Cloverfield 4 needs to fix the franchise’s confused continuity. Released in 2008, Cloverfield has just seen its 15th anniversary, causing a resurgence in discussions about the revolutionary monster movie, which detailed the tragic events of one night in New York City, during which a mysterious monster, designed by concept designer Neville Page, rampaged through the city. J. J. Abrams continued his franchise with the releases of 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Cloverfield Paradox, spiritual sequels to the found-footage film that expanded Cloverfield’s mythos, while also seriously confusing the continuity of the franchise.
A dedicated sequel to Cloverfield was announced in 2018, following the release of The Cloverfield Paradox, with The Lazarus Project’s Joe Barton attached to pen a script for the fourth installment. Through all the previous films, the origins of Cloverfield’s strange monster, named Clover, were kept hidden, though promotional material connected to the original 2008 film seemed to confirm that the creature was of terrestrial origin, being awoken from deep below the ocean’s surface and leading to its confused rampage through New York. However, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves has recently offered a different story, which only makes the franchise’s continuity even more of a mess.
Speaking to SYFY Wire in the lead-up to Cloverfield’s 15th anniversary, director Matt Reeves was asked about the origins of the iconic monster, and finally provided a definite answer to the mysteries surrounding the creature. When asked, “was [the monster] of this planet or is it alien?,” Reeves replied with the definitive, “it’s alien.” He even expanded on a scene shown at the end of Cloverfield, which sees a mysterious object fall from the sky while Rob (Michael Stahl-David) and Beth (Odette Yustman) were taking a trip to Coney Island, with Reeves stating this was “the meteor flying down and hitting the ocean.”
Cloverfield’s characters theorized during the film about the origins of the monster terrorizing New York, with ideas floating around about whether it could be alien, or a creature from deep in the ocean, as it’s not truly known what actually resides beneath the sea. Even so, it was never actually explained during Cloverfield, so the origins of the creature were left completely up to interpretation. Alongside Cloverfield, marketing material was released in the form of websites and puzzles that avid fans could uncover, taking the form of the Cloverfield ARG (Alternate Reality Game), which Reeves new comments now wholly contradict.
The Cloverfield ARG revealed that Tagruato, a mining company that also helped with the building of several satellites, discovered the existence of the Clover monster in 2007 while drilling under the ocean. Tagruato sent up their own satellites with technology that can photograph deep-sea crevices, as well as setting up a mining station near New York City, causing many to believe that the company was onto something. The ARG also revealed organizations such as TIDO Wave, an environmental activist group fighting Tagruato, and Slusho!, a popular drink produced by the shady company.
Matt Reeves’ new Cloverfield comments seem to confirm that the monster is of alien origin, but the storyline laid out in the ARG tells a completely different story, and has been the known canon of the franchise for a number of years. In the ARG, Tagruato’s mining team discovered creatures sleeping beneath the ocean, with a baby being awoken by a falling satellite, which can be seen during Cloverfield’s Coney Island scene. This story was all but confirmed thanks to The Cloverfield Paradox, as conspiracy theorist Mark Stambler (Donal Logue) informed news teams that the actions on board the Cloverfield Station would awaken “beasts from the sea.”
After its release, 10 Cloverfield Lane received a huge amount of praise for expanding the Cloverfield universe in an unexpected way, bringing new creatures into the fold in an intense, psychological story. However, The Cloverfield Paradox tried to tie all the installments of the franchise together, suggesting that it was the Cloverfield team’s accidental interdimensional travel that caused the creatures to pop up throughout the universe. The overarching storyline of the Cloverfield franchise has only become more confusing with each project, probably not helped by the lack of a direct through-line, since Abrams had a talent for taking on unrelated scripts and molding them into Cloverfield projects.
Matt Reeves’ new comments seem to be retconning the believed origins of the monster, and even the plot laid out in The Cloverfield Paradox, since both of those suggested that the creature was from beneath the sea. Though many are excited about a fourth film, and the fact that this new project will be a direct sequel to Cloverfield, the story is becoming harder and harder to follow as the franchise develops. This means that Cloverfield 4 has a lot of work to do, not only having to recover from Reeves’ interview with an actual explanation, but also having to combine the Cloverfield projects in a way that makes sense.
Not much has yet been revealed about Cloverfield 4, but the upcoming project needs to lay out a true continuity for the Cloverfield franchise. By providing some actual answers, Cloverfield 4 can make sense of previous projects’ mismatched plots, explaining why exactly the creatures featured in 10 Cloverfield Lane weren’t the same as in Cloverfield, and answering questions about whether it really was the events of The Cloverfield Paradox which started the devastation. It could be that the ARG will be ignored completely in an effort to create direct connections with the Cloverfield films, which might anger some fans, but would help to form an easier story to follow.
If Cloverfield 4 doesn’t provide a clear narrative for the franchise, and explain some of the previous projects’ mishaps, it runs the risk of alienating audiences even further, something that the franchise doesn’t really need after the mixed reception to The Cloverfield Paradox. Cloverfield 4 would benefit by going back to basics, figuring out what worked so well with the original 2008 film, and perhaps retconning elements of story that didn’t go down so well with fans. Until Cloverfield 4 releases, the confusion will continue, especially after the new information that Matt Reeves has provided about his original take on the franchise.
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