With four movies under its belt so far, plus Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire on the way, the MonsterVerse has done pretty well for itself as a film series over the last decade. As of 2023 though, this franchise also includes television shows, starting off the the animated Skull Island that debuted to Netflix subscribers in June. Arguably the bigger small screen deal, however, is the live-action Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, which was previously called Godzilla and the Titans and will be accessible with an Apple TV+ subscription.
Set between 2014’s Godzilla and 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, when the public has learned about the existence of the Titans, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters follows two siblings who learn about their families connection to Monarch, the secretive scientific organization that studies these giant monsters. This multigenerational saga intends to unearth secrets that will present the MonsterVerse in a new light, so let’s go over who’s making up the cast of this entry on the 2023 TV schedule, starting with Kurt Russell.
Following his time as Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Mr. Nobody in the Fast & Furious movies, Kurt Russell has joined another popular franchise. Within the MonsterVerse, he’s playing Lee Shaw, an Army officer who was once affiliated with Monarch. However, in the show’s present day narrative, he appears to be on the outs with the organization, as the knowledge he possesses threatens them. If the first trailer for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is any indication, this could be because Lee now believes the Titans need to be exterminated.
While Kurt Russell plays Lee Shaw in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ contemporary events, his son, Wyatt Russell, will bring the character to life in scenes set in the 1950s. As such, one can presume this was back when Lee was more idealistic, and perhaps these flashbacks will also illustrate how he became disillusioned with Monarch. The younger Russell also has some franchise cred under his belt, having played John Walker, a.k.a. U.S. Agent, in The Falcon and the Winter Solider, a role he’ll reprise in Thunderbolts.
You may remember Anna Sawai for playing Elle in F9, or maybe you caught her as Naomi in the Netflix series Pachinko. For Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, she’s playing a character named Cate, who’s a former schoolteacher and survivor of G-Day, i.e. when Godzilla battled the MUTOs in San Francisco. Cate will travel to Japan to settle some family affairs, but instead uncovers a family secret. Having grown tired of running away from her problems, she becomes determined to find answers, which brings her into contact with Lee Shaw, who can apparently shed light on this mystery. Finally, Sawai’s character’s full name is Cate Randa, which explains her connection to Monarch, as she’s related to the next character on this list.
2017’s Kong: Skull Island wound the MonsterVerse clock back to 1973 to show an expedition to the title location spearheaded by John Goodman’s William Randa, a high-ranking Monarch operative during the Vietnam War era. He was the only survivor from the USS Lawton being destroyed in 1943 by a water-dwelling Titan, and he dedicated the rest of his life to proving that these giant monsters existed. Sadly, Randa didn’t make it off Skull Island alive, as he was devoured by a Skullcrawler. However, the Monarch: Legacy of Monsters trailer revealed that we’ll see recovered footage he shot shortly before his demise, though it’s possible Goodman also shot scenes of Randa that took place prior to the Skull Island expedition.
Just like how two different actors are playing Lee Shaw in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, apparently the same approach is being taken for William Randa. Anders Holm, who starred as Anders Holmvik in Workaholics and has more recently appeared in shows like Inventing Anna and The Muppets Mayhem, is reportedly playing a younger version of Randa. Like Wyatt Russell, presumably Holm will play the younger Randa in scenes set in the 1950s, meaning it’s a good bet we’ll see the two characters interact with each other.
Fresh off her reprisal of Iris West in The Flash, and also known from projects like Dope, Scoob!, Fairfax and Swarm, Kiersey Clemons will next be seen in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters as May, an American ex-pat who has “a roguish exterior that she uses to protect herself as well as others.” From deciphering codes to uncovering loopholes, she is “always three steps ahead of everyone around her.” So if she and May cross paths, the latter sounds like she’ll be a welcome asset with helping the former solve her family mystery.
Something we do know for sure is that Kiersey Clemons’ May will share screen time with Kentaro, played by 461 Days of Bento’s Ren Watabe. It’s said that Kentaro is “an intelligent, creative, and curious young man who has yet to find his own path.” Kentaro will go on a journey to learn more about his “revered, yet mysterious father,” and along the way learn his own skills. Given that Monarch: Legacy of Monsters’ plot synopsis states that two siblings are following in their father’s footsteps and uncovering family secrets, this makes me wonder if Cate is Kentaro’s sister.
Fans of the HBO miniseries Mare of Easttown will remember Joe Tippett for playing John Ross, but you may have also seen him on The Morning Show, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone and Spirited, among other projects. For Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, Tippett is playing Tim, an office drone who dreams os being a secret agent, which comes true when his overconfidence lands him in the field. It’s a good bet that Tim and the next character on this list are working for Monarch, but I suppose there’s a possibility they’re affiliated with a different government agency.
Tim will be working closely alongside Elisa Lasowski’s Duvall in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, with this character being “an expert operative with unwavering confidence in herself and her skills” who possess a “wry sense of humor,” which will help her with guiding Tim out in the field. Lasowski’s credits include Eastern Promises, Hyena, Versailles and guest-starring in an episode of Game of Thrones.
Mari Yamamoto and Anna Sawai previously worked together on Pachinko, and the former has also been seen in Tokyo Vice and the Netflix movie Kate. Unlike everyone else mentioned on this list, we have no idea yet whom Yamamoto is playing in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. However, given that she’s next to Anders Holm in an official still, that means we’ll be seeing her in the show 1950s-set scenes. As such, if she and the young Randa become romantically involved, maybe this means that Yamamoto’s character is Cate’s (and possibly Kentaro’s) grandmother.
The first two episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters will premiere Friday, November 17, with a new episode following each week afterwards until January 12. And if you’re still craving MonsterVerse excitement after the series is over, you won’t have to wait too long for it, as Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire arrives in theaters on April 12, 2024. Stream the previous MonsterVerse movies with your Max subscription.