With the release of the third film in the Cloverfield Quasi-Universe, it seems time to reflect back on how potentially these films might tie together, but how also, ultimately, it doesn't matter as the fun is in the mystery.
With Cloverfield, J.J. Abrams has constructed a world of possibilities. A world of deep sea monsters awakened by Japanese scientists in their quest to craft the perfect beverage. A world of terror and bunkers, with radiation poisoning and massive alien creatures. A world of parallel universes that look terrifyingly close to the destruction we might actually face one day; oh, and there's monsters in this one too.
So what does it all mean? How does it connect? I spent more time as a young adult combing through the abyss that was the internet after receiving odd products at San Diego Comic Con one year, finding websites with images of destruction, links to Japanese websites and a satellite that they had lost contact with. All of this lead up to an either exhilarating or nauseating experience for viewers. For me, I was exhilarated. Upon watching the film, I had almost fewer answers than before. Did they destroy the monster? Would it be back? Was that an egg or a satellite falling in the background? (Clearly it was the satellite that the Slusho company had lost track of. Or was it the escape pod from the end of Cloverfield Paradox?)
Abrams likes mysteries. He likes them so much he often starts the mystery and walks away completely, leaving his franchises to lesser men. Or at least men who can't necessarily pull of the chaos of mystery quite like Abrams.
So here's my theory about the connection. (I know the easy answer is to say it's all a paradox now and alternate timelines and whatnot. But that's too easy. I expect more of Abrams and the Cloverfield franchise. I probably shouldn't, but I do.) Cloverfield happened. That monster was awakened by whatever the Slusho parent corporation was doing in the deep sea. That creature attacked (or really just wandered onto land) after being awakened and/or annoyed by a falling satellite from the same parent corp. as Slusho. New York managed to survive, destroying the monster. Or it slithered back into the sea. Something. After such an insane occurrence, people start building bunkers.
Enter 10 Cloverfield Lane. Yes, people think he's a little eccentric for his bunker, even though there was a REAL LIVE MONSTER ATTACK, but let's be real. People forget fast. Goodman-Bundy kidnaps a woman claiming to save her from whatever nonsense he believes is going to happen. She thinks he's crazy. She breaks out. She discovers that he was in fact evil, but he was in fact right. There are giant aliens in the sky!
Move the Cloverfield Paradox. The world is running out of power, why? Maybe because storm wielding aliens attacked the planet! Now earth is forced to find alternative forms of fuel before the entire world erupts into war and chaos. Because that's how humans respond to external threats, war and chaos with one another. With a supercollider in space, the International Space Station (Because that's totally what it is) is launched into an alternate timeline where earth has already erupted into war and Zemo is in fact evil. They manage to get back to their timeline. Power is restored to earth. People are hiding in bunkers (seriously, why would there be bunkers if none of the other movies had happened??). And a very angry husband asks, "Why are you having them come here where these things are?!" What are these things? We get one final shot of their pod soaring through the sky and the Cloverfield monster breaks through the clouds.
To me, this is one cyclical monster adventure.
And I'm probably wrong. I highly doubt that there is a thought map somewhere that outlines this universe. I think more than likely films that can be turned spook-y or monster-y or scifi-y are and are given the moniker "Cloverfield." And you know what? I don't care. I love it.
Why do I love it? Because Abrams sucked me into his mystery box nonsense years ago. He sent me on wild goose chases through the internet, made me sit through a football game to get to a film, he created a frenzy for something simply because of the name and the insane way with which he releases them. And I enjoy that. I never know exactly what I'll get with a Cloverfield movie, but that's exactly why I watch. In a 2007 Ted Talk, Abrams said, “What are stories, but mystery boxes? . . . What’s a bigger mystery box than a movie theater? You go to the theater, you’re just so excited to see anything — the moment the lights go down is often the best part." What's the best part of Cloverfield? When the lights go out. When you anticipate just what could be. When you think on what might come next. He's created an entire franchise built on the promise of mystery with almost no concrete answers.