With the surprise announcement/release of The Cloverfield Paradox following this year’s Super Bowl, countless reviewers, and blogs set about piecing together the various fragments and Easter Eggs to construct a clear-cut timeline for the franchise. Unfortunately, while many key details and connections have been uncovered, the biggest discovery has been that, frankly, they don’t fit together. The reason? A little pain in the ass known as the multi-verse theory… Thus, having just rewatched the three-film series (until next year’s Cloverfield: Overlord comes out -more on that later) and completed several hours of research, I’m here to try and make sense of the chaos and give you my Cloverfield timeline.

 

Cloverfield (2008)

In 2008, J.J. Abrams’ secret project, codenamed “Cloverfield” ran an ingenious marketing campaign. Beyond the fact that we knew it was going to be a “found footage” monster film set in New York City, there was next to nothing else in the way of details. Unless that is, you dug into the viral marketing for the film. The studio created everything from fake websites, newscasts, and even emails. It was through these extra tidbits that we learned of the Tagruato corporation, whose deep sea oil drilling reportedly awakened the Cloverfield monster in the first place. Tagruato is never specifically named in Cloverfield, but its logo can be seen on an oil tanker sinking just outside Manhattan when Rob, Jason, and the others are trying to flee the city on the Brooklyn Bridge. Fun fact: both Tagruato and its child-company, Slusho, appear in several of J.J. Abrams and studio Bad Robot’s projects -including Star Trek. Make of that what you will…

Now, I hear what you’re saying. “Okay, that’s nice and all, but is there anything else that contextually proves the inclusion of these companies was more than a simple Easter Egg?” Why yes, dear reader. Allow me to explain.

We learn in Cloverfield that Rob, our protagonist, is moving to Japan to become the Vice President of a soft drink company -a company we later learn through contextual clues is Slusho. His brother Jason can even be seen wearing a Slusho shirt in the film. As for the company’s connection to the story beyond Rob’s departure, we learn from the viral campaign that Slusho is owned by Tagruato and that its secret ingredient is sea-bed nectar from the ocean floor. That last detail should probably strike you as -at the very least- an interesting coincidence. But in case you need more convincing, allow me to expound. Numerous fan theories have drawn connections to the Slusho secret ingredient and Cloverfield monster thanks to the Slusho corporate website launched in 2008 as part of the film’s ad campaign. In the comments section of the site, fan quotes played from an animated talking mouth – or rather a talking pig inside the mout- you know what, that detail doesn’t really matter. Let’s just focus on the quote in particular.

Slusho makes my stomach explode with happy!!

The fan theory suggests that when Marlena is bitten by one of the Cloverfield parasites in the subway tunnel (the smaller creatures that detach from the larger monster’s body), she gets nauseous, tentatively placing her hand over her belly. Moments later, she begins to bleed from her eyes and is swept into another room where we see the stomach of her silhouette swell impossibly and then burst with a spray of blood. Could this just be another coincidence? Perhaps. But if “Clovie” and his little pals really came from the bottom of the ocean, and part of what makes Slusho so addicting is its secret sea-bed nectar, there could be a connection of some kind. Maybe these creatures have fed off this nectar for some time, making it highly concentrated in their saliva. Or, perhaps they somehow produce this nectar, and that’s why too much Slusho makes one’s stomach “explode” with happy.

The final noteworthy detail in Cloverfield is the final shot, dated April 27th. In it, we see Rob and Beth at Coney Island as what looks like a satellite crashes into the water unnoticed. It’s subtle, but it’s there if you really look for it. Rewatching these films, I initially considered this to be a connection point to the events of The Cloverfield Paradox, but further research dismissed the possibility. In the movie’s virtual game, Tagruato releases a statement confirming the following:

Tagruato used the Hatsui satellite to try to identify a rogue piece that is thought to have fallen off of the Japaense Government’s “ChimpanzIII” satellite.

