Monarch: Legacy of Monsters creators felt it'd be 'disingenuous' if show didn't honour Godzilla's Japanese roots

Chris Black and Matt Fraction said they "wanted to tell a story that was bigger than America"

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV+)
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters brings the Godzilla franchise to the small screen (Apple TV+)

Matt Fraction and Chris Black were keen for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters to have a more global scope than previous Godzilla films, because they felt it'd be "disingenuous" not to honour the monster's roots in Japanese culture they tell Yahoo UK.

The Apple TV+ series follows half-siblings Cate (Anna Sawai) and Kentaro (Ren Watabe) as they search for answers about their father's disappearance, and the links he has to a clandestine group known as Monarch whose connections to monsters like Godzilla can be traced back several decades.

Godzilla, of course, began life through Toho studio's 1954 movie named after the creature, and the new series brings a new story to light without it being an America-centric narrative.

"We wanted a global show, we wanted to tell a story that was bigger than America," Fraction explains.

"It felt disingenuous at best to not honour the show's Japanese roots, not only we wanted our cast to reflect that but we shot there, we were in Tokyo shooting this."Matt Fraction

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV+)
The Apple TV+ show focuses on half-siblings Cate (Anna Sawai, centre) and Kentaro (Ren Watabe, right) as they search for answers about their missing father (Apple TV+)

"We tried to shoot as practically as much as we could because it makes the show feel big, it makes the show feel real and it was about telling that small, intimate story about family on that huge canvas."

Black concurs, adding: "If you look back at [the Godzilla films] these are allegorical tales about existential threats to our world and what we may be doing to our world.

"That's not an American story, it's not a Japanese story, it's a global story."Chris Black

"Godzilla can't be contained to one culture or one country, and on a practical level he is a global brand. I think he's up there with Coca-Cola, everybody knows Godzilla.

"We were very aware that we didn't want to tell the American version of that story — and granted we're both Americans and that's our lived experience, those are the voices that we speak in — but we wanted to tell something that would resonate with people anywhere."

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 08: Executive Producer Matt Fraction (L) and Showrunner/Executive Producer Chris Black attend the Apple TV+
Matt Fraction (L) and Chris Black told Yahoo UK they wanted to create a story that would "resonate with people anywhere" (Getty Images for Apple TV+)

The themes of the narrative, Fraction says, are universal: "Recognising the world is out of balance and that your place in the world is out of whack as a human experience, not necessarily an American one."

The 'daunting' task of following in Toho's footsteps

Entering the Monsterverse was no small task, and Fraction admits that he and his fellow co-creator felt like "Wile E. Coyote [when he] would run off the cliff and could keep going as long as [he] didn't look down."

Black adds that things would only "get daunting if we let it" adding: "It was like, 'don't look down, don't look down, don't look down.'"

"I think to some extent you had to not think about it," he goes on. "We were fans of the franchise, going all the way back to the early days, we've seen all the Toho movies, obviously we love the Legendary movies.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV+)
While following in Toho Studios' footsteps was "daunting", the creators felt "honoured to be trusted with the Monsterverse, and be allowed to create characters of their own (Apple TV+)

"Those four movies, soon to be five movies, where the canonical universe that we had been given to play in and we knew the weight of that history.

"Those movies go back 70 years, but I think what we needed to do as writers and creators was just put our heads down and say, 'OK, what's the best story we can tell? What's the best TV show we can make?'"

In the end they were able to do so, and they even had the chance to put their own spin on the Monsterverse with the blessing of Toho.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV+)
The creators shared that having Toho and Legendary's trust was "an incredible responsibility, but also an incredible honour" (Apple TV+)

Black explains: "We knew we wanted to lead with Godzilla, he's the premier character, he's the franchise character and we knew in the first season we wanted to see Godzilla.

"But they also encouraged us — Apple Legendary and Toho — to create our own, to expand the universe, to let our imaginations run free and add to that cryptozoology of Kaiju."Chris Black

"Hopefully [the new monsters] are going to end up there up on the wall with Rodan and Edra and Mothra and Godzilla," he adds.

It was a level of trust that the co-creators felt moved by, as Fraction shares: "That the people at Toho and Legendary have trusted us not to screw it up is both an incredible responsibility, but also an incredible honour."

Kurt and Wyatt Russell's casting

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV+)
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters also stars father and son Kurt and Wyatt Russell portraying the same character in different periods of his life (Apple TV+)

The biggest surprise of the series, apart from its many Kaiju, is the decision to cast father-and-son duo Kurt and Wyatt Russell to portray the same character, Lee Shaw, in different periods of his life.

Black explains that the role "was not written for them" but their casting came about by a stroke of good fortune, as the actors' desire to work together coincided during the early stages of the show.

"Kurt and Wyatt apparently had been looking to do a project together for a long time and had been offered roles where they would play father and son but had never been offered a role where they played the same character, and they found that really intriguing," he says.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV+)
Black said that the actors were keen to work together and "got hooked on the idea" of playing the same character (Apple TV+)

"They got hooked on the idea of it, of the character, of the story."Chris Black

"They were fans of the Monsterverse, fans of Godzilla and, on our side of it, as soon as it was like, 'how about Kurt and Wyatt Russell?' We were like 'done, sold'.

Black added: "We're in a window where Wyatt's resemblance is really strong to his father, it's like a freebie special effect. No CGI required!

"But to watch the two of them build the character from both ends was really compelling too."

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday, 17 November.

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