How Godzilla's Monarch Can Be Better Than Marvel's SHIELD

Ken Watanabe Godzila and Nick Fury

Godzilla: King of the Monsters can make Monarch better than Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. One of the biggest similarities between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Legendary's MonsterVerse is the presence of a government agency with limitless resources overseeing the special beings that exist in their respective universes. In the MCU, the superheroes, villains, gods, and aliens were monitored by S.H.I.E.L.D. while the MonsterVerse's Titans are tracked by Monarch. Though they appear to be similar on the surface, the two organizations are actually quite different, and that gives the MonsterVerse a chance to improve upon the mistakes Marvel made with S.H.I.E.L.D.

Both Monarch and S.H.I.E.L.D. were woven into the fabric of their universes from the start. The global spy network once run by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) debuted in Iron Man, with Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) as its main representative, and hinted at the greater superhero universe yet to come. When Legendary Pictures plotted out their MonsterVerse, Marvel and S.H.I.E.L.D. were clearly the models for Monarch, which operated so similarly to S.H.I.E.L.D. in Godzilla 2014 that fans could be forgiven for wondering if the name 'Monarch" was also a hard-to-remember acronym. They even have similar origins: both agencies were founded after World War II and operated in secret for decades, stockpiling information about the special beings in their midst.

Related: Godzilla 2's Monarch Website Has An Important Kong: Skull Island Connection

Of course, the MonsterVerse is relatively much younger than the MCU. 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters is only the third film in the series while Marvel has 20 films under their belt, with three more dropping next year. However, as the MCU has evolved, it outgrew S.H.I.E.L.D. and its usefulness years ago. Monarch, however, is integral to the MonsterVerse and its importance is poised to increase.

How Monarch Is Different To S.H.I.E.L.D.

Both Monarch and S.H.I.E.L.D. were designed to be the glue of their respective shared universes. As superheroes proliferated in the MCU, S.H.I.E.L.D. was there to unite them and also provide necessary exposition, both to the characters and to the fans watching. Monarch did the same in Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island when a world that ostensibly resembled our reality was suddenly faced with the existence of giant monsters that rose from beneath the Earth and rampaged across major cities like Honolulu and San Francisco. Monarch provided background on the beasts which were originally designated M.U.T.O.s - massive unidentified terrestrial organisms - and introduced the key concepts like the "Hollow Earth Theory" that explained where the monsters come from.

However, unlike S.H.I.E.L.D., which was dissolved in the MCU movies after Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Monarch's importance in the MonsterVerse is only increasing. Monarch behaved like S.H.I.E.L.D. in Godzilla; they locked down the Janjira nuclear plant and surrounding town during the M.U.T.O. incident and they seem to have broad powers over the U.S. Military. The key difference is that the presence of the monsters on Earth makes Monarch a vital entity since all of the known info about the secret locations, powers, and histories of the Titans belong to Monarch. When Godzilla clashes with Rodan, Mothra, and Ghidorah in King of the Monsters, Monarch is the primary line of defense for humans at the mercy of the kaiju. Indeed, all of the human interest in the film resides in Monarch and the characters that comprise it.

S.H.I.E.L.D. Was (And Is) Ill-Defined

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

S.H.I.E.L.D. as a concept is a relic of the early years of the MCU. It was important as the bricks of the universe was being laid down, but S.H.I.E.L.D. was also strange and poorly defined at the start. In Iron Man, S.H.I.E.L.D. and its acronym - the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division - were treated as a joke that Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) could keep putting off meeting with. As Phase 1 continued, they often operated like Men in Black antagonists to the heroes, like when they stole the research and equipment of Dr. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) after Thor (Chris Hemsworth) first arrived on Earth or when they secretly planted Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) as a spy in Stark Industries.

Related: Agents of SHIELD Has Rewritten The History Of The MCU

Sure, fans were invited to trust Nick Fury - with the implication that since Fury is ultimately noble and dedicated to safeguarding the world, and therefore so is S.H.I.E.L.D. - but the agency was secretive, deceitful, and manipulative. Even Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) didn't entirely trust S.H.I.E.L.D. while he worked for them, and it turns out he was right to be suspicious since S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by Hydra since its inception. On television, S.H.I.E.L.D received a complex history that was laid out over the many seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, although the movies have mostly ignored both series. Going by what fans saw in the movies, despite giving us Fury, Black Widow, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't really something to root for.

Ultimately, the point of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the MCU was to be the engine that unites the Avengers. As the MCU movies marched on, however, S.H.I.E.L.D. proved to be a problematic concept; once the Avengers assembled, it had achieved its true purpose and was no longer truly necessary, hence why it was eliminated from the movies in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. S.H.I.E.L.D. remnants have been seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Nick Fury's back in the spy game as of Avengers: Infinity War, but in terms of impact Secretary of State Ross (William Hurt) has replaced them as the bureaucratic antagonists.

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Key Release Dates
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) release date: May 31, 2019
  • Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
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