Taking on a character as big as the Monitor is no easy feat, but LaMonica Garrett had one thing calming his nerves. He was the first.
“What was comforting to know was that nobody’s ever tackled him before, nobody’s ever brought him to life,” Garrett tells Fandom. “Usually people have the character being a challenge in itself, and then you have to deal with the people that played that character. Anybody that does Joker will be compared to Heath Ledger. This will be the first time someone’s breathed life into Monitor.”
Garrett’s Monitor is one of the core villains in the hotly anticipated annual Arrowverse crossover, titled “Elseworlds.” The three-parter finds Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in a body-swap situation where they’re the only two that know something’s wrong. Garrett found out he got the part of the all-powerful DC character after a lengthy interview process. Even after he got it, he still didn’t know who he would actually be playing in the crossover.
“I still didn’t know who the character was,” he says. “I read dummy sides, and they don’t like putting all the information out. They played it pretty close to the vest. After I got the job I reached out and was like ‘I still don’t know who I’m playing.’”
When the showrunners revealed he’d be playing Monitor, Garrett’s past experience with comics prompted even more questions.
“They said [the character I’d be playing] was the Monitor, and I was like, ‘Well, which Monitor? Is it Nix Uotan, is it the modern version?’ I wanted to know the angle they were going. When they said it was this Monitor from Crisis, my head immediately went to Anti-Monitor, it went to Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Rebel With a Cause
As he prepared to become the first person to bring the Monitor to life, he of course turned to staples like Crisis on Infinite Earths as resources – but he also looked elsewhere to find ways to inform his character.
“I researched some Marlon Brando, I researched some Robert De Niro, and I researched some Denzel Washington.”
All of those actors have a history playing some morally dubious character. Garrett said that the best villains are ones who think they’re the heroes, which is how he viewed Monitor in the crossover.
“He does some bad things but he does it for a greater cause,” Garrett says. “He has his way of going about things. In the Arrowverse version, they stick pretty true to that. He’s not good or evil – it’s hard to classify him in that way. He does some things that are a little shady, but at the end of the crossover you’ll see he’s doing everything he’s doing.”
The Monitor Finds Something Different
Monitor’s eventual dust-up with Green Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) won’t be his first encounter with superheroes. A teaser at the end of last week’s Supergirl and The Flash showed a devastated Earth-90 and a number of dead heroes. The only survivor is John Wesley Shipp’s ‘90s-era Flash, who shares some words with Monitor before racing off – presumably to warn our heroes. Garrett says the Monitor quickly becomes interested in Green Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl.
“He’s looking for something different, and whoever sparks that different energy for his greater purpose is what he’s looking for,” Garrett said. “Earth-90 wasn’t the first Earth he’d been to and destroyed. In the crossover, he sees something different in these heroes that he didn’t see in other Earths, and that’s what sparks his change of energy.”
That same interest doesn’t extend to John Deegan, a doctor at Arkham Asylum who Monitor works with to mess with the heroes.
“John Deegan’s a means to an end,” says Garrett. “Every Earth that Monitor visits, he finds his John Deegan-type person to help fulfill what needs to be done.”
Could Small and Big Screens Come Together?
Ultimately, what made Garrett so excited for the role – and why he thinks the Monitor has remained such a popular character over the years – is the possibilities that come with him showing up.
“Crisis is one of greatest stories in DC history. The significance of that story, and he was a key figure in that story, has held him in high regard over time,” Garrett said. “There are people who want to see the TV world and the extended universe in films merge together. What would happen if both Flash’s were on screen together, or bringing in different Superman’s from other realities? That’s why as fans we read comic books. To see the craziest situations play out live, and the Monitor had something to do with that back in the ‘80s, that we’re seeing play out now.”