other as death and destruction surround them. One organization that has been working in the shadows to study these Titans is Monarch. With Apple TV+’s Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, viewers get to explore the inner workings of the secret organization that spans generations, and it stars Wyatt Russell and Kurt Russell as young Lee Shaw and older Lee Shaw, respectively.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is set during two different timelines, one during the formation of Monarch and the other after the events of 2014’s Godzilla. The focus is on the human characters, but new monsters are introduced along with the fan-favorite Godzilla.

“I think that it was such a fun opportunity,” Tory Tunnell, an executive producer of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, tells Nerd Reactor. “Safehouse, my company that I run with Joby Harold, my husband and producing partner, we’ve had the privilege of serving in some big pieces of IP. And I think that what’s really special here is doing it as a TV series. You have 10 hours of television. So you really get to drive into some really character-driven stories that you often don’t have the time to do in the feature world.”

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters expands on some of the snippets featured in the MonsterVerse films. For example, a quick reference to the nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll in 2014’s Godzilla has been expanded in the series.

“One of the things that we really enjoyed about our show is that we always say that we’re not stepping on the features,” Tunnell continued. “We’re dancing the raindrops between the features. And so oftentimes, what we get to really do is spend more time and things you may be caught a glimpse of in the feature, or you’re sort of wondering, ‘What was it like to be a human on the ground in that moment,’ and that’s where our show lives and breathe.”

Wyatt Russell as young Lee Shaw in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. Courtesy of Apple TV+

The monster in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters isn’t just referencing the Titans that roam the world. It also references the monsters inside humanity.

“Legacy is a really important piece of the show,” she explained. “It’s about the legacy of monsters, as the title says, but we talk a lot about how you hurt people. In our show, you might come across a 3000-foot monster, or the monster might be the person sitting next to you. And that monsters have always been a great metaphor for some of the challenges that we face as humans.”

It wouldn’t be a MonsterVerse series if there wasn’t an appearance from Godzilla, but the show also introduces other new Titans.

“The ice mole was one where we had a design we all loved and we were really confident in,” VFX Supervisor Sean Konrad tells us. “And then when we got to the post-viz phase, it was like, ‘Ah, it’s not scary enough.’ So we’re like, ‘Okay, give it some big freakin teeth, make its claws bigger, change the action, make it more aggressive.’ And then you give that to the vendor studio, and you give them that directive. And we want to constantly make sure, reinforcing that this thing is scary and aggressive.”

“We worked with really talented people at Framestore, one of our vendor studios, and they figured out a lot of these creative challenges of ‘How do we constantly make this thing feel aggressive?’ In an episode, you have a limited amount of screen time for the creature sometimes and the way that you kind of characterize it becomes really important where every shot needs to fundamentally characterize what this monster is, what his personality is and what the threat is to the people and that economy. It’s hard to work with but also that economy makes the storytelling so much more punchy.”

The first two episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters are now available to stream on Apple TV+. Episode 3 airs on November 22nd next week, and new episodes air on Fridays with the season finale airing on January 12, 2024.