- Matt Shakman, director and executive producer of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, defends the Monsterverse from criticisms that it doesn’t feature memorable characters.
- The director cites Kong: Skull Island characters played by Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, and Tom Hiddleston as examples of interesting characters.
- Monarch: Legacy of Monsters takes a more grounded approach to its storytelling and focuses more on character than kaiju action, and it has been met with positive reviews.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters executive producer and director Matt Shakman defends the Monsterverse from its biggest criticism. Beginning in 2014 with Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, the Monsterverse now comprises four feature films (with a fifth, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, on the way), and a live-action TV show from Apple TV Plus. Monarch: The Legacy of Monsters, which is created by Chris Black and Matt Fraction, aired its first episodes earlier this month, telling a more human story about one family’s journey to discovering their connection to the organization known as Monarch.
Now, as new Monarch Legacy of Monsters episodes continue to release, Shakman defends one of the main criticisms of the Monsterverse in a recent interview with DiscussingFilm. While the franchise has never been short on scale and spectacle, it’s often accused of lacking when it comes to its characters, something that the executive producer and director doesn’t necessarily agree with. Check out Shakman’s full comment below:
“I don’t share that opinion about the Monsterverse movies. I mean, if you just think about Kong: Skull Island – Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston – there are incredible characters in that movie. And they’re very memorable and their stories are unique.
“One of the things that was most important for us was that when we were doing monster action, it was from the point of view of the humans, that we were telling the story from ground level. We were not flying high in the sky at Godzilla level, which is where I think a lot of the movies exist. We were more interested in ‘How is this monster event affecting the humans that we love and care about?'”.
Apple’s Monarch Show Solves The Monsterverse’s Character Complaints
2014’s Godzilla movie was proof that there’s still life in the titular kaiju as a piece of IP, with Edwards delivering a tense, gritty, and thrilling take on the epic monster. A major criticism, however, is that the lead characters played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen mostly take a back seat to the destruction and chaos. 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters is arguably the biggest offender when it comes to a lack of compelling character drama, but similar complaints were levied at 2017’s Kong: Skull Island and 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong.
Apple TV Plus’ new Monsterverse show, however, takes an entirely different approach. The Monarch: Legacy of Monsters cast features actors like Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell, Kiersey Clemons, Anna Sawai, and Ren Watabe, and these actors’ characters are all given plenty of room to breathe in a story that doesn’t prioritize kaiju action. While that’s not to say that there aren’t giant monsters in the series (episode 2 introduces the Ion Dragon), a central storyline involves Sawai’s quest to uncover her father’s connection to Monarch while she deals with lingering PTSD from Godzilla’s San Francisco attack.
RT Critics Score
RT Audience Score
Kong: Skull Island
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Godzilla vs. Kong
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
So far, this approach seems to be working. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters‘ Rotten Tomatoes score sits at a lofty 85%, the best in Monsterverse history. It remains to be seen whether the show’s quality will continue throughout the remaining episodes of season 1, but placing a greater emphasis on character has evidently resulted in an interesting and more emotional expansion to the Monsterverse.