The rise of franchise-first pop culture has made what was previously a genre stumbling block into everyone’s problem: Exposition. Specifically, the stuff we call “lore.” When every big show or movie has to connect to something else, those connections aren’t always graceful. Especially when you need to work in how your villain was in the Amazon with your mom when she was researching spiders right before she died.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, Apple TV Plus’ extremely good mystery-thriller based on Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, deftly dances around every major pitfall modern mega-franchises happily dive into. The series packs the frame with fascinating little details that unobtrusively build out the world of the show without having characters explain much of anything. It’s thoughtful in its visual design in a way that recalls HBO’s Watchmen, another show full ofextensive references to a prior work, carefully building out a story that stood on its own.
The similarity is more than superficial. Both shows are very interested in the background construction of a political and cultural apparatus predicated on one massive, divergent event in history. Both shows have clearly had writers do a ton of mapping out the ways in which their fictional worlds were similar and the ways in which they diverged, and instead of having characters recite endless factoids better served by a wiki, they merely depict the characters living in that world. It’s for the viewer to notice the ways in which it is different.
The early episodes of Monarch are filled with details like this. Passengers on a commercial flight are sprayed down by men in hazmat suits after an international trip, airline corridors have clearly marked Godzilla evacuationRead more on polygon.com