Someone on Twitter declared that THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX was the kind of movie that was more fun to talk about to watch. Sadly, I cannot remember who said it. Sadly, I can also report that they are right.
BUT! I take my fun where I can find it. Sooooooooooo, here we go! Let’s talk about it.
The Cloverfield Worlds
Let’s say this off the top: the three CLOVERFIELD films take place in different worlds. CLOVERFIELD’s world is not 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE’s world is not THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX’s two worlds. Or to make it more accurate, they’re all different Earths in different universes.
CLOVERFIELD and 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE resemble each other quite a bit at the start. They are not, however, the same Earth. For one, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) clearly is living in a world that is not post-Cloverfield monster destroying the East Coast. There are no references to it and Howard (John Goodman) definitely would’ve cited it for evidence that what he is warning her about is, in fact, real.
The threat is also different. The aliens in question come from above, not below the ocean. So what menaces Michelle on the farm is not the same thing that wrecked all of New York City.
Moving to PARADOX, we have two worlds to look at. We can say fairly straight away that neither of these Earths are CLOVERFIELD or 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. Even the ending of PARADOX, with the Cloverfield monster emerging from the clouds, confirms this. For one, this monster is in Denver, evidently, and also far, far too large. The Cloverfield monster of the first film is smaller than several buildings in New York and is explicitly shouted out as a baby of its species in extra materials. He or she is not piercing the sky, even with the mountains help.
Additionally, there is a reference near the end of the movie that “they’re” here, implying a multitude of monsters. CLOVERFIELD is clearly, at least at the moment of the film, only dealing with one beast and its “fleas.” (I love the idea that PARADOX’s home Earth, as the trigger point, gets all the dangers that come to attack the other Cloverfield Earths but we can talk more about that later.)
Returning to PARADOX alone, from the moment we know there are two Earths, we know they are not the same. For one, there are different people sent on the space mission. For another, Ava Hamilton (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is doubled in the worlds. Finally, the second world, where crewmate turned brief wall filling Mina Jensen (Elizabeth Debicki) hails from, is clearly farther down the road to destruction.
The Cloverfield Timelines
What is unclear is if Earth-1 (where the Shepherd—the laser thingee—exists) and Earth-2 (where it does not) exist at roughly the same time in history. In other words, have things gotten worse quicker in Earth-2 due to a lack of a Shepherd or have they been living with the energy crisis longer, letting the spark of antagonism grow into the flamers of war.
What we do know is that these two Earths are definitely more in the future than the Earths of CLOVERFIELD and LANE. Again, this hinges on the energy crisis and technology. Both of PARADOX’s Earths have nearly consumed all of their natural resources, a state that, clearly, neither LANE Earth nor CLOVERFIELD Earth is dealing with. Additionally, again assuming CLOVERFIELD and LANE occur roughly in the year they were made, the technology for the Shepherd is so beyond anything that exists in those worlds.
The Hadron Collider—the Shepherd’s closest cousin existing today--is so massive it has to live underground in its own building. The Shepherd, on the other hand, is small enough to be mounted on a spaceship and rocketed into space.
It is also tremendously more powerful than the Hadron, a fact spoonfed us by a talking head on TV. Thus, it is significant smaller while also being wildly more powerful. No way for it is exist in “present day.”
Other signs of the future include the viewer screens with its ability to project on windows, the communication system, and the space station itself. Ava’s husband Michael (Roger Davies) also uses a phone at one point that looks next gen.
[EDITED TO ADD: Also, PARADOX is apparently mentioned to explicitly occur in 2028. Which is a dumb detail to miss. But does serve to make clear that since the tech it has is more advanced than in the other films, they most likely take place before 2028.)
As alluded to above, CLOVERFIELD and 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE are approximately occurring at the same time in our real timeline as the time they came out. That’s why cell phone and video tech—as well as briefly glimpsed things like cars and weapons—is roughly congruent with our present day (2008 and 2016, respectively). Another example of how they aren’t Earth-1 or Earth-2 and not each other’s Earths either.
Just quickly, to summarize, CLOVERFIELD Earth is attacked by, fittingly, the Cloverfield monster. So is Earth-1. However, as noted above, Earth-1’s monster is bigger, presumably an adult to CLOVERFIELD’s child. Additionally, it did not come by itself whereas in CLOVERFIELD, the monster is only accompanied by comparatively small parasitic or symbiotic creatures. Whether that means more Cloverfields in PARADOX or something else remains unclear.
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE has the all too human monster of Howard in the bunker and the aliens above. These aliens are not the Cloverfield monster and, I believe, not related in any way.
It is unclear if anything is befalling Earth-2. The space station’s strange actions could be a product of dimensional merge and separation with Eath-1 or it could be a sign of something else, a being or force come through the hole ripped in reality that Mark Stambler (Donal Logue, more on him later) warns about. It isn’t as visible as the monster or the aliens so we don’t realize it but perhaps it is the cause of the crew’s woes, not the dimensional switch. Or, at least, not JUST the dimensional switch.
The Cloverfield Connections
There are actually relatively few explicit connections. The most obvious is, of course, the Cloverfield monster(s). First appearing in CLOVERFIELD and then emerging above the cloud cover in PARADOX, it is the city—and possibly world—destroying brute who survives conventional and nuclear weapons and keeps on destroying.
The second, and more intriguing to me, is Mark Stambler who shares a last name and interest with satellites with Howard Stambler from LANE. Father-son, perhaps? Uncle-nephew? Grandfather-grandson? In any case, I doubt the last name is an accident.
We also have more Slusho stuff. But then, we see that in nearly all Abrams projects.
Everything else I have to offer, connection-wise, is minor but at least worth mentioning.
In LANE, the incident—most likely an invasion—is mentioned to have started after a red flash in the sky. In PARADOX, we see the Shepherd’s purple light go red just before they leap into a different companion universe. We don’t see that flash or hear mention of it in CLOVERFIELD, but they don’t go upstairs until after the monster makes his noisy debut so it’s possible everyone at the party just missed it.
Several sites pointed out that Michael takes shelter in a bunker that, geographically, could have been around the same area as Howard’s suggesting that perhaps it was Howard’s. Although the shelter is owned by a friend of Michael’s named Peter, it is possible Peter got the home after Howard died—as PARADOX takes place years after LANE, most likely—or that in PARADOX this Howard, absent the attack he expect, just sold his property to Peter at some point feeling he wouldn’t need it after all. However, the whole thing looked so little like Howard’s bunker I’m betting they’re just two underground shelters.
Even more tenuously, the reporter interviewing Mark about his book and the woman who begs for entry in the bunker are played by the same actress. With her facial scarring, it is hard to say that bunker woman is not a younger version of reporter woman who continued to rise in the ranks of onscreen news coverage in the years that separate the PARADOX and LANE realities without an alien vision to scorch her.
The Cloverfield Future
As you have no doubt heard, there is apparently a fourth CLOVERFIELD film due out later this year. It is currently called OVERLORD—I’d bet on that changing—and is set to be released in October. Given PARADOX getting pushed back, it is possible they might do the same with OVERLORD but it is apparently all done filming already and Abrams still expects it to be released on time.
OVERLORD takes place in WORLD WAR II as American troops attempt to take a Nazi occupied town and encounter the supernatural instead. To take a wild uninformed guess at these, I’m going to say they’re demons. Stambler calls them out by name and they’re supernatural so it fits.
OVERLORD’s historical setting also reinforces Stambler and my theories. Stambler predicted that the Shepherd would not only cause chaos across alternate worlds but also up and down the timelines. So LANE Earth finds itself under attack in 2016, CLOVERFIELD Earth in 2008, Earth-1 (and maybe 2) in 2028, and OVERLORD somewhere around mid-year 1944.
The Cloverfield Predictions
Beyond the ones I’ve already recklessly made? Not many.
If OVERLORD lands well, I predict that the universe will continue, possibly in a similar way: absorbing other movies not conceived as being explicitly CLOVERFIELD movies but can easily be connected via title and the fact that the paradox allows for different universes and time. Success then, of course, will depend on whether or not Abrams, et al, can resist the temptation to overload scripts with connections and stapled on scenes.
Less a prediction and more a thing I think would be neat is Earth-1 becoming a sort of menagerie world. Every possible monster, demon, alien that we might see as the headliner disaster in a separate movie also bedevils Earth-1. So while LANE Earth has aliens, CLOVERFIELD Earth has the same named monster, and OVERLORD theoretically has demons, Earth-1 has all those. And possibly more.