 

10 Cloverfield Lane

One important note regarding this film off the bat: much like the later Cloverfield Paradox, it was not initially planned to be part of the Cloverfield universe. As such, adjustments were made to fit it at least somewhat into the franchise. Because of this, J.J. Abrams has called 10 Cloverfield Lane a “blood relative” of the 2008 entry.

Just as they did before, Bad Robot launched a viral campaign for the film, reviving Tagruato’s corporate websites, complete with a “Staff” section. Here, we learn that Howard Stambler, played by John Goodman, works for another Tagruato company known as Bold Futura as a Telemetry Analyst. This draws a parallel between the satellite debris seen at the end of Cloverfield to Howard, working for a Tagruato company. Also interesting is that Bold Futura’s website states that they provide tech for both military use and space exploration- another connection.

As part of his job monitoring satellites, Howard would’ve known about the extraterrestrial signals in 10 Cloverfield Lane. This establishes his motivation for creating a doom’s day shelter beneath his farm. As far as connections to the other films, that’s about all there is as far as I can tell. It’s also the only installment completely devoid of the Cloverfield monster, with the immense coincidence of Howard living at 10 Cloverfield Lane.

 

The Cloverfield Paradox

Ah yes, here we are: at the crux of understanding for this entire timeline. Only, we’re not, really. While The Cloverfield Paradox does provide us with an origin to the Cloverfield monster, it ultimately opens quite literally infinite possibilities, making it exceedingly difficult to fit all the pieces together. All the same, I’ll give it a shot.

Once again referring to viral marketing, albeit far less viral marketing this time around, we learn from “decoded” Tagruato documents that The Cloverfield Paradox begins in the year 2028. In this future, a severe energy crisis is threatening the entire planet, with resources expected to be depleted within 5 years. To battle this, the Tagruato corporation is contracted to build the Shepard particle accelerator and Cloverfield space station, on which a team of scientific experts from all across the globe will attempt to tap into the Higgs Boson, or “God” particle to harness unlimited energy. Before the film was tweaked to fit into the Cloverfield universe, it was actually titled “The God Particle.” The Cloverfield story elements were only added once producer J.J. Abrams became involved later in its process and reshoots were scheduled.

After nearly 700 days and 47 failed attempts, tensions begin to mount among the crew of the Cloverfield. Far below, the planet is on the brink of war and starvation. Understanding they only have the fuel for 2 or 3 more attempts, they make alterations to their equation and prepare to try again. It’s here where things get interesting. While the team goes through their final preparations, the onboard doctor, Monk, turns on a live news report. On this segment, a conspiracy theorist named Mark Stambler questions the safety of their mission. The author of The Cloverfield Paradox, Stambler warns of grave consequences should the team keep attempting to harness the God Particle. If that name sounds familiar, it should. John Goodman’s character in 10 Cloverfield Lane is Howard Stambler, suggesting at the very least some kind of familial ties.

But that’s not all. The news anchor Stambler is speaking with is played by the same actress who tried to break into Howard’s bunker as Michelle attempted to escape. Does this suggest she not only survived but went on to become a successful newswoman? Nope. Hang tight though, we’re getting there.

Back to Mark for a second. Stambler warns that the power of the particle accelerator is so strong (approximately 1,000 times stronger than any previously built), that every time the crew tests it, they risk tearing open space-time, effectively shredding the fabric of the universe not only on their station but everywhere, and across all time. The present. The future. Even the past…

This experiment could unleash chaos the likes of which we have never seen. Monsters, demons, beasts from the sea…

As is prophetic, Mark’s fears are proven true as the crew activates the particle accelerator and the beam quickly becomes unstable, overloading the Shepard. This leads to the ship being ripped from its reality and cast into another, landing somewhere beyond the sun. What’s more, this new universe is quite similar their own, save for a handful of notable differences. The most significant among these is that the Cloverfield of this reality was sabotaged by the lead physicist, Schmidt, after war broke out on Earth and his German government demanded he keep the Shepard (the particle accelerator) offline until Russia could be neutralized. In the process, that Cloverfield station failed and crashed back to the planet, killing everyone on board, save for the engineer, who strangely appears trapped within the walls the main crew’s Cloverfield station.

