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Out of a thousand young men on that ship, I was the only survivor. They told my family she was sunk in battle, but I know what I saw; it had no conscience, no reasoning, just destroy.
The Ion Dragon is a Titan that was first alluded to in the 2017 Monsterverse film Kong: Skull Island, and later featured in the 2023 Apple TV+ Monsterverse television series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, first appearing in the show's second episode entitled "Departure".
The Ion Dragon's full name goes unspoken in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, with Bill Randa and Lee Shaw simply calling it a dragon. It was provided by series co-creator and episode writer Chris Black and visual effects supervisor Sean Konrad in interviews with Newsweek published the day the episode aired.
The script for the Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode "Departure" by Chris Black included only a few mandates for the Ion Dragon: it had to look like a dragon, emit nacre, and be large enough to sink and carry a destroyer. Following the "rule of Jaws", as episode director Matt Shakman put it, Bill Randa and Keiko Miura find increasingly ominous sights aboard the USS Lawton; then, when the monster attacks, its form is gradually revealed.
Initial bird-like designs by artists at MPC, based on species from the Philippines, were deemed insufficiently frightening. The team pivoted towards a creature that would look out of place in a jungle, inspired by deep sea life as the USS Lawton would have encountered it at sea, with an anglerfish-like mouth providing a breakthrough. They sought avoid to typical dragon design elements like "neck frills, long necks, and bulky bodies." Its body was intended to resemble a gargoyle, with wings like flying fish. Raptors and sharks were other influences.
Weta created the Ion Dragon's CG model, with tests of its flight cycle leading to tweaks in its wingspan and leg length to make it more convincing. The model included a facial rig allowing it to express "rage, hunger, and [...] inquisitiveness." The company was also responsible for all of the monster's animation in the episode.
The Ion Dragon resembles a quadrupedal wyvern with piscine features. It has a wide, fish-like head with two bovine-like horns behind its eyes, two hooked growths facing downwards on its top lip, and exposed teeth that point straight. Its body is covered in shiny black scales, and gills adorn its neck. It has two dark red wings that resemble the fins of a flying fish and four-fingered hands that are positioned at the end of the arm part of the wing. The body is long and skinny, and the hindlimbs are much shorter and stubbier than the forelimbs. The end of the tail is covered by forward-facing needle-like spines, terminating in a four-pronged pincer-like claw.
In 1943, the Ion Dragon responded to a collision with a much larger destroyer by sinking it and dragging it thousands of miles west to the Philippines, killing all but one of the crew in the process. It encased many of the crew in nacre for unknown purposes, with Monarch: Legacy of Monsters visual effects supervisor Sean Konrad offering, "[M]aybe this was a nest, maybe this was a resting spot, maybe this was something that facilitated a phase in its physiology, maybe it's storing the bodies to consume at a different time." It made multiple attempts to kill Bill Randa, Keiko Miura, and Lee Shaw once finding them inside the USS Lawton, but broke off its pursuit once they reached the forest surrounding the ship.
To be added.
When Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard interrogated Monarch agent Bill Randa after he and his soldiers were attacked by Kong, Randa recalled how he was the only survivor of the USS Lawton after it was attacked by a giant monster in 1943. He described the monster as having "no reasoning, just destroy."
The Ion Dragon lived in the Philippines for centuries, commonly flying over a specific migration path. In 1943, the dragon sank the USS Lawton 200 miles west of Hawaii, killing all aboard aside from William Randa, encased its crew in nacre, and dragged the ship back to the Philippines. In 1952, Dr. Keiko Miura and Lee Shaw traveled to the Philippines following the Ion Dragon's radiation trail, although Lee initially abandoned Keiko when Bill encountered them while searching for the dragon himself. Following myths that laid out the dragon's migration path and its correlation with its last radiation signature, the duo found the USS Lawton. Keiko and Bill explored inside the ship, but decided to turn back upon finding Bill's preserved crewmates and fresh nacre. The dragon attacked shortly after, smashing through the ship and trapping Bill under debris. Lee returned and helped free Bill so all three could escape through one of the holes the creature made. Before the ship could fall over, the Ion Dragon then burst from the ship and chased the group to the edge of the clearing the boat rested in, giving up once they reached the forest. Lee, Bill, and Keiko then watched as the Ion Dragon flew back to its ship and perched on it while roaring.
The Ion Dragon is capable of flight, leaving a glowing trail of ionized radiation while doing so.
The Ion Dragon is capable of tearing through steel with its claws, as seen when it attempted to kill Bill Randa, Keiko Miura, and Lee Shaw when they were within the USS Lawton. It later burst through the ship's side with its wings.
Through unknown means, the Ion Dragon can produce nacre capable of trapping and preserving other organisms.
While talking about the fate of the USS Lawton in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, Bill Randa mentions that he and the rest of the crew initially thought they had collided with a Japanese submarine, indicating that the Ion Dragon is able to swim.
- Main article: Ion Dragon/Gallery.
- Monarch: Legacy of Monsters visual effects supervisor Sean Konrad cast some doubt on whether the Ion Dragon sank the USS Lawton, saying, "We find a creature inside the hull of the ship, but it's potentially too small to have dragged it to the middle of the jungle by itself, so is this the child of something larger, did it stumble on the ship and use it as a nest, or did it fall through one of the portal networks that we know exist in the canon? Or is there some other possibility that isn't immediately evident?" However, he treated the monster as the ship's slayer elsewhere in the same interview.
- Wyatt Russell, who plays the younger Lee Shaw in the series, has cited the Ion Dragon as his favorite Titan of the show.
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