Monarch: Legacy of Monsters‘ first episode awesomely opens up an entire pandora’s box of Kaiju mayhem and conspiracies the rest of the season will explore.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is the MonsterVerse’s first gigantic step into streaming. The MonsterVerse is a kaiju-focused film franchise, depicting a shared universe inhabited by Godzilla and King Kong. The franchise began with 2014’s Godzilla. The franchise’s latest cinematic installment is Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire, which will be released on April 12th, 2024.
Before you go any further, please note there are major spoilers ahead. If you don’t want any of the surprises ruined for you and would like to experience all the twists and turns that this Kaiju world has to offer, now is your time to exit the article, you can always finish this article after you’ve seen the show. If you’re a brave soul who’s not afraid of spoilers then by all means, proceed.
The Kaiju Mayhem All Starts With A Discovery
The episode opens with John Goodman’s Bill Randa during Kong: Skull Island‘s events. After recording a message for his son, he tosses a bag in the ocean. Decades later, the bag is found by a boat in the middle of the ocean. After her father’s death, Anna Sawai’s Cate settles some of his things in Japan, realizing he has another family in the country. Amidst her investigation into who her father really is, Cate discovers the bag and uncovers what’s inside of it.
The plot using the bag as a McGuffin to motivate the characters really works. The quirkiness of Cate’s father having another life, even having another child in Kentaro, opens up opportunities for more character-building moments. The implication that Randa had a family, even though Kong: Skull Island never hinted he had one, feels like an intentional retcon to bring the show closer to Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla: King of The Monsters‘ family-focused atmospheres. Between the mystery behind Cate’s father and the bag, they create a compelling mystery to follow in successive episodes.
A World Changed By Godzilla’s Appearance
Everywhere Cate looks in Japan, the impact of the Godzilla (2014) events can’t be ignored. A contamination team appears on her plane, Godzilla’s silhouette is on warning signs around the country and an emergency system activates when he’s near the country. Naturally, all of these things trigger flashbacks to when Cate witnessed Godzilla’s encounter with the Golden Gate Bridge, during the 2014 events. The flashbacks reveal Cate suffers from survivor’s guilt because she couldn’t a school bus when it fell off the bridge during the chaos.
Besides the Randa family’s drama, the world-building was easily my favorite part of the episode. I just really enjoy how the world-building makes the world more believable. The world-building also establishes Monarch: Legacy of Monsters as a proper successor to the 2014 film’s grounded tone. Depicting all of this happening in Japan was also a nice meta nod to Godzilla’s roots. The decision to contain Godzilla’s role to just these flashbacks effectively projects menace through this otherwise heroic version of the classic kaiju.
Flashbacks To A Tragedy Among Monarch Agents
Flashbacks showing the friendship between a young Lee Shaw, portrayed by Wyatt Russell, and a young Bill Randa and his wife, Keiko, are depicted in the episode. The trio investigates an abandoned facility, only to discover a collection of M.U.T.O eggs. The eggs hatch and attack them, killing Keiko in the process.
These flashbacks only serve to establish Shaw’s character for future episodes. I have to admit, it’s funny how literally every line Shaw says is a one-liner or witty quip. Ending the episode with Keiko’s death basically explains why the Randa family’s parental relationships would be so strained in the present day.
Ultimately, the first episode is a very strong foundation for later episodes to build upon. Its only real flaws are the lack of kaiju action at times and its clear structure as the first part of a two-part premiere. For all of these factors, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters‘ series premiere is definitely an 8/10.
About Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
Release Date: November 17, 2023
Executive Producers: Chris Black, Matt Fraction, Matt Shakman, Joby Harold, Tory Tunnell, Andy Goddard, Brad Van Arragon, Andrew Colville, Hiro Matsuoka, Takemasa Arita
Cast: Kurt Russell, Wyatt Russell, Anna Sawai, Kiersey Clemons, Ren Watabe, Mari Yamamoto, Anders Holm, Joe Tippett, Elisa Lasowski
Following the thunderous battle between Godzilla and the Titans that leveled San Francisco and the shocking revelation that monsters are real, “Monarch: Legacy of Monsters” tracks two siblings following in their father’s footsteps to uncover their family’s connection to the secretive organization known as Monarch. Clues lead them into the world of monsters and ultimately down the rabbit hole to Army officer Lee Shaw (played by Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell), taking place in the 1950s and half a century later when Monarch is threatened by what Shaw knows. The dramatic saga — spanning three generations — reveals buried secrets and the ways that epic, earth-shattering events can reverberate through our lives.
What are your thoughts on Monarch: Legacy of Monsters‘s first episode? Are you excited for Kurt Russell’s appearance in the series? Will you watch the rest of the season? Let us know by giving The Illuminerdi a shout-out on our social media, and make sure to follow us for more reviews like this, we’re always watching.