‘Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ Season One Review

Since 2014, the MonsterVerse has been intertwining iconic monsters with humanity’s struggle for survival. Every project in the franchise has been built upon this rich universe of lore, exploring the breathtaking battles between these gigantic beings while diving deeper into the consequences for mankind. The primary focus of the MonsterVerse has always been about the delicate balance between nature and civilization. Although several titles in the franchise have managed to show that theme, none has been as impactful as Apple TV+’s Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.

For the uninitiated, the MonsterVerse was launched in 2014 with Godzilla, but the creatures shown in the cinematic universe have a long and rich history attached to them. Whether it is Godzilla or King Kong, every character in the franchise has enthralled us with colossal clashes. But Monarch: Legacy of Monsters goes behind the scenes and shows viewers how the legendary organization began and the world learned about Titans. The series is divided into three timelines that make viewers learn about how Monarch came into existence and how it changed over the years.

[Please note, there are spoilers ahead for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.]

Godzilla in Monarch Legacy of Monsters
Godzilla in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.

Secrets and Double Lives in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters

The series starts with the aftermath of Godzilla’s defeat of MUTO in San Francisco. After the battle, a woman named Cate Randa (Anna Sawai) briefly reunites with her father, Hiroshi Randa (Takehiro Hira), for a short time, who then leaves without explaining. However, Cate soon discovers that her father had another wife in Japan. So, she embarks on a journey to learn the truth. To her shock, she meets Emiko (Qyoko Kudo), Hiroshi’s second wife, and Kentaro (Ren Watabe), Hiroshi’s second child, in Japan.  Cate asks Kentaro to take her to her father’s office. While checking Hiroshi’s office, Cate opens a secret safe where she finds a bag belonging to Monarch. 

In the next timeline, we are taken back to 1959, when Cate and Kentaro’s grandparents, Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Keiko Miura (Mari Yamamoto), go on an expedition. They are accompanied by Col. Leland Shaw. Their journey leads them to a nuclear reactor, where they find eggs belonging to Endoswarmers. As they try to take samples, the Endoswarmer larvae wake up from the eggs and drag Keiko into the pit.

Mari Yamamoto and Kurt Russell in "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Mari Yamamoto and Kurt Russell in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.

For the first time, the story behind the Monarch organization 

Over 10 episodes, viewers get to know what happened before that particular incident and how it all ties up to the events happening in the modern world. At its core, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters primarily focuses on the mysterious Monarch Corporation. With each episode, viewers get a clear picture of how the Monarch plays a significant role in keeping the balance between humanity and the massive Titans. This behind-the-scenes look is one of the aspects that makes this show special. It does a great job of showing the origins of the secretive Monarch, its agendas, and the people who are unknowingly pulled into this world.

Monarch is a company with a rich mythology, and Monarch: Legacy of Monsters explores that. The creators, Chris Black and Matt Fraction, have done a magnificent job in drawing inspiration from various traditions and cultures, infusing them together to create an extraordinary viewing experience. More importantly, the show just doesn’t revolve around one or two creatures. Each episode introduces a new monster, unearthing its origins, powers, and what kind of relationship it shares with humans.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is a human story, too

But one thing that differentiates Monarch: Legacy of Monsters from any title in the MonsterVerse is how it puts humans at the forefront. Since the first Godzilla movie in 2014, the MonsterVerse has been all about slam-bang action, with Titans fighting each other and ruining cities. But Legacy of Monsters is very different. It is an exploration of human characters that makes this series more relatable than the previous entries in the franchise. 

The complicated sibling story between Cate and Kentaro has been stitched very sensitively and is one of the most significant plot points of the series. The series has that emotional depth that others lack. As the story progresses, viewers get to know more and more details about the characters, making them more and more invested in their endeavors. If you are only planning to watch the show for the Titans, you might be surprised how elegantly human stories have been handled as well. Anna Sawai and Ren Watabe are brilliant in their respective roles. Kiersey Clemons is great as May, too. 

Acting-wise, the father-son duo of Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell are spell-binding in their roles. Wyatt plays the young version of Col. Shaw, while Kurt plays the older version of Shaw. There’s something mysterious about this character, and both actors do a magnificent job of taking viewers on a journey that’s thrilling and filled with twists and turns. The supporting cast, Mari YamamotoAnders HolmJoe Tippett, and Elisa Lasowski,  is great. I really loved Tippett’s character and his mannerisms. He is a scene-stealer here.

Joe Tippett in "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Joe Tippett in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.

The streaming show excels in the crafts

The cinematography and production design are absolutely mind-boggling. Every single frame has been meticulously crafted, taking the viewers on a journey that feels authentic and thrilling. The makers have set different timelines to different moods, which makes the series even more compelling as the characters try to navigate the complexities of a world where humans and Titans coexist.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters does have some pacing issues

With all the above things being said, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is not flawless. One glaring issue with the series is its pacing. Some episodes are enthralling, and viewers are on the edge of their seats. However, certain episodes feel like they are being dragged to reach the main plot. Although this is a minor shortcoming, if the series returns for another season, the makers might have to be extra careful regarding that aspect of the show.

All in all, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is a solid entry in the MonsterVerse. The series successfully blends different genres into a gripping narrative that keeps audiences hooked to their screens. With breathtaking cinematography, complex characters, and much-needed emotional depth, the series offers a unique take on the story of humans and monsters coexisting. If you love character-driven dramas that have a lot more to offer, then Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is for you. 

Anna Sawai in "Monarch: Legacy of Monsters," now streaming on Apple TV+.
Anna Sawai in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. Image courtesy of Apple TV+.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is now streaming on Apple TV+.

Learn more about the MonsterVerse show at the Legendary website. 

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