Now that Godzilla: King of the Monsters has arrived, the stage is set for the epic MonsterVerse, touted since the massive reptile’s titular 2014 flick. Three films in, and we’re starting to get a vision for the key players, pawns, and prehistoric beasts that make up the newest and biggest cinematic universe. Here is everything you need to know about the Legendary MonsterVerse.
What is the MonsterVerse?
On its most basic level, the MonsterVerse is the name for the Godzilla/King Kong franchise that started with Godzilla (2014) and so far contains Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and next year’s Godzilla vs. Kong. Narratively, though, the series focuses on an alternate version of our Earth where huge creatures known as “massive unidentified terrestrial organisms,” also known as MUTOs, exist. The series follows not only the monsters at the core of the films but also a group known as Monarch, which investigates, catalogs, and tries to contain the Titans who walk their version of Earth.
Monarch was first introduced to viewers in 2015’s Godzilla, but it has a storied history as explained in the Godzilla Awakening tie-in comic. The cryptozoological society was established in 1946 as a response to the first appearances of the MUTOs. At first, they were a more aggressive outfit and have previously attempted to execute Godzilla before realizing that the imposing beast is more of a protector than an antagonist.
Monarch’s connection to King Kong came in 1976 when the group embarked on an expedition to Skull Island to investigate the uncharted land mass which was home to multiple hyper-evolved creatures including the giant ape himself. In the most recent movie, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Monarch is back again, this time facing down multiple Titans including the iconic monsters Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah.
First introduced in 1954’s Godzilla, the original Titan has long been wreaking havoc on townships, cities, and other monsters whilst building a legacy as one of the world’s foremost movie monsters. The star of over 30 films, Godzilla has been both antagonist and hero, and the MonsterVerse’s version of the radical reptilian definitely leans more towards the latter, even though he destroyed much of San Francisco in Legendary’s first foray into Gojira lore.
Heading into Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the Titan hasn’t surfaced since the San Francisco attack where he fought off giant MUTOs and “saved” the city (also causing a lot of collateral damage). His appearance then alerted the wider world to the existence of MUTOs and Titans, shifting society as we know it and creating a new world order that recognizes the Titans.
This classic black-and-white movie monkey has a long history with Godzilla; he starred alongside the dinosaur-like creature in his third feature film. His own history, though, goes even further back, having made his silver screen debut in 1933.
A giant ape who survived in a strange prehistoric landmass known as Skull Island, Kong already has connections to Monarch and has proven himself to be another protector of the Earth and the natural balance of all creatures who live on it. Though he isn’t expected to show up in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, he’ll definitely be in Godzilla vs. Kong, which is the next slated MonsterVerse movie.
Known in the MonsterVerse as the Queen of the Monsters, Mothra is another classic Godzilla creation who first appeared in her own titular Toho film in 1961. The giant moth-like creature is a key player in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, though exactly what role she plays is still a mystery. Canonically, she’s more of a peacekeeper than an aggressor but has been known to turn on humans when they’ve threatened the planet, her priestesses, or even when they disrespected Godzilla himself.
Monster Zero A.K.A. King Ghidorah
The three-headed golden dragon type monster is one of the most recognizable and intimidating of all of Godzilla’s foes. He first reared his fearsome head(s) in 1964’s Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, and has been terrorizing the franchise ever since. This is the first appearance of Monster Zero in the world of the MonsterVerse, and from everything we’ve seen so far, he’ll definitely be wreaking havoc on Earth and the Monarch team that’s sworn to protect it.
Inspired by the mighty Pteranodon, Rodan is a winged beast that in the MonsterVerse iteration looks like a flaming phoenix with a massive hooked beak. The Titan is one of the oldest monsters introduced in the franchise, with his debut coming in 1956’s Rodan. His original name was actually Radon, though that was changed for Western audiences. In the classic movies, Rodan–just like Godzilla and Mothra–has gone from a terror to a more heroic figure, though it’s unclear what his role in Godzilla: King of the Monsters will actually be.
What’s Next for the MonsterVerse?
There’s only one other MonsterVerse flick on the slate at the moment, Godzilla vs. Kong. It’s a direct sequel to Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. All we know at the moment is that it focuses on Monarch “embarking on a perilous mission into uncharted terrain and unearths clues to the Titans’ origins.” We will likely see a massive fight between the two titans, yet how and why that’s going to happen is still unclear. It’ll probably be a lot more obvious once we’ve all watched the newest entry in the MonsterVerse.
Editor’s Note: Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks