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At the end of 10 Cloverfield Lane, which is set in Louisiana, there wasn’t doubt that the movie fit with the first film. It was unclear how many different monsters attacked Earth, how much they had spread across the country, how humans had managed to fight back, and what was next. But at least all of it was happening on the same planet in a linear timeline. After watching The Cloverfield Paradox that assumption is wrong. Now, none of the three films in the franchise have taken place in the same dimension, although they are all connected by the same catastrophic event.

To understand why, we first need to review what we know–and what we thought we knew. The original Cloverfield took place in New York on Friday, May 22, 2008. That film’s monster arrived on Earth in some kind of crash from space on April 27th (though we don’t know exactly what it was that landed off the Atlantic coast). By Saturday afternoon, May 23, New York was basically gone, bombed by the U.S. government in an attempt to kill the creature. But a radio transmission in the credits revealed it likely had survived.

The creature’s survival was the catalyst for the beginning of 10 Cloverfield Lane, in which John Goodman’s character Howard “rescues” Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle and brings her to his fallout shelter. A fellow bunker survivor, Emmett, tells Michelle he fled to the shelter after seeing a red flash in the sky, which seems to confirm Howard’s theory that there has been a chemical or nuclear attack, either by another country or possibly aliens. While Michelle’s doubts grew about Howard, who might have run her off the road, a woman covered in some kind of rash tried to get into the shelter and made Michelle believe his story.

At the end, when Michelle kills Howard after realizing he’s a monster himself and she escapes, she finds the air isn’t contaminated at all and everything is totally fine. Then an alien spaceship controlled by a huge tentacled creature shows up, along with another smaller four-legged alien.

There is never a clear time period established in 10 Cloverfield Lane, but the ending shows the war from Cloverfield has expanded in the time Michelle has been in the bunker, and there are way more monsters attacking than we realized, and these ones are totally different from the original movie.

But The Cloverfield Paradox doesn’t just call all of that into question. It’s now far more likely those two movies aren’t taking place on the same Earth, but rather in different planes of existence. They are similar planets–both with a United States–but they simultaneously exist in a different dimension across the multiverse.

Paradox takes place sometime in the near future. The opening tells us “the world’s energy resources will be fully exhausted within five years,” which wasn’t true in 2008 and isn’t true now. Then the Shephard goes to space and has two years of failures before successfully firing their particle accelerator. Right before that happens though we hear from an author on Earth about why this entire experiment poses an existential crisis to mankind everywhere–and we mean everywhere.

“Every time they test it they risk ripping open the membrane of space time, smashing together multiple dimensions, shattering reality, and not just on that station–everywhere. This experiment could unleash chaos, the likes of which we have never seen, monsters, demons, beasts from the sea. And not just here and now–in the past, in the future, in other dimensions.”

He’s right of course, and the Shephard disappears into another dimension while the Earth they leave behind is suddenly attacked by huge monsters, just like in the original Cloverfield. But we know that’s not the same Earth from that movie, because it happens years in the future and everyone on Earth is caught off guard. If monsters attack the planet today we won’t be surprised if it happens again 15 or 20 years from now.

We also see the alternate second Earth in Paradox isn’t endangered by monsters (just World War III), so that planet isn’t connected to the first two movies either. But what this does indicate is that the “success” of the Shephard has done exactly what the author warned of, and has unleashed monsters and beasts across multiple dimensions and timelines. That means the attacks in Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane were likely caused by this event, even though it happened in the future in another dimension.

The Shephard ripped open the membrane of space time, and caused monsters to attack across different planes of existence. That’s why Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle saw creatures that were totally different from what we knew, and why there was so much confusion over what was happening in that film. There was no initial attack in New York City to warn the world on this planet; that only happened on the Earth in Cloverfield.

The humongous monster seen at the end of Paradox, far bigger than the original movie’s skyscraper-sized creature, might have been the biggest yet because it was the Earth in the Shephard’s own dimension. Maybe being closer to the cataclysm resulted in drawing the biggest beasts.

The rules of this multiverse event are so wide it means anything could show up anywhere–at any time, which means we probably won’t ever see the same monsters twice. But we’ll know what caused it, and that every time we get a new Cloverfield movie, everything is related to this one event.

What do you think? How do the multiverses connect? Hit the particle accelerator on your keyboard and share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Images: Bad Robot Productions

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