After some time, it seems as though the Universe itself becomes aware of the abnormality of this second Cloverfield crew and begins to take them out one by one as though it was a Final Destination flick. In the end, only two crew members survive and make it back to their Universe -we think- by firing the accelerator again. Upon doing this, they appear once more where they were last seen and establish a connection with central command. Back in their world with a stable energy beam, they believe they’ve effectively saved all of humanity. The two inform central command of their success and are forced to take their leave from the station due to its rapidly depleting power.

Taking one of the escape pods, the pair descends through the atmosphere just as Hamilton’s husband is informed of her impending return. Rather than be happy, he is instead horrified and furious that central command wouldn’t warn her of the dangers with “those things” everywhere. The use of plurality here suggests there may well be more than one Cloverfield monster in this timeline, and the reality of just how horrifying that could be is made clear in the next shot. As Hamilton and Schimdt’s pod breaks through the clouds, an enormous Cloverfield monster crests the clouds and releases a deafening roar. This particular creature stands head and shoulders above the clouds, making it at least thousands of feet tall. For the same of comparison, the Cloverfield monster seen in 2008 was estimated to be 250-300 feet in height.

So, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get down to brass tax!

 

Figuring it out

As Mark Stambler’s interview warned, the Shepard accelerator ultimately opened a tear in the space-time continuum. This not only resulted in the crew being cast into another reality but created a portal of sorts through which the Cloverfield monster arrived on Earth. As the ripples cascade through time, it’s only logical that each film is in fact set in a different reality, with 2028 being the nexus point that damned them all.

We saw in the secondary reality of Paradox that the crew was mostly the same, but with a different engineer and extra crew member. This doesn’t mean that the two people are the same, but rather that different decisions, a la the Butterfly effect, resulted in slightly different outcomes. Mark Stambler may simply be this reality’s Howard Stambler. The news reporter in Paradox may have been a farmer’s neighbor, as Howard says. Or, they may simply be similar variations. This becomes even more clear when looking at the disasters and attacks of each film.

In 2008, a single, believe it or not- INFANT- Cloverfield monster ravaged New York City after appearing deep within the ocean. In 2016, the Cloverfield monster itself isn’t seen, but an alien invasion of some kind is launched, prompting Howard to build a doom’s day bunker. Whether or not the aliens would follow in 2008 or 2028 is unclear. Finally, in 2028, where it all began, the worst is seen, as God knows how many fully grown Cloverfield monsters are unleashed to decimate an already devastated planet. This is simply the only possibility as the timeline doesn’t fit otherwise.

My initial prediction upon rewatching Cloverfield was that the “satellite” seen crashing to the ocean in Rob’s video was going to be revealed to be Hamilton and Schmidt unintentionally jumping to a third reality rather than back to their own. This is undermined, however, by the absence of the enormous Cloverfield monster which breaks through the clouds and the total lack of an energy crisis in the first place, which means the central command they spoke with before departing the Cloverfield wouldn’t even exist.

It also explains how Cloverfield 4: Overlord is reportedly going to be set in 1945 the night before the D-Day Invasion… Yep, you read that correctly. We’re getting the Cloverfield monster in WWII.

So, that’s the Cloverfield timeline in a nutshell. The main problem I have with it is that, as individual pieces of separate timelines, there is literally nothing beyond simple Easter Egg placements necessary to draw the continuity together now. What happens in 1945 in one film has zero impact on what happens in 2008 or 2016, or any other film. And while this allows each film’s director to experiment and re-imagine his own Cloverfield world, it also denies us a clear narrative or satisfactory conclusion to the franchise as a whole.

 

Are there more Cloverfield connections between the three films that we missed? Let us know below!


Darreck W. Kirby

Founder of The Dallas Prospect, Darreck took a love for writing, analysis, and sports and brought them together in one site. Whether tracking the latest Cowboys stats and trends or breaking down film analysis for the latest flick, Darreck does it all.