Gareth Edwards’ visionary masterpiece, Godzilla, reinvented the saga of the iconic monster for a Western audience and acted as the foundation of Legendary Studios’ Monsterverse, a tribute to Toho’s classic Daikaiju epics. At the center of the franchise’s Titan-human correlation, the organization ‘Monarch’ was introduced, which initially served the purpose of introducing, researching, and explaining the Titan-related affairs to characters in-universe and, in the process, to the audience as well. However, soon enough, the narrative choice throughout the following stories made Monarch kind of redundant, with its usefulness being limited to only serving as an exposition device. This aspect gradually became so ludicrous that the characters in the movies acknowledged the fact through meta-jokes.
The recently ended Monsterverse series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters changed the equation by tracing back to the origin of the organization, linking it with a post-World War II geopolitical scenario, and doubling down on the human-monster intricacies along the way. The added dimension has worked wonders for Monarch, as by utilizing the freedom and cohesiveness provided in the scope of the small screen, the series has made fans eager to learn more about a definitive roadmap of the organization’s journey through decades. We will try our best to highlight the key moments in the history of Monarch to satisfy the curiosity of the Monsterverse nerds out there.
Inception Of The Monarch
There is some confusion regarding the foundation of Monarch, as the live-action media hasn’t specified the origins in much detail. However, the official novelization of the Monsterverse movies and official updates on social media have clarified much about the beginning of the organization.
As humanity entered the atomic age and started meddling with powers beyond their comprehension and control, the primeval gigantic radiation-feeding creatures known as Titans, who were lying dormant near Earth’s core so far, gradually awakened. In 1943, the warship USS Lawton was sunk near Pearl Harbour by a winged Titan known as the Ion Dragon, leaving Navy sailor William ‘Bill’ Randa as the only survivor. The life-altering experience led Bill to obsess over these magnificent creatures from that point on, searching for clues regarding the fateful day and the identity of the creature responsible. The Lawton incident also resulted in President Truman laying the foundation of a covert organization known as Monarch with the intention of tracking and learning about mysterious beings of the same kind, and Dr. Eiji Serizawa (the father of Ishiro) became one of the founders of the organization. (Godzilla: Awakening)
The Golden Period For Titan Trackers (1952–1973)
After its inception during the post-World War II years, Monarch remained relatively inactive until Keiko Randa, the genius Japanese immigrant scientist, joined the organization. While exploring a radiation pattern in the wilderness of the Philippines, Keiko was escorted by the upright Lieutenant Lee Shaw and met Bill Randa, who, by now, had turned into a cryptozoologist and was tracking down sightings of Ion Dragon. The trio witnessed the Titan in all its glory after going through some life-threatening experiences and gradually formed a bond with each other as they became the leading figureheads of the Monarch. Keiko’s admiration and respect for the magnificent creatures, coupled with Bill’s curiosity and open-mindedness, took the organization to new heights, and Shaw assisted them, using his military background to their advantage as he ensured political backing and government funding for Monarch.
However, Monarch’s benevolent and exploration-driven modus operandi will often clash with the state defense’s security paranoia, which perceives the very existence of the Titans as a global threat and becomes hell-bent on eliminating them with complete disregard for scientific or biophilic endeavors. Using intel provided by Monarch, the US military tried to nuke Godzilla using an H-bomb in Bikini Atoll during Operation Castle Bravo in 1954, much to Keiko’s disgust and dismay. Later, while the Monarch trio tested Dr. Suzuki’s gamma-ray radiation-mimicking device on Hateruma Island, it was revealed that, being a Titan, Godzilla had survived the bombing.
The conflict with the military will become a recurrent theme in Monarch’s history, and the military’s seizure of power will result in the trio of Bill, Keiko, and Shaw temporarily losing control over the organization. Unbeknownst to his friends, Shaw made a bargain to provide information to his superior—about Godzilla’s survival—to regain control. Around the same time, Bill and Keiko create a World Titan Map, combining sighting incidents and radiation patterns. Bill conceptualizes the existence of another realm—a subterranean world inside our own that is closer to the core of our planet—the Hollow Earth, where the Titans presumably dwell.
The situation will start going south afterward, starting with Monarch’s expedition to a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan in 1959, where a bunch of endoswarmers drags Keiko inside a hollow earth rift. Three years later, Shaw leads a recon mission into Hollow Earth known as ‘Project Hourglass’, which goes horribly wrong as Shaw’s entire team gets killed by Ion Dragon. Losing both his friends and colleagues, Bill Randa becomes increasingly dejected and overly obsessed with Titan-related research. With the disastrous aftermath of Project Hourglass, the military retracted their financial and political backing from Monarch, leaving it in a rather miserable state. In 1973, Bill Randa made a last-ditch attempt to reinvigorate the organization by leading an expedition to a remote island in the South Pacific known as Skull Island, where the Titanus Kong was discovered along with a host of other unique Titans. Unfortunately, Bill dies on Skull Island after getting attacked by the Skullcrawler Titan.
The Decadent Millennium
Shaw gets pulled through the rift and returns to the surface world as the sole survivor, only to discover that, due to a temporal anomaly in Hollow Earth, he has gone forward twenty years in time. Keiko’s son, Hiroshi, becomes an employee of Monarch, and using deep space satellite navigation technology, he decides to probe into the subterranean depths of the planet, which results in his expulsion from the organization. Monarch around this period of time has become an extremely covert, off-the-books organization, the details of which are unknown even to the military.
During the turn of the new millennium, Monarch’s activity slightly increases as Ishiro Serizawa becomes the director of the organization. As seen in Godzilla, Serizawa and his associate Graham discover the remains of a Titan of Godzilla’s species and a couple of spores of M.U.T.O. near a collapsed uranium mine in the Philippines in 1999. One of the spores had previously hatched, from which an M.U.T.O. proceeded to move toward the Janjira nuclear power plant in Japan and cause disastrous seismic activity.
Over a decade later, a fully grown M.U.T.O. emerged from the collapsed power plant, destroying the Monarch outpost built surrounding it in the process, and along with a female partner, went on to rampage across the world. At this point in time, Godzilla emerged as well, and the clash between these Titans shocked the entire world. This was the period when the existence of Titans became known to the general public, and the destruction that followed the emergence of these beasts changed the course of human history forever.
Over the years, the military has often locked horns with Monarch regarding Godzilla’s importance as a preserver of the human-Titan balance. During the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the emergence of King Ghidorah, a vicious alien organism, threatens the existence of the world, and in an effort to destroy both him and Godzilla, the military launches a unique weapon known as the Oxygen Destroyer, which severely weakens Godzilla. Dr. Serizawa sacrifices his life to reinvigorate Godzilla by detonating a nuke, and after his and Graham’s deaths, the organization truly falls from grace. During the events of Godzilla vs. Kong, Monarch has unofficially become Apex’s stooge, letting the organization venture into a Hollow Earth expedition by using Kong as a guide and remaining absolutely ineffective as Apex launches its Titan domination plan. Even during the catastrophic destruction wrought by Ghidorah’s consciousness-driven Mechagodzilla, the city of Hong Kong was sitting ducks on the path of destruction thanks to the utterly clueless condition Monarch was in.
With the upcoming fifth installment, Godzilla X Kong, we are hoping the organization’s well-structured history shown in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters gets its due justice, and Monarch is seen playing a more active role in Titan-related affairs. The organization, which was founded on Keiko’s belief in natural harmony and coexistence, needs to uphold its motto by acting accordingly.