Naturally the main reason one goes to a Godzilla movie is to see the eponymous creature fight other monsters, but it’s also important to have human characters involved to anchor the story. In the MonsterVerse franchise, most of those humans are part of or affiliated with Monarch, which has studied these Titans for nearly three-quarters of a century.
While 2014’s Godzilla and 2017’s Kong: Skull Island provided some information on Monarch, this month’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters pulling the curtain back even further on this organization. I recently interviewed King of the Monsters production designer Scott Chambliss, and he explained that Monarch’s headquarters is representative of the clash between man and nature in the movie. Speaking about the inspiration for designing these headquarters, Chambliss said:
Our story boiled down to its most essential archetype is one of man vs. nature, and the Monarch HQ was the perfect environment in which to visually express this. Located deep in the heart of an oceanic mountain miles below the water’s surface, Monarch brought together all the human and technological engineering firepower conceivable to house its monumental and labyrinthine HQ within an utterly hostile environment...one that didn’t even exist until they created the initial negative void itself.
Although Kong: Skull Island’s post-credits scenes showed Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters being held inside one of Monarch’s interrogation rooms, that’s hardly a good look into the kind of work space the agency’s employees operate in. Fortunately, Godzilla: King of the Monsters will not have that issue, and clearly Monarch is not lacking for funds if it can set up its headquarters within an underwater mountain.
More importantly, though, is how Godzilla: King of the Monsters reflects the core archetype through both the artificial elements making up Monrach’s base and its natural home. Scott Chambliss provided additional details about what to expect from the headquarters, saying:
Within the compound you see evidence of both: the technologically advanced monitoring, scientific, and manufacturing floors expressed in the language of advanced fortified architecture within the larger and very visible raw volcanic rock volume that houses it. This isn’t the kind of metaphoric visualizing that is intended to be showily theatrical. It is instead a presentation of starkly contrasting ingredients- raw, powerful nature and utterly refined human engineering- which is by itself an interpretation of our archetype. I’m very curious to see if this translates into the final film in any meaningful way.
In the present day MonsterVerse, the two main representatives of Monarch have been Ken Watanabe’s Ishiro Serizawa and Sally Hawkins’ Vivienne Graham. Both will be back for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and in addition to meeting some of their other coworkers, we finally get to see the kind of environment they’re in when not doing fieldwork.
Scott Chambliss also confirmed that it was incredibly difficult to put together the Monarch headquarters set. As he put it:
The great volume of Monarch HQ made it by far the most demanding build of our movie. All the scenic and technical arts of set creation were employed here, down to robotic set dressing components. A large number of complicated parts working together comprised our final Monarch HQ world.
It’s hard to say just how much time Godzilla: King of the Monsters is spending inside the Monarch headquarters, and obviously the main draw of this latest MonsterVerse tale is witnessing Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah collide out in the open. Still, considering how little we’ve learned about the organization, it’s cool to see Monarch will have a bigger presence for this third entry.
Along with Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins reprising their roles, Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ main cast includes Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, g, Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson, David Strathairn and Zhang Ziyi. Michael Dougherty directed and co-wrote the script with Zach Shields.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters rampages into theaters on May 31, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. In the meantime, head to our 2019 release schedule to find out what movies are coming out later in the year.