The Cloverfield Paradox is supposed to be the latest addition to the Cloverfield franchise, yet after having seen it, I can now conclude that the term “Cloverfield” is really just another way of saying “elaborate monster movie” ‒ or so the initial plots want you to think. After looking further into each film in the trilogy and their seemingly individualized plot lines, I was able to find that there really is a deeper connection within all three, one that can only be found by immersing yourself into the overarching idea of “the parallel universe.”
Since 2008, the term “Cloverfield” has been used both to refer to the first-person point of view thriller that started it all, as well as the specific monster that plays a very modern King-Kong and attacks New York City unexpectedly within the film itself. The first film hit theatres and was automatically a success, based on its inventive way of storytelling through the direct perspective of four college students on a home recording device.
Eight years later, after the wide success of the first, came the unexpected second film of the series, 10 Cloverfield Lane, starring John Goodman (Argo, Flight) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim v. The World), where a girl gets kidnapped and held in a shelter with two men that claim the outside world has been tainted with a chemical virus. After watching the sequel in its entirety, fans were enraged that the producers could just slap the name Cloverfield on the film and expect the success of the first to be carried over onto a plot line that had nothing to do with the monster, nor the time period of the attack. And it wasn’t until two years later in 2018 that the questions were answered with the Netflix original, The Cloverfield Paradox.
The film acts as a prequel to the original Cloverfield, explaining what put the monster on Earth in the first place by introducing a galactic mess of international scientists who are trying to solve the planet’s energy crisis before they go into apocalyptic war. The scientists run into a problem when one of the parts of the ship gets too energized and explodes, sending the ship into an alternate reality, a reality that could be seen as a parallel universe.
With the release of The Cloverfield Paradox having more similarities than the second, yet not enough to clearly state the resemblance between storylines, fans are still confused about the connection and the why the three movies were grouped together under the same name. In an interview with ComicBookMovie Magazine, producer of all three, JJ Abrams, responds to the recurring question by saying, “On the one hand you can say, ‘Well then anything anywhere could be a Cloverfield movie,’ but the intention has never been to take a movie and then slap Cloverfield on it. The idea was to say Cloverfield is a kind of umbrella, you know, under which all of sorts of genres and thrill rides can take place.’”
Taking Abrams’ perspective on the Cloverfield franchise allowed me to then look back at each film with more depth, rather than the initial plot I absorbed during my first watch through. After watching each film a second time, and with this thought of Cloverfield being an idea rather than a plot, it allowed me to see each film as its own reality, especially the relationship between the first and second. If the third is intended to be the prequel in the Cloverfield timeline, yet takes place in a parallel universe, then the first and second Cloverfield films could possibly take place within their own parallel universes. This idea of Cloverfield as a whole, rather than a specific thing makes the franchise more immersive and makes the term “Cloverfield” mean much more than what someone can figure out with just one look.
Rachel Blumberg